The Benefits of Task Batching and When to Use It for Workplace Productivity
In the workplace, there will (most likely) always be something happening that needs your attention. Once you wrap on one project, another comes along. Many times, workers are juggling a multitude of projects and trying to find the best way to approach their work and assert their talent. In fact, it is estimated that 31.1% of teams accomplish less than 40% of their planned tasks for the week. Only 53.3% of task time is spent productively.
You can’t blame workers for having productivity issues, especially if they are not set up to succeed properly in their work environment. However, if you have experienced less ambition around your work, felt distracted or caught up while trying to complete your work, or are otherwise trying to find a new way to approach your work, we may just have the perfect solution for you.
What is Task Batching?
Task batching is exactly what it sounds like. It is a productivity technique where you group similar tasks together, and then schedule your time around getting each “batch” of tasks complete. For example, a copywriter at a company may take 3 hours on Monday to write out all social media posts for the month. Once that is complete, perhaps she moves on to market research on trending hashtags to add to those posts.
A designer may schedule an hour to look for photographs under creative commons to help build their vision for a website. Once she completes photograph research for one site, perhaps she has to source photos for another upcoming project or bid. At this point, she would launch into her second, similar task. Simply put, it’s batching similar items on your to-do list so that you can get into a rhythm with your tasks, creating a new level of efficiency.
Task Batching Increases Focus
Developing a schedule around any tasks to be completed can actually help to increase your focus. You’ve given yourself this block of time to complete these three, similar, items, and the goal is to get through as many of those items as possible.
Your brain can easily stay focused if you choose to hop from one project to the next during this period. This is because the processes involved in the project are similar and you don’t need time to adjust focus, open new windows in your browser, or try to brainstorm on how to approach anything. Preserve the mental energy that is required to switch from task to task.
Task Batching Can Be Fun
It’s not heavily highlighted in the workplace, but task batching can actually be a lot of fun. This mindset can help make the experience more playful, as though you are approaching the strategy needed for a really involved video game.
Think of it as mental Tetris or a puzzle, where you are trying to ensure all of the similar pieces go in the same area before approaching the bigger picture stuff. Keeping this mindset and allowing yourself to focus and race the clock can be very invigorating.
How to Batch Tasks
While there really isn’t a wrong way to approach task batching, here are a few key ways we like to set ourselves up for success in the space.
Group Your Tasks
When considering a successful schedule to work through, check your to-dos and see if there are any similar tasks that can be grouped together. Do you have a long-form copy to write for several projects or clients? Put all of those in the same area. You can even divide them by industry or topic. This partition comes in handy especially if you work in a marketing environment or manage many clients.
Use a Calendar
When approaching your batching schedule, be sure to consult your existing calendar. Work your time slots around standing meetings, daycare pickups, your weekly coffee dates, and any other items that may be important for your work or self-development.
Have an open 2-hour window every Wednesday at 1 pm? Maybe that’s the time to create branding pitches for new clients or to cull photos for the art department. Working with a handful of clients? Perhaps each day of the week gets its own theme and you stick within a particular client’s bounds and tasks on Monday, another’s on Tuesday and so forth.
Follow Your Flow
Glancing at your calendar from the previous 3 months of work can also help to inform you when you feel most productive. Are you consistently getting taskwork completed in the mornings, or does your productivity increase after a great lunch pick-me-up?
Keep in mind your personal work patterns so you know when you will be most invested in gathering statistics for your open social media campaigns or if you will be able to have a productive brainstorming session without caffeine in your system.
Build in Breaks
When you are considering your work obligations during the day, try to build in breaks in advance. This often includes a 30-60 minute lunch, as well as a handful of 10-20 minute breaks in between to allow you to stand up, move around, and ensure that you are not staring at a screen for too long every day.
Use Your Platform
If you are lucky enough to have a project management platform at your disposal, this workspace will come in extra handy in the task batching process. Keeping as many things within this resource as possible – email inbox, to-do lists, employee communication, meeting notes, etc. – can help to keep you on task during the batching process. This will prevent opening too many tabs and getting distracted by outside resources like ads and non-work notifications when searching for work-related correspondence and ideas.
I’m a big fan of the Hive setup for both work and keeping my at-home world organized.
Establish an Ending Time
Making sure to establish an end time for your task batching is key. This will prevent your work from becoming a feverish marathon. It will also help you stay on track with other items that may be due, continuing education, or workplace meetings.
Want help getting started with task batching? Here’s a curated productivity stack to consider.