People often ask me how it’s possible I earn multiple six-figures in my business (and have unlocked everyday millionaire status), and still have time for a life beyond my career. Now that I’m running two businesses, I’m working full-time between the two, but never more than 40-hours a week (I like to be done for the day when my daughter gets home from daycare in the afternoon), and very rarely do I do any work on the weekends. One of the not-so-secret techniques I’ve used to be more productive has been batching my work.
You may have heard of time batching before and dismissed it as something that won’t work for you. When you’re so busy that all you can do is react to what’s going on around you, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Maybe you have so many tasks on your plate that it’s scary to think this dream business won’t get off the ground and create the lifestyle you want. This applies whether you’re a globetrotting traveler, working from home with kids underfoot, or yearning to replace your corporate income.
I can speak from the experience of building two businesses that you are capable of learning how to be more productive.
You can travel and work and live how you want, but you need to learn a new way to do things.
Working remotely is entirely different than what you’re used to doing, and you need new foundations and systems to put into place.
What Is Time Batching?
If you’re new to batching your work, it’s easy to learn and straightforward to execute. Time batching takes designated time, whether a few hours or minutes and working on similar tasks without interruptions. Instead of spreading them throughout the day and working on them sporadically, you’re spending focused time on those like-minded tasks.
You also need to get strategic with your time to be more productive. I typically batch together heavy, focused work over two hours. However, admin work like email can be batched over just a few minutes.
What Are the Benefits of Time Batching?
Multitasking doesn’t work. Instead of getting lots of things done all day, you’re scattered and likely getting less done. Studies also show that 98% of people focus best when facing a single type of task, instead of multiple tasks. Instead, you can hit a flow state where you’re highly focused and getting more done than you thought possible when you batch your time and tasks.
Most people I know are stunned to hear that when I batch my work, I can (usually!) get the most important tasks on my plate done and still have time for myself, save weekends for myself and my family, and enjoy my evenings. Despite the fact I end up relishing in my free time, batch working simultaneously increases my efficiency and productivity.
Time batching is also a game-changer for your clarity. When you’re intensely focused on a particular type of task, you amplify your clarity, and the quality of the work you do improves. I’ve been batch working for so long that I can’t imagine returning to my old way of working all hours of the day in the corporate world. I treated every email like an emergency and worked nights and weekends. I never disconnected, even during my free time, and my happiness suffered for it.
Ready to get started? Here’s how.
Plan Your Week
Planning your week is essential to figuring out how to be more productive. I never start a week without carefully planning out every step. The process is detailed and takes some getting used to, but it is ultimately liberating. When you map out your week, you can factor in your work, free time, hobbies, coffee dates, and anything else that might come up. I also fiercely protect my weekly plan, so nothing except a true emergency interrupts it.
Sometimes I even take the afternoon off after finishing my work for the day. You can check out the methodology I use for planning your weekly work here.
Break Down Your Project Into Smaller Steps
Big projects can fuel your stress and lead to procrastination. Instead of trying to make a dent in a big project, start breaking it down into smaller, realistic steps. Once you have the steps laid out, you can batch your work to complete those steps.
Maybe you run a podcast and want to improve your content runway. You would document and break down every step required to create and promote a podcast episode, then batch your time to complete those steps. Make sure it’s a realistic amount of work per batched time. Start with a certain number of episodes and focus your time accordingly.
Batch Your Creative Work
For most people, creative work will take the most focus and time to complete. Start by using a daily two-hour batch of time to work on whatever type of creative work you need to. Here are some ways you can use your batched time:
- Outline blog post briefs for your copywriter (or use this time to write a few yourself)
- Draft a batch of social media posts related to your content that support your blogs, podcasts, YouTube channel, or anything else
- Record several podcast episodes during this focus time
- Schedule social media content
- Work on graphics in Canva
Think About Your Batch Frequency
You should also consider the frequency you need to do specific tasks. For example, you may need to request your financial information, including your bank and credit card statements, to pass them off to your bookkeeper. You would set aside one of your focus times in the first week of the month to focus on this bookkeeping prep.
When you’re figuring out how to be more productive, you can also use templates and checklists for recurring projects. If you’re a podcaster, you may have a “podcast production” checklist, with task lists for each step of your project. Every week, you may have a batch of focused time for, “Complete 3 Podcast Task Checklist for these 3 Episodes.” These days, I use ClickUp to keep myself and my team organized and create duplicate cards for these types of repetitive tasks.
Batch Smaller Tasks
One of the ways how you can be more productive is batch non-creative tasks that don’t require intense focus time, like checking email. In this case, you’ll set aside a shorter time period. Here are some examples of how I do this:
- 20 minutes each morning for checking and responding to emails
- 20 minutes again at the end of the day
- 10 minutes each morning for checking and responding to Slack messages that came in after I signed off at the end of the previous day (I don’t check Slack after hours, only during my working hours)
- 30 minutes each morning and 30 minutes at the end of the day responding to social media messages and proactively engaging on social media. You could also refer to this task as community management.
Batch Work on Specific Days
Sometimes you only need to batch work on specific days of the week. For instance, my weekly schedule requires one hour each day for “client focus time,” where I focus on digging deeper into ongoing projects for a particular client. Of course, my team is also working on these projects all week and keeping things running smoothly. However, I focus my reviews and oversight on a specific day of the week.
I may use that focus time on Client A on a Tuesday. I’ll review social media posts, blog posts, email campaigns, and Pinterest strategy for an hour. However, there is a caveat. To make your batch of time work, you need to have plenty of runway and time on projects so that few things are genuinely ‘urgent.’ Your business should be efficient enough to allow you to wait until your scheduled review time.
Set a Timer for Your Work
A physical timer may help you stay in your zone and focus on your batch work. A simple technique called the Pomodoro Technique enables you to stay on task and stay focused. Set a timer for your two-hour, hour, or few minutes of batched work on a particular task. You may find it helps you zero in on the task at hand and want to make the most of your time as the timer ticks down.
When the timer is up, move on to your next task or take a quick five-minute break to get up and move around. Then you set your timer and start again.
It’s not enough to know how to be more productive, you also need to put it into action. Time batching is a simple, powerful way to get more done, stay productive, and make real progress in your business. It takes some time to plan, discipline, and a desire to take action on the type of business and life you’ve always wanted. What will you start batching first?
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