Do you feel overwhelmed by your never-ending to-do list? Do you have days when it feels like there's no way to get everything done? We've all been there. But one simple change can help boost your productivity and create more capacity to take on higher-level work: task batching.
This powerful technique can help you organize projects, prioritize tasks, and maximize efficiency while helping reduce stress levels on busy days.
What is task batching?
Task batching is a time management method that involves grouping similar tasks together and completing them in one sitting. This allows you to focus more deeply on a single task, saving time and energy by eliminating the need to switch back and forth between systems and tasks.
Maybe you're wondering how much time task batching can really save. Well, a study published in the Harvard Business Review found that, on average, it takes a little over two seconds to switch from one application to another. That might not sound like much, but the average knowledge worker toggles between different applications and websites 1,200 times a day. Over a year that adds up to five work weeks, or 9% of your annual time at work.
So how would you like an extra five weeks of productive time every year?
How does task batching help?
Task batching can have a tremendous positive impact on productivity. By grouping tasks and tackling them in one sitting, you can devote more time to each task. This allows you to finish projects faster and more efficiently while giving you time to think of innovative solutions and focus on more complicated projects.
Additionally, task batching can help reduce stress levels by removing energy of switching between tasks and scramble to finish everything on time. By batching similar tasks together, you can have a clearer plan of attack that allows you to focus on one task at a time and complete it before moving on to the next.
How to make task-batching work?
Here are a few methods I've put into place to make task-batching work for me. Consider how you can adapt them to your work.
Group related tasks together
Start by gathering related tasks together. This could mean anything from responding to emails to meeting with clients to sending invoices to different elements of client engagements. Once you have a list of tasks, prioritize them according to their importance.
Utilize the "snooze" feature in your email
Email can become a black hole. And as much as we try to stay on top of it, you can lose a lot of time just filtering through your inbox and deciding what needs a response.
But did you know both Gmail and Outlook have a snooze feature? In Gmail, the icon looks like a clock face on the far right. In Outlook, right-click any message you want to postpone and choose when you want the message to reappear in your inbox.
For example, say you subscribe to multiple e-newsletters that you rarely have time to read. You might decide to set aside all of that reading for Friday afternoon. So whenever one of those newsletters pops into your inbox, snooze it until Friday.
You don't have to worry about client service falling by the wayside just because you're batching tasks. If responding to client calls and emails is a big part of your day, you might reserve your mornings for deep work and save client emails for the afternoon.
Leverage a project management tool
At Boomer Consulting, we use Asana for project management. I’ve been using Asana as a task list for quite a while now but it's been a personal goal of mine to get all of my monthly, quarterly, and annual projects into Asana rather than using it strictly as a daily task list. This offers several benefits:
I have more peace of mind knowing projects and deadlines will not fall through the cracks because I can see a clear picture of what needs to be done and prioritize
It's easy to collaborate with other members of our team who are involved in those projects
If I need to be out of the office for an extended period of time, someone else could step in and have a holistic view of all my responsibilities and deadlines
One note on using a project management tool: resist the urge to put ALL tasks in your project management system. If I can handle something from start to finish in a few minutes, I keep it in my email—snoozing it until a later day or time if necessary—rather than setting up a project for it in Asana. Otherwise, I might spend more time setting up the task than it would take to simply get it done.
Task batching can be an incredibly effective method for boosting productivity and helping you make the most of your time. The key is to organize tasks into batches, focus on one thing at a time, and utilize the tools you have at your disposal. With a bit of practice, you'll find that task batching can help you stay organized, save time and energy, and take control of your day-to-day work.
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As Financial Operations for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Jenna is passionate about the administrative side of business –both internally and externally.Her primary focus is on the company’s payroll, human resources, and accounting.
Before joining Boomer Consulting, Inc.as a Solutions Advisor in 2018, Jenna owned a home health agency for three and a half years.