Batch working saved my ass. There – I said it! As a solo entrepreneur, the list of to-dos can become quickly overwhelming. Planning ahead? You’d love to, but currently life feels like a game of Whack-a-Mole! Can you relate? Lemme show you how I batch work!
I spent years running various businesses with very different required tasks. I felt how you’re feeling right now. Drowning with no shore in sight! So, let me throw you a figurative life preserver!
Batch Work 101
Before we can really master batch working, we need to understand why it’s effective and what it is!
What is Batch Working?
Batch working is the idea that we operate more efficiently when we tackle one type of task for a longer duration of time. Rather than hopping from emails to editing photos to planning social media posts, we should tackle one at a time for hours to plan ahead. Multitasking isn’t really doing multiple tasks at once, but rather switching between tasks quickly. Each time we switch, we waste time. Less switching = more time saved.
In this post, you’ll learn how to group like tasks so you can operate from a place of flow rather than struggle. You’ll learn how to feel like you’re one step ahead rather than always trying to catch up! Ultimately, you’ll learn exactly how to improve your time management to work less and live more!
Why is Batch Working Effective?
This explanation by the American Psychological Association summarizes multiple studies that prove people who stick to a repetitive task consistently outperform others who have to switch back and forth between simple tasks. The more complicated the tasks are, the longer it takes to switch back and forth. Some claim that efficiency drops between 25-40% each time we have to switch tasks. If that’s not enough to convince you that multitasking is the enemy, I don’t know what will!
By keeping similar tasks grouped together in our schedule, our brain can work on completing the tasks versus refocusing on how to tackle new ones. We enter a state of flow. For example, if I’m writing for hours, my brain is ready to write. If I all of a sudden have to go edit some pictures, I have to mentally switch gears, which creates wasted time.
The idea of batch working to increase productivity is not a new concept. During the Industrial Revolution, we saw a higher use of specialization of labor. This showed us that if we divide the creation of something like a steam engine into a step-by-step process, with a different person in charge of each step, more units can be produced.
The same works with you. If you’re able to get “on a roll” with one task, your efficiency and overall productivity will improve substantially. Batch working is allowing yourself to step into a flow state until everything in that type of task is complete. So, how do we actually achieve this?
How to Batch Work
Follow these three simple steps and you’ll be working one month ahead (rather than behind) in your business in no time!
Compile and Batch Tasks
Make a list of all recurring tasks you complete in a given day, week, or month for your business. For example, you may reply to emails multiple times a day, create content, or do sessions with clients all in one day right now. Write down all tasks you’re doing to keep your business going.
Here’s an example for an average photographer:
- Do photo sessions.
- Edit photos.
- Deliver galleries.
- Plan social media posts.
- Work on SEO / marketing.
- Schedule future sessions.
- Blog recent sessions.
- Reply to emails / messages.
- Engage on social media.
- Share work on Pinterest.
- Ask for client reviews / testimonials.
Once you have your COMPLETE list of tasks, you’ll group them by similarity. For example, the above list would look something like this:
- Strategy: plan / write social, marketing, Pinterest, and blog content for the coming month. Automate the posts.
- Admin: reply to emails, ask for reviews, engage on social media, schedule future sessions, and deliver galleries one designated time each day.
- Edit: edit all sessions available and export them for upload later.
- Photos: schedule as many photo sessions as possible in the same time frame (day or two) to stay in flow.
Your exact batching might look different, but you want to chunk together tasks that won’t require your brain to change gears. Stay focused on one type of task as long as you can before switching.
Assess Potential Time Blocking
Generally, batching your schedule by month for big tasks, then by week for medium tasks, and finally, by day for small tasks works best. For example, the strategy batch from above may be done monthly. The photos and edits might be done weekly. And the admin should be done daily, but in one time block.
Following this type of system is huge for your client experience and therefore your reputation. It’ll allow you to exceed deadlines without the day-to-day feelings of constant hustle.
Create Your Batch Work Schedule
Now that you know how often certain types of tasks need to be done, you can create your batch work schedule. Using the same example, it may look something like this:
FIRST WEEK OF MONTH: Plan all social media / online content marketing strategy for that given month.
EVERY DAY: At the beginning (or end) of every day for a preset amount of time, you will focus on admin work (uploading galleries, responding to messages, etc.)
EVERY MONDAY: Work on your business to plan ahead with new ideas, complete infrequent tasks such as taxes, etc.
EVERY TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY (except first week of month): Complete scheduled photo sessions.
EVERY THURSDAY, FRIDAY (except the first week of month): Finish any necessary edits.
How to Improve Time Management Tips
When Are You Most Productive?
In general, work when you know you’re most productive. For me, it’s morning. My brain slows down considerably in the afternoon. But, for you, it may be that you work best from 2-8pm. Do you, sister!
None of this works if you don’t follow it. You can save house pins on Pinterest all day, but a house won’t magically appear. You have to put in the work. So, make your plan and stick to it.
Here are some things that might cause you to drop the ball:
- A client says they can’t meet with you during one of your set times… schedule them out further or explain to them how your system allows for quicker delivery, which benefits them!
- I promise, if they really want to work with you, they’ll figure it out.
- Phone notifications. *Ding* goes your phone and you can’t help but look. Turn off the notifications and check your social, texts, and emails ONLY during your set time. If need be, set limits on your phone to lock you out to stop wasting time scrolling.
- One step down the rabbit hole of social media and before you know it, you’ve lost hours.
- Overly ambitious goals. When time blocking, be realistic. You can’t bake a seven tier cake, walk the dog, write a manifesto, and learn to juggle all in one day. Be honest with yourself about what’s achievable and then scale that back.
- Feeling like you’re ahead of your to-do list will always be more motivating than being behind.
- Overworking. Take predetermined breaks to get up and move around a couple times a day. You’re not a robot, so stop acting like it!
Impact of Batch Working for Me
Shifting to batch working is why I can plan social media, email list, and even course content a full month in advance. It helps me work from a place of flow rather than hustle. And most importantly, it allows me to enjoy my life with my business as a part of it – not the whole damn enchilada.
Despite what everyone says, you do NOT have to work 24/7 to be successful in business (she says passionately). If you feel like you could use more personal help with this, head over to my coaching page. I have a group program for those new in business and 1:1 coaching for those who need more individualized attention.
Say it with me… “Business can be simple. Business can be fun. I don’t have to do it alone.”
(And if you LOVED this advice, do me a huge favor and share it over on Pinterest or Facebook!)