Batching is a fantastic technique I learned from Melissa Cassera and, let me tell you, it is life-changing.
I know a lot of people online are talking about blocking and batching, so this may not be like WOAH MIND BLOWING NEW ADVICE, but the concept deserves lots of kudos. Probably why so many people are now like, “OMG, check out this new thing I discovered!”
(No idea why, but I heard that in my head as a very exaggerated Valley Girl accent, so please go back and read it as such.)
Melissa is a screenwriter, a business strategist, a marketing whirlwhind, and generally fantastic resource of information (she has tons of guides that really do help you to write better and connect with your audience).
You can see why she needs to be able to GSD (that stands for “Get Shit Done,” bee tee dubs).
Hey, I’m liking the idea of getting more shit done in less time. I want a life, yo!
Case in point: my dog is my new best business tool. Why? He demands a lot of time and attention. (Good thing he’s cute and any post with him in it on Instagram gets traffic. That better start converting so he can earn his keep!)
Because I know he takes a certain amount of my time every day, I know that when I’m working, I have to BE. WORKING.
I gotta get shit done. And I’m thrilled that Melissa showed me the technique of batching years ago.
Think about it.
You don’t make each individual cookie from start to finish, you make a batch.
Instead of mixing up the minuscule amount of flour, sugar, and eggs it would take to make one cookie, bake it, cool it, and consume it, you make a batch of dough, then bake the whole pan of cookies, then cool them all, then consume them.
(What, a batch of cookies does not last long around me!)
When you’re done with one step, you move to the next. It saves time and energy, right? The same thing can be said for working.
So why are you trying to write a blog post from start to finish (draft, editing, optimizing, making graphics) and then starting over again on the next post? That’s like baking one cookie at a time.
Benefits of Batching
I love batching because I can get into a creative flow, which allows me to maximize my time and get more done in the same or less time than if I created one thing from start to finish.
In a given 8-hour work day, we experience about 60 interruptions. I assume that’s in an office environment.
I’d venture to say us entrepreneurial ladies experience that much more, especially when working on a remote team. We don’t have just email, we have Slack, Voxer, the dog, emails, texts…a LOT of distractions.
Add in the time you lose by switching from task to task and you are not getting a lot done. (It takes about 15 minutes to get back into an uninterrupted, productive state.)
So basically, you’re giving yourself an assist. Instead of switching from task to task, you focus and get everything done.
This is especially helpful for creative work when you’re feeling the flow. Social media posts, blog posts, newsletters…that all takes creativity and it can be hard to just turn that energy source on.
When you’re in the flow…be in the flow.
How to Get Shit Done (AKA: Set Up What Batching Looks Like for You)
Batching, along with setting “office hours” on my phone that silences notifications and asks me if I really want to open that app, is a god-send.
When I batch tasks, I get more done in my “working” time than in a typical work day.
Seriously, I can deeply focus and work from about 9-1, then get all my life shit done.
You can set up your batching schedule however you want. I find that I’m most productive and creative in the morning, either after a good workout or good cup of coffee (sometimes both). But I have to shower first.
Step 1 | Set the scene.
Trigger a bio-feedback loop that signals “It’s time to do this shit!” to help you get into a productive state. For me, that’s a shower and using a certain mug for my coffee.
Additionally, I’ll go to a far-away coffee shop if I really need to focus. I tend only to visit there when I work so a) it triggers that feedback that “I’m at Caffe D’Amore. Gotta get to work!” and b) I know I have to get down to it since I drove all the way there.
(Two things you should know about me: I hate to pay for parking and I absolutely loathe traffic. If I go somewhere, I’m squeezing out every drop of benefits I can!)
Get yourself set up with something you use only when you’re batching.
They key is to make it something you enjoy, like a special pen, or a place you visit, like an out-of-the-way coffee shop you adore and don’t often get to visit.
Not only will your body know it’s go time, but you’ll be in a positive mindset.
And, hey, if you haven’t heard about batching…. I’m about to blow your mind when I tell you that mindset is key.
Instead of thinking, “Ugh, how am I going to write five posts in four hours??” you’ll be thinking, “This is great, I get to drink my favorite cappuccino today!”
Step 2 | Have one specific goal in mind.
Notice I said one goal. Batching operates on the idea that you do one thing at a time, so if you want to work towards five goals in two hours….you’re gonna fail. And you aren’t batching.
This technique works great when you have a work + reward system, too.
Write down your goal. Now, give yourself a time limit to hit that goal.
Yeah, it’s basically the Pomodoro Method, but on crack.
The Pomodoro Method says work for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break.
That’s great, and sometimes it’s all I need to light a fire under my ass to get started, but having a stretch goal that pushes you a little is great for productivity.
You’ll be amazed that little distractions disappear (or you don’t allow them to crop up) when you say you want to write five blog posts by the time you leave the coffee shop and takeout from your favorite restaurant on the way home is riding on it.
Step 3 | Give yourself a reward.
Need a reward at the end? Me too. You met your goal, go ahead, treat yo’self!
A Few Things you Can Batch Task
You can batch just about anything in your work day (and beyond) to get amazing productivity results so you can accomplish insane amounts in your day. Here’s a starter list to get you going.
DUH, no surprise here. Like I mentioned in the benefits section, following a block and batch tasking system allows you to get into a creative flow state. When you’re in that state…..oh, how you can whip through some words!
Do all of your writing when you’re in your optimal zone for it. Then move on to other tasks that don’t require as much creativity for you when you aren’t.
I know, this is very much like DUH again. But why would you not optimize your client work, AKA the genius stuff you do, and try to do it all when you’re in the best possible mindset for it?
You’ll do better work, hit your targets quickly and easily, and reap massive amounts of love from your clients.
Keyword research, looking a Google Analytics to find trends, and scrolling through Pinterest to find ideas of what you want to write all count!
Social Media Scheduling
Instead of scheduling your social posts per day, schedule per network and in a quantity of time. Bang out all of Instagram for two weeks, then move to Twitter, then into your Pinterest scheduler of choice, and so on.
You are scheduling your posts, right?
After you have a bunch of posts written, move on to making your graphics. It’s easier to make five graphics in a row than to start and stop five different times.
(That is, if you don’t outsource it, too.)
I’d love to know: when are you scheduling your next batching day? What will you be working on?
Pop over to Instagram and let me know or share in the comments here!
Original post published January 24, 2017, has been updated with: better copy (I wrote it so I can say that), new techniques, and new graphics.