I am a full-time mother. A full-time business partner. A full-time wife. A full-time entrepreneur. If I tried being all of these things at once, I think my head would explode. My productivity secret keeps me sane, and I want to share it with you.
I am a firm believer in batching: focusing on one task for an uninterrupted period of time so that for the weeks or months following, you don’t have to think about it again. It serves the dual purpose of helping us to be less distracted (because we aren’t trying to multitask) while increasing our productivity, mental acuity, and creativity.
Sometimes, I batch my meal preparation by spending a Saturday cooking 30 meals. I pour myself a big glass of wine, turn on some music, and get to work. It can be exhausting (I have no idea how professional chefs do this every day!), but once I allow myself to get into the rhythm of doing just one task at a time, it can actually be quite relaxing. Once I’m done, I pop the meals in the freezer, and for the next month, I have fresh, healthy dinners ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Sometimes, I batch tasks that may be missed if I try to complete them during a hectic week. For instance, last January I sat down with my three kids and we each filled envelopes with our tithe for all 52 Sundays of the year. That way, I don’t have to remember to write a check or have them scramble to find their loose change—we just grab the already-assembled envelope and head out the door.
Life runs in seasons, and no matter what kind of super woman you are, you cannot be all things at once. Give yourself the ability to stop thinking about all the different hats you wear by batching. Be a chef—and nothing but a chef—for a day (no chef hat required). Be your family accountant one afternoon and the ultimate social networker the next.
If you want to start freeing up your life with batching, here are some ways I batch that may inspire you to incorporate batching in your own schedule.
“Laundry day” – I have one day a week that all the dirty clothes get washed. Everyone in my family knows this is the day to get their baskets to the laundry room. They also know to be prepared to fold and put away their own clothes too.
House services – I try to plan more than one house service on one day. If I’m going to be waiting around in the four-hour window given for my appointment (ugh!), I might as well schedule multiple services at the same time so my house is being sprayed for pests while the furnace is being fixed and the plumber does his thing.
Returns – I do all of my returns on one day. I fill a laundry basket throughout the month with the items that need to be returned or exchanged. I make the rounds to the post office or drive to the shopping plaza and do not allow myself to cross into the buying side of the store. My goal is to end the day making money back from all of my returns.
Two day bookkeeping- I pick two days a month- one around the 5th and the other around the 20th. I close the door and don’t let anyone or anything interrupt . This is a task I don’t particularly like, so I have to be extra intentional. In order to be super efficient, I have called my credit card companies and requested specific due dates in order to stay on my schedule. I use this time to do the time consuming tasks like balancing the checkbook, itemizing the credit card statement, along with the monthly bills.Run a social media account? Sign up for Hootsuite or Tweetdeck and spend a couple of hours scheduling a month’s worth of tweets and Facebook posts. You’ll still want to post in the moment, but at least this way you can avoid days of radio silence.Theme days – I give days of the week a particular theme and rename them with tasks. Monday is “research day” where I seek out and study my competition as well as seek ways to keep current in my industry knowledge. Tuesday is “sales calls day”; Wednesday is in-person “appointments day”; Thursday is “marketing day”; Friday is “projects day.” On those days, aside from time in the morning spent sending emails or other urgent communications, I try to devote a dedicated batch of time to the task of the day.
Shower every six months- Ha! I bet you thought I was crazy. What I mean is this: focus on the birthdays/baby showers/weddings one day every six months. Spend an hour picking out cards for each person, writing their names on the envelopes, and set them aside so that when their birthday rolls around, all you have to do is write the note and seal it.
Be a gulper! I have never been a sipper and always forget my water bottle so I decided to batch my water drinking. I drink a full bottle of water each morning before I allow myself my first cup of coffee. I do the same thing at lunch and before dinner. This way I drink a minimum of three liters of water each day.
Batch Bit#*h@ng- I work very hard to limit my complaining so I set aside time to vent, cry, whine, complain, express frustration. I let it out. But then when the time is up, I move on and let it go. It does me no good to keep hanging on.
Pay attention to what and when works best for you. Are you a morning person? An evening project starter? Remember — you can think unconventionally and create a schedule that works best for you.
Have you ever tried batching? What worked for you? Email me or post a comment with your favorite tasks to batch!