We’ve all been there – an email comes in and you think to yourself, “I’ll just answer this real quick.” The next thing you know, you’re reviewing PDFs of invoices from last month because you needed to reference something in that email reply.
One thing leads to another and suddenly it’s 4:30 in the afternoon and you haven’t gotten to any of your work that day. What’s even more unfair is you’ve been working on your business all day long but don’t have any work product to show for all your effort.
That’s where the concept of batching tasks comes in handy. Here’s how to do it.
Group Similar Tasks and Tackle All at Once
Batching tasks is the process of saving up similar tasks and completing them all at the same time.
It works for the same reason the assembly line revolutionized modern manufacturing. On an assembly line, each person handles one aspect of a larger project and does that same procedure over and over again.
When you focus on doing the same task repeatedly, you become more efficient at it. You don’t have to waste time trying to switch your mind and body from one task to another.
The same process applies when you batch your tasks and focus on streamlining your to-do list.
Categorize Your Tasks
Sort out what you need to do into similar tasks and plan ahead so you’ll be set when you begin.
Mark incoming emails requiring your attention so that you can sit down and reply to emails all at once. Make a list of people you met at the recent networking event and send out follow-up emails and/or LinkedIn networking invites all at once.
You might have tasks that are not precisely the same but require you use the same equipment or software. Go ahead and do those together, too.
Prepare Materials Before Starting
When you begin each task group, make sure you have all your materials ready to avoid wasting time.
If you need to look up information for your email replies, do the research before you start writing your emails. Be sure to gather up all the business cards from the networking event before you start contacting your new connections.
Add to Your To-Do List
During your day, you’ll inevitably remember something and might be tempted to address it quickly while you’re in the middle of something else.
When that happens, add it to your to-do list rather than immediately jumping into it. Use whatever method works best for you, be it pen and paper or an electronic to-do list.
Try a To-Do List App
If you prefer to have your to-do list be electronic, there are lots of apps to help you out.
Google Keep is a great option for sharing to-do lists or accessing them across multiple devices. You can archive old lists, too.
Call in the Professionals
Batching tasks and to-do list apps are great, but sometimes you want a little extra support to get your time management back on track.
The Business Bash for freelancers provides step-by-step coaching to help you work more efficiently and streamline your workday. Best of all? It’s available online anytime for Success by Rx members.
Author: Melissa Kamenjarin
Melissa is a Success by Rx copywriter and Spanish/English translator, writer, editor and proofreader specializing in educational materials, health insurance, non-profits, and published fiction and non-fiction books, blogs and websites. Melissa is the Secretary and blog writer for ATISDA (Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area). An American Translators Association (ATA) member, she is also the Copy Editor for the ATA Medical Division’s publication, Caduceus.