If you batch tasks–rather than schedule them–you can get more done, save time, and lower your stress level.
I recently figured that out when I started batching the steps that go into writing and publishing articles for this website, and I'm so glad I did.
Working Too Hard On Weekly Tasks
If you're like me you probably schedule weekly time to accomplish projects or tasks that recur once a week. That approach causes duplication of effort and eats into your free time.
For example, I publish an article here every Friday. Until recently that meant that around the middle of every single week I did the following tasks:
- decided on an article topic
- researched the topic
- opened Word and outlined the article
- signed into Canva.com and opened my title graphic template
- created and downloaded a title graphic
Then every Friday, I did the following:
- opened Word and revised the article
- signed into this website and created a new post
- pasted the article from Word into the website
- opened the website photo library and uploaded the title graphic
- inserted the title graphic into the article
- formatted the article
- revised, previewed, and published the article
Each week this work took me 4-5 hours, meaning I spent 16 to 20 hours a month.
Batch Your Tasks To Save Steps (And Time)
Batching rather than scheduling means grouping your tasks by type.
Last month I started batching the work. Rather than focus on a week at a time, the last week of the month I accomplished similar tasks relating to writing all 4 of the following month's articles.
On the last Monday of the month I now do these things:
- brainstorm and choose 4 topics for the next month (.5 hours)
- research articles (.5 hours)
- Open Word and outline the articles (1 hour)
Last Tuesday of the month:
- sign into canva.com and use title graphics template to create 4 title graphics and download all of them (.5)
- sign into the website, upload all 4 title graphics at once, create 4 posts (included below)
- open Word and copy article outlines into each post, inserting appropriate title graphic in each (.5)
Then on each Friday of the following month I do the following:
- sign into this website and write that week's article based on the outline (1)
- format, revise, preview, and publish the article (1)
While I could write all the articles in advance, I find I get burned out trying to do that and don't enjoy the process as much, so I prefer to write one per week. That also gives me flexibility to choose among the 4 topics based on what might be timely or might be taking my interest at moment.
That’s 11 hours per month (3 hours advance work and 2 hours per week per article). Which means batching saved me between 5 and 9 hours per month.
There are other advantages to batching, too.
Jumping from one type of task to another means changing your way of thinking.
For most of us, that means getting tired more quickly.
With my old way of doing things, publishing an article a week meant I was often switching between creative work like generating ideas and writing first drafts, performing administrative functions like opening programs and uploading and downloading files, using the visual part of my mind to create and revise graphics and format text, and employing my analytic skills for choosing topics, researching, and revising.
By immersing myself in one type of task at a time I not only avoid repeating administrative tasks (like uploading graphics), I feel much less fatigued. That leaves me more energy to write, accomplish other goals, and enjoy life more.
I also feel less stressed.
Switching from one type of task to another makes me feel like I am figuratively running all over the place. Doing the same thing for a longer time but only once feels less intense.
Also, now there are a lot fewer moments when I'm tapping my fingers on the desk waiting for a website to open, file to download, or the Save function to work. (Isn't that something how quickly we expect everything to happen these days?)
That's all for this Friday. Until next week, when I'll talk about the value of reserving unscheduled time in your day —
P.S. For more on getting more done with less stress, check out Extreme Productivity (Part 4 – Less Stress).