I’m sure you’ve had the feeling of being “in the flow” when working. You know when you’re working at your optimum level. How would you like to operate at that level for the majority of your workday?
I have the solution – it’s called batching! Batching means dividing up your day by allocating time to work on similar tasks for a specific period. Multitasking was the buzzword for many years, however all this achieves is to show us how we can do more at once while being unfocused and ineffective. Batching allows us to focus on one thing at a time and get us into the flow easily.
So how can we implement batching into our daily lives to focus better and achieve more?
Allocate chunks of time to similar tasks
Think about your day in chunks of time. We are often taught to think about our days in terms of each hour, just like our paper and electronic calendars prompt us to do. But rather than restrict our days to short hourly bursts, let’s think about our entire day and what tasks can be completed within that day in the most efficient manner.
Maybe your average day goes something like this: You have a client appointment in the morning and forget to plan how the rest of your day will look. After the meeting your brain is in overload. You head back to the office, return some phone calls, shuffle some paper around and then get caught up dealing with your overflowing inbox. Suddenly it’s lunchtime so you grab a quick bite to eat. It’s now 2pm and you’re back at your desk ready to start your “real work” for the day – client work. But then you realise you have to send off a proposal by close of business so you get cracking on that instead, in between various phone calls that interrupt your train of thought.
Does this sound familiar at all? It certainly does to me! I remember this very ineffective day all too well. I was keeping myself busy but not really getting much done.
Then I discovered the joys of batching. Rather than schedule a single client appointment, I started clustering meetings one after the other, fitting as many into the day as possible. Firstly this potentially saves on travel time, if I plan it right. Also, it allows me to be in “client mode”, switched onto the needs of my clients and operating at my optimum level for maximum client support. I apply this principle to phone appointments too, batching them back to back to continue being in that “switched on” mode.
Batching is also useful for dealing with email, returning phone calls, social media, marketing, following up with clients and admin. Let me explain. Dealing with email is a never-ending task as our inbox constantly grows and we never quite “get to the bottom”. It’s tempting to check email while we have a spare couple of minutes at various times during the day. However, unfortunately some replies to emails take longer than a couple of minutes and it’s difficult to find the time to write that lengthy reply or complete tasks associated with your emails.
This is where it’s useful to allocate a set period of time to process your inbox, rather than checking it sporadically throughout the day. First thing in the morning, lunchtime and at the end of the day may work for you.
During that time, you’ll be able to deal with emails that require only a couple of minutes of your time and perhaps flag others that require further research or more lengthy responses for later. Of course, you need to make sure that you attend to these in your next allocated “email” time.
If you’re truly focused during your “batched” times and switch your phone off, you’ll probably have calls to return. Allocate a set period of time to return them one after the other. You’ll stay in “phone call mode” and take care of it all in one hit! You can then turn your phone off again for your next batching focus.
If you spend time on social media as part of your overall marketing strategy, it can be easy to get carried away and lose large pockets of time. Schedule time during your day where you jump onto your social networks, engage, make posts, tweets and then when your scheduled time is up, jump off. Batch completed!
In terms of following up with your prospects, hopefully you have a follow up system in place. A component of this will be phone calls or emails. Either task relates to the same thought process regarding a prospect and your wish to work with them. All of these tasks should be batched together as you will be in the groove of discussing why your prospects should work with you and what’s in it for them.
You can also use batching in your personal life! For example, why not batch your cooking into a big weekend cook-up? Instead of making one meal, make a few instead and freeze some of them, so you can enjoy home-cooked meals during the week. You’ll also benefit from only messing up your kitchen once.
What can you batch in both your business and personal life to make the most efficient use of your time?
P.S. Want to learn more about batching?
And do you struggle to get things done in your day? Are you super busy keeping up with all the “busy” work in your business? And what about those projects you’ve been dying to implement but can’t find the time?
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