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The Science and Art of Batching to Increase Your Productivity

Posted By Nicole Avery 27th of July 2016 Be Productive 0 Comments

The science and art of batching to increase your productivity (1)

By ProBlogger Expert Nicole Avery.

Batching is not a new idea, Darren wrote about how batch processing made him 10 times more productive back in 2008, but it is still a very powerful technique to improve your productivity.

Batching refers to the process of using blocks of time for specific repetitive tasks where there is sole focus and distractions are minimised. Those who have tried batching are very keen like Darren to expose its benefits, but if you are not convinced by their personal experiences, then take a look at the science behind why batching will increase your productivity.

The science of batching

To look at the science as to why batching increases your productivity, a good place to start is with the potential for the brain to change – that is, neuroplasticity:

“Neuroplasticity refers to the potential that the brain has to reorganize by creating new neural pathways to adapt, as it needs. Think of the neurological changes being made in the brain as the brain’s way of tuning itself to meet your needs.” {source}

The brain loves repetition. Repeating a task over and over allows the brain to create neural pathways; to adjust and adapt to the stimuli and in the process it becomes more efficient at the task.

Think of a blogging task that you need to do on a regular basis, like invoicing. The first time you do it, you need to work out a process on how to best handle invoicing. You then need to become familiar with the software or format you have chosen, you need to apply the correct taxation rates, you need to ensure the invoice has its own unique identifier and you need to be able to track the invoice progress. There are many, many parts to this one task.

If you are only ever doing one invoice at a time, it is going to take considerable time for you to remember correctly all the parts in the right order and for you to become faster at invoicing. If on the other hand you begin batching your invoices, you can do many invoices in one session and with the repetition of the task, you begin to embed the process into your brain and increase the speed with which you create the invoices.

Not only do you save time through being more efficient with the process but you also save time as you have all the software, emails etc open at the one time and do not lose time from switching constantly between programs and having to redirect your focus of attention.

The art of batching

Now hopefully you are convinced that batching can increase your productivity as a blogger, how can you implement it into your workflow? Take these simple steps, to set yourself up an effective batching process:

1. Decide what to batch

Look at the tasks you do in your blogging on a regular basis and decide which ones can be easily batched. This list should give you a start, but add to it any tasks unique to your workload:

  • Email
  • Blog writing
  • Content planning
  • Sourcing images
  • Image processing
  • Social media
  • Invoicing
  • Blog maintenance
  • Comment replies
  • Blog reading and commenting
  • Research
  • Data analysis

2. Decide frequency for batched task

The frequency of the batched tasks will vary depending on the nature of the task; email for example is best batched daily, social media on a weekly basis and blog maintenance on a monthly basis.

3. Decide length of time

Parkison’s law states:

“work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” {source}

so it is essential that you decide how long to allocate to batching tasks. This is particularly important for tasks like email, social media and blog reading, which could almost go on indefinitely! Set realistic time limits and stick to them.

4. Decide where to place batching in your calendar

There is an art to placing batched tasks into your calendar, not only to remind you to do them and so the time is blocked out so you can work on them, but so you can take advantage of your own productive times.

You need to add tasks that are most cognitively demanding like blog writing and data analysis to the times of day you work best. For example, I work best in the morning so I schedule work for my key projects and blog writing before lunch and then schedule tasks like email and social media and email in the afternoon when I find it harder to concentrate. If I were to leave my blog writing until the afternoon, it would take me considerably longer to get the blog post written.

5. Decide to work on nothing else

Once you start working on a batching block of time, decide to work on nothing else but this task. As discussed in my last post, task switching comes with a hefty price tag, with a loss in productivity up to as high as 40%. Single tasking when you are batching will ensure you receive the full benefits it can bring.

What tasks do you batch for your blog?

About Nicole Avery
Nicole Avery is a Melbourne mum to five beautiful kids aged seven to 17. She is the master organiser behind the popular parenting blog Planning With Kids and and the creator of the Planned & Present e-course, a step-by-step guide for mums on how to organise the chaos of family life while still leaving space to enjoy it.

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