Batching your tasks and actions can save you hours every single week.
It’s a time management technique that universally works well for everyone.
Here’s a quick guide to the awesomeness that is batching your tasks and actions.
What Is Batching?
Batching is simply grouping together many similar or identical actions.
For example, instead of cooking just one meal to eat right now, you cook seven meals and box six of them to eat later.
When done properly, batching can save you hours of time.
In the cooking example, it might take you say thirty minutes to prepare a meal daily. That’s two-hundred-and-ten (210) minutes every single week — or three-and-a-half (3.5) hours!
With batching, you can potentially cook those seven meals in one go in thirty minutes and save three hours every week.
That’s three hours that you can use to…
- Watch Netflix.
- Do whatever you want!
Why Bother Batching in the First Place?
If the time savings alone aren’t enough to convince you to batch your tasks and actions, then think about the cognitive (mindset) shift you have to make between different activities.
When you say open your email and start replying, you have to shift your focus and attention from what you were doing before, to the email, to the replies, and then back when you’re done.
Now say you check your email eight times a day. That’s eight times that you have to cognitively switch to email mode and back.
This is why batching is important and why it works.
It not only reduces the setup and teardown in terms of time for multiple activities, but it also reduces the cognitive switching load.
Batching as a System
This is what different activities look like without batching:
This is what those same activities look like with batching:
And here’s our cooking example in diagrammatic form:
Unbatched, we would have to run this entire process multiple times.
Batched, we only have run it once to produce the same amount of food.
Furthermore, batching our cooking this way creates efficiency because:
- We only have to apply heat/a cooking method one time.
- We can mass-prepare ingredients and use one set of cutting boards, knives and equipment.
- We only have to wash up one time.1Using this method of batching I am able to prepare a week’s worth of food in about thirty minutes each week. That’s a lot of time saved every week that I can put into other things.
What Other Activities Can I Batch Together?
I’ve talked about cooking. A lot 👨🍳.
But what else can you batch?
In the workplace, you can batch your:
- Phone calls.
- Slack replies.
- Client appointments (back-to-back).
- Meetings. In fact, one of my recommendations for companies is to hold all their meetings on one day and only one day every week.
If you use inboxes and quick capture, you can clear all your inboxes once per week in one sitting.
You can also batch activities at a larger scale.
For example, say you are learning about a new topic. Instead of just reading one book on the topic, you can read two or three in the same timeframe and gain a better understanding of that topic.
What To Do Next
Batch your tasks together.
It’s really that simple.
If you liked this time management technique, check out the other parts of the time management stack here.
- Using this method of batching I am able to prepare a week’s worth of food in about thirty minutes each week. That’s a lot of time saved every week that I can put into other things.
Photo by Evan Dvorkin.