People often ask me what my productivity secrets are. They ask how I’m able to get so much done while still have downtime to decompress. Although I do work a lot (I’ve put in the time), I’ve never subscribed to the idea of working 18 hours a day.
The only time I did that was when I was juggling a side hustle and a day job at the same time. As soon as I quit that job and became self-employed full-time, I consciously decided I would not work 18 hour days because I did not want to cement that in as a bad habit.
That being said, I had to find something that would help me get a lot done in shorter amounts of time. Or, at the very least, I had to find a way to use my time more efficiently. That’s where batching comes in.
What is batching?
Batching is a form of productivity where you arrange tasks in set groups. In other words, you block off time on the calendar for similar tasks.
For example, just yesterday I batched editing podcasts and videos. I did this for two reasons. First, my PR people need the audios so they can start pitching on my behalf so I was on a time crunch. Second, the new podcast episodes start rolling out in a few weeks.
The way I see it, I was killing to birds with one stone. I was getting materials out to my PR people and I was preparing files for my team ahead of time.
Additionally, I spent the last few weeks creating six months worth of content for my blog, website, podcast and YouTube. I have over 20 episodes of the podcast and web show already completed (and now edited).
It’s been a lot of work, but by using the batching productivity method I can get it done. Here is how batching has helped me in this situation.
It keeps you from multi-tasking.
Multi-tasking does not work. It just doesn’t.
Rather than doing something really well, we end up spreading out too much of our focus to too many different things. This leads us to create mediocre work on all fronts.
Believe me, I know. One of the reasons I consider my podcast a fail for the last two years is because there was no consistency in the publication schedule. This is because I was trying to do too many things at once.
This time things are a bit different. I blocked off some time in the last few weeks to only focus on getting this podcast content done. My Mondays are blocked off to actually interview guests. I also blocked off a weekend to do some editing (again, because my PR people needed the files so they could do their job).
I do the same thing with other projects as well. For example, I write all of these articles on the same day. Or, I will write my email marketing for the week on the same day as well. Finally, I block off Fridays for intensive coaching days with clients.
It gives me structure.
How I decide to batch depends on what projects I have going on. For example, right now I’m working on this podcast but that is temporary.
The truth is batching also helps me give some sort of structure to my week. For example, I only do consultation calls mid-week and usually in the afternoons. This is because my mornings are reserved for client work.
I also make sure that Mondays are spent focusing on tasks that move my business forward. This includes creating new products, marketing for the week or team meetings.
Although none of this is set in stone because projects ebb and flow, it does give me some sort of structure. Many business owners struggle with a lack of structure in their work days (and weeks) and that’s why they struggle to get things done. Or, they feel overworked because they feel like they are always working.
I feel less stressed.
Batching also helps me feel less stressed. This is because instead of trying to do multiple things, I am focused on one similar task at a time. For example, the day that I am writing this is a writing day. I’m not taking meetings today and I’m not very active on social. All I need to focus on is writing.
Doing this allows for less distractions. It also means I dictate what I spend my time on instead of having other people or my inbox dictate it for me. The latter is what leads to stress because you’re always in between tasks and agendas. The former allows me to have vision and feel grounded.
Batching also reduces start-up and slow-down time in between tasks. That’s because you’re not forcing your brain to jump from one task to another. And finally, the longer you work on one specific task the more you get into flow.
I get stuff done.
As I mentioned earlier, I have about six-months worth of audio and video content ready to go. This is because I hunkered down and batched the processes to create the content.
For example, I spent an entire weekend just filming and recording my Q&A episodes where I answer audience questions. Then, I blocked off Mondays for a few weeks to pre-record expert interviews.
From there, I spent a weekend batching the editing process so I could send the files to the people who need them. This includes my PR people and my team who will load the files onto Libsyn, YouTube and my blog.
I created about three months worth of content in a single weekend. I also edited everything in one day. The expert interviews took me a bit longer but even still it only took about a month.
The point is it got done. I can now go back to selling, creating and catering to my clients. And truthfully, a few weeks of extra work is nothing once you realize you created six months worth of marketing material that will help you make more money.
You would also think you get tired, but as I just mentioned, the longer you work on something the more you’re in flow. By the time I got to video 10 I was so into it I just kept going. I also cranked it out faster as time went on.
It helps me stick to a schedule.
In the case of my podcast, because I batched six months worth of content, I can stick to my publication schedule for the next six months. Part of the mistake I made in the past was not having content ready to go ahead of time. This made it difficult to publish content when I was traveling or had to deal with a hurricane.
By batching projects, you have the peace of mind that the content will get out no matter what is happening around you. This allows you to stick to a schedule. It also saves you time in the long run. Like I said, now that the content is done, I can go back to making more money and moving on the next project.
Bottom line is batching is my favorite productivity hack. It gives me structure, helps me get stuff done and I feel less manic. It’s by far the most effective productivity tool I’ve ever used.