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2 powerful techniques to master task batching

Task batching is one of the simplest techniques for our favorite to-do list strategy. It is a practice to group similar tasks and to approach them in a zoned manner. This post will explore 2 powerful scheduling techniques to master this skill for that ultimate productivity boost!

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I often find myself in situations where I am busy all day long, yet much of my work remains pending at the end of the day! No, I am not slow at work or any other excuse, but yes, I consider myself a project hopper! It can also be called ‘Multi-tasking.’ I keep jumping from one activity to another & then it distracts me from my planned to-do list. For example, when I start reading emails, I want to respond to them or start with the task it invites with the first email. Nothing is wrong with it, but instead of checking my emails, I jump onto reply – thinking of the right response, cross-checking with the team, validating facts for myself once, etc.


Result? I switch contexts. I get myself involved in other tasks and later set focus again on my original to-do & plan. And guess what? The day gets over with unaccomplished bullet points on my to-do list!


Though I always plan my work, sometimes it becomes hard to focus & stick around to that plan (not considering the URGENT or LAST-MINUTE tasks). That’s where the task batching technique helps me be crazy productive – completing more tasks on my list in less time!

What is task batching?

It is a fact that our brain needs some time to focus on the on-hand work. The more we switch contexts, the more time it takes for our brain to get back in the focus zone. As per a study, it takes almost 25 minutes to recover from a distraction! And there are so many distractions in a single day, so you can imagine the amount of time wasted to figure out: ‘hmm, where was I?’

We can’t avoid distractions altogether, but we can certainly manage them in a better way. Task batching is one simple technique to do the same – approaching similar types of tasks together. You might wonder how this increases productivity. Well, the technique allows us to get the rhythm in work. As our brain gets fully immersed in the task & other similar tasks are over in much lesser time, the context is already set.

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How do you batch tasks?

We can use batching for any tasks that can be relatable in context or mindset or simplicity etc. Whether deep-focused or regular tasks such as emails, chatting with the team, brainstorming ideas, and image creation for social media. We don’t work only on one project at a time, and various activities are involved – planning, coordination, writing content, approvals, etc. And all these need a particular mindset. You need to change how you think about your work and be a little more organized, and task batching will enhance your productivity like never before!

Understanding your work schedule becomes essential to know what tasks you can batch together.


Here is a four-step process for batching tasks:

Step-1. List down all the different types of tasks you intend to do this week. 

Work-related or personal errands, note them all. This is your backlog for the day, week, or month, depending on how you plan your work.

Step-2. Categorize tasks 

Brainstorming, Planning, Focus Work, Discussions, Fitness, Shopping, Home errands, Social engagements, etc. Add one category against each task. These categories will then help you identify your work batches! These categories will help you understand what tasks you can batch that requires the same mindset.

You can be a bit creative if working with pen & paper or if your tool allows, and use different color markers to highlight each category and make the whole exercise more engaging!

Step-3. Group your tasks

Now that you have categorized your tasks, group them by their efforts. You can add more parameters to understand further your work’s true nature, such as taking difficult tasks in the morning or dedicating specific days for specific tasks. The end goal is to minimize distractions. Your work planning and organizing skills can help you big time to batch tasks most efficiently.

P.S. You should always avoid batching tasks that require deep focus or are complex in type as it might lead to burnout


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Step-4. Schedule your to-do 

Task batching techniques allow you to schedule work with any of your preferred approaches – pen/paper, calendar, or app. I would recommend trying either of these two variations of scheduling:

#1. Day theme batching

In this approach, you dedicate your seven days to the specific type of work. The idea is to pick one focus for the day and do all the related tasks. These are my batch days to help you understand the concept: 

Some other ideas that might help you theme your days: Writing day, Management day, Team building day, Saturday shopping, etc.

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Who should opt for this?

Helpful tips:

#2. Time blocking

It requires you to put aside certain hours for your work batches. The technique’s purpose is to minimize distractions by giving an entire chunk of time for a batch. It would be best if you choose your tasks according to:

  1. Shallow work: light tasks that don’t require much focus. For example: checking emails and calls
  2. Deep work: that requires full attention and a specific time to complete. For example, programming, writing an article, etc.
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Who should opt for this?

You should NOT opt for this if:

Helpful tips:

But will task batching work with my job?

This is the most asked question at the end of anything new you explore. I have heard many arguments that “my work schedule is so hectic, with so many surprise meetings and calls that I cannot anticipate my work.” My response has always been that such a schedule and working style is problematic, and sooner or later, you’ll have to change it. Control over your schedule is always helpful, no matter your field.

“Periods of open-ended reactivity can be blocked off like any other type of obligation. Even if you’re blocking most of your day for reactive work, for example, the fact that you’re controlling your schedule will allow you to dedicate some small blocks (perhaps at the schedule periphery) to deeper pursuits.”

Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work

Task Batching Realness

Pros:

Cons:

Though there are initial difficulties in identifying work in advance and categorizing them, that is not a reason to not keep up with these task batching techniques.

Did you give a try to task batching yet? Share your approach and methods in the comments, or get in touch with me to learn task batching and its variations per your work routine.


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