Welcome to this blog series on simplicity. Last week we talked about decision fatigue and all of the decisions that you have going on and the overwhelm that comes with it. This week we’re going to focus on mega-batching.
It’s a term that I learned about from Amy Porterfield about six months or a year ago. It’s the idea of taking activities and chunking them into bigger time blocks so that you can be more productive.
When I first heard about this concept, I was sceptical. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to apply the concept. I started to dive deeper and did my own research. I like to find out things for myself, rather than to depend on someone else’s opinion.
The idea of multitasking is a misnomer. We are falsely misled that we can do multiple things at the same time and be more productive. In some ways there are things that we can do at the same time. For example, we can go for a walk and listen to a podcast. Technically this is multitasking.
However most people refer to the concept of rapidly switching back and forth between tasks as multitasking. An example of that is working on your computer, talking on your phone at the same time. It’s the false understanding that you can do both effectively. If you did each activity on it’s own, you’d do a far better job and get it done in less time. The idea of multitasking in the business world has been busted. We know it doesn’t actually exist. You can’t be as productive when you are shifting from activity to activity like that.
Let’s throw the idea of multitasking out the window and get rid of it. What works better is the idea of focused blocks of time. A lot of productivity experts will advocate for this idea. It’s not a new concept that’s just popped up in popular media. Rapidly shifting tasks does not make you more productive. You want to be more directed with your time.
When you switch between tasks, it takes you between 10-15 minutes to be able to refocus your attention. Let’s say you frequently switch between checking emails and then change to a creative task like writing blogs. Your brain can’t make the switch that quickly. It won’t be optimized for problem solving and creativity at the same time. While you may get both tasks done, they aren’t done to the best of your abilities.
What you want to do is to give you brain the ability to do one type of activity for a longer chunk of time. If you switch back and forth every few minutes, it’s going to take the entire time to catch up where you left off. What works better, is to batch your activities into focused blocks of time. You’ll answer emails for a block of time. Then take a break. Then do all your sales calls for a block of time. Get the hang of it?
Now, you might say, “Shawna, I need to be available on email all the time.” I’m a firm believer that we teach people how to treat us. Yes, there are some jobs where you do need to be available at the drop of a hat. Most jobs are not this critical. We create false emergencies in our minds that we need to respond to right away.
Give your clients or team a heads up that you’re switching the way you do things. Let them know that you’ll respond to their email at certain times. For example- do your emails at 11am and 4pm. Let them know that you will get back to them when you check your email. Train people to know that you have a system for dealing with email. Create a new expectation for your team. You’ll all be more productive because you aren’t constantly distracted by email. Batch your email. Batch your phone calls. Batch your filing or your sales calls or any task that you do.
You can do this same batching concept at home. You can batch your cooking. Perhaps Sunday afternoon you cook all your meals for the week so you have less work each night. You might be able to save time washing dishes because you’re chopping all the veggies at one time. You can do all the onions for the week in one go. Then all the meat. You can pay your bills in batches. Or laundry. Have the family help out in folding everything all at once so it’s done for the week.
This week, spend some time reflecting on your daily tasks. What are the activities that you can batch in your personal and in your professional life? Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
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