“Different types of task require a particular way of thinking, a particular action different from each other.” — Nicola MacPhail, Task-Batching
Want to double or triple your productivity in a day? I never thought it was possible to use one productivity technique in a day and have it multiply my time and ability. Yet, when I started using this new technique for work it created some surprising results.
I started using task-batching.
This is a simple technique where you batch together the same tasks and complete them one after another until they are done. This may seem like a natural thing to do. However, in our busy lives, we tend to get distracted so much that we cannot actually do this one thing.
Many times, we set out to knock out a bunch of the same task and then we get an important email or phone call. We switch to taking care of whatever important business to attend to and then come back to the previous group of tasks.
The problem is how easy it is to lose momentum and start jumping around to all the different things we have to do without working through them in any kind of order.
This is why task-batching is so useful.
It is more than just picking a bunch of same tasks and doing them all at once though. It must be thought out ahead of time. And I want to share with you how exactly to do it.
When we start using this productivity technique, we need to think through exactly how we will do this before we start doing it. While this is hard for someone like me who wants to jump right in and figure things out, it is important to have a plan.
The following steps are what I did to start using task-batching effectively and increases my productivity on the first day I started doing it.
Step 1: Schedule Your Time
When I started using this new method, I had to decide whether I would task-batch an entire day or a few hours each day. Now, this all depends on what kind of work you do though.
For me, as a claims adjuster for an insurance company, I have a variety of different tasks that I have to do every day. And some tasks that I only do as they come up. However, my workload is sufficient enough that I can batch tasks into entire days.
And so, my days are broken down into two days for negotiations on claims, and two days for interim handling of claims, and one day for ongoing investigations.
The key: You need to schedule your task-batching based on your work.
If you do not have enough of the same tasks to commit an entire day to them, then you should break it down into hours in a day. And maybe these tasks are done every day, or only on certain days.
As a writer, my mornings are always reserved for writing new posts. My lunchtimes are always reserved for creating new paid content. And if I do additional work in the evenings, I spend that time responding to comments, responses, and emails.
So, start with figuring out how you will schedule your time for task-batching.
Step 2: Re-arrange Your Work
In order to start task-batching with maximum efficiency right away, you need to re-arrange your work into your new scheduled times. This means, taking the extra time to move things around in your workload, task lists, or calendar, and preparing to start fresh.
I suggest you do this on a Friday, so you can start hot on Monday. It is important to remember when you are re-arranging your work though is to be aware of how much you can do in your scheduled time.
The key: You need to arrange your work in a way that will not overload your time.
Once you have your work re-arrange into your designated schedule you are almost done. This is the point where you have your designated timeframes, you have your work planned out where it belongs.
And when you step into working your way through your work first thing on Monday, you will begin to see some major gains right away. And while this is 75% of the way there, you have one more step that will maximize this new technique.
Step 3: Set Expectations
Now that you have your work schedule and arranged into the appropriate places you can start into working your way through your schedule. While you do this, you need to start setting expectations with any outside influences that you might interact with on a regular basis.
I suggest with your email or phone communication, letting people know when you will get back to them relating to their contact is important. I do this regarding negotiations with my day job. I have set the expectation that they will hear back from me on Wednesdays and Thursdays for example.
The key: You need to set expectations for fewer interruptions and better connections.
When we set the appropriate expectations with this new workflow, it will give the outside world a chance to feel connected with us even though we are creating new boundaries. It also reduces the number of interruptions as we work on other things.
And this is the kicker to the entire process. Expectations in regards to when you contact people or follow up will remove extra work and distraction when you are in your flow state of task-batching. And it will help you get work done more quickly and potentially help you do more work too.
Why You Need to Follow These Steps
I had tried this once before. And it failed miserably. This was over a year ago when I first tried, and I abandoned my efforts in the first week. However, in the last month, I followed these steps and have seen wild success.
Let’s take a look at the reasons for failure and success.
As I look back, the reason it failed was due to the fact that I tried to start doing it without scheduling how I would do things appropriately and didn’t realize how much work I had to do.
When I tried this the first time, I tried spending the first half on a day for certain tasks and then the second half on other tasks. The problem? I would over schedule myself and not get everything done for either half of the day.
And then, I didn’t set expectations with people very well, so I still got all the excessive emails and phone calls. In the end, I abandoned the entire attempt because I didn’t prepare myself very well.
This technique was suggested to me just over a month ago. And while I had already tried and failed at it, I thought I would try it again. But this time with a little better planning. The three steps above that I use came out of the fact that I knew what my goal was: Get work done more quickly.
And so, I looked at where I was and where I wanted to be and began filling in the steps. I knew that I wanted to get like tasks done at the same time because it is easier to focus on the work. And it will knock out a lot of work fast.
I also knew that I wanted to reduce my interruptions and increase my customer service. Most of all, I realized I had enough work to fill an entire two days with certain tasks. And so, I scheduled which days for what and re-arranged my work so I could have a complete trial week.
And while I was working through the trial week, I realized if I told people exactly when I would follow up, they could be ready for me. And this has helped me get more claims closed and reduced the amount of follow up from others.
This has changed everything with my workload in a very short amount of time.
Takeaways: Follow the Steps
We know that when we work the same tasks batched together our minds can get into a flow state and we can become very efficient. We also know that we have a lot of ways we can be distracted.
So, when we start batching our tasks, we can eliminate distraction and interruption, while at the move through work more quickly. As we do this, we set appropriate expectations and start to see fewer interruptions.
We have three steps to follow:
- Schedule Your Time
- Re-Arrange Your Work
- Set Expectations
And when we follow these three steps we can increase our productivity so fast that it will change the way we feel about work and create more success at our output. Are you ready to start?
Do you task-batch at all? How have you used this to your benefit? Share in the responses below.
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