The Secret Art of Batching

Jared Massey —  September 30, 2011 — 1 Comment

I know that this is not a secret, but I also know that it is an art.  The single greatest thing that I have done in order to keep myself productive is to batch my tasks.  Since I started doing this, I’ve learned more about why it works and have even seen ideas like the pomodoro technique that refine the idea, but batching is just something I started doing because it made sense.  Let me explain it to you a little (please keep in mind that I am not an expert in this by any means and I will share some expert links at the end of the post).

Batching is, quite simply, working on batches of similar tasks.  For example, rather than open up my curriculum website once a week and downloading the upcoming curriculum, I download the whole month’s curriculum at once.  I even try to edit as much of the month as possible in one sitting.  I use batching in my secular job all the time as well.  I even do it at home.

One of the things I’ve learned about why this process is successful has to do with the brain’s ability to multitask, more specifically the fact that it can’t.  Switching between completely different tasks is counterproductive.  Staying focused on similar tasks gives the brain the time it needs to fully focus on the task at hand and then allows it to process that information faster.

Here’s another thing I do.  I don’t delete email as soon as I receive it, even if it is completely junk.  That might really bother advocates of the zero inbox theory, one of whom is myself.  I believe in zero inbox, but I let emails pile up and then take care of them all at once.  I might visit this once a week or once every couple days depending on the load.  The key here is to not let it get out of control, but also to not spend your entire day deleting email.

At home, I pay all recurring bills for the entire month at the same time (or set up automatic payments).  Rather than visit my checkbook and bills every time I get a bill in the mail, I only touch this process once for the entire month.  Time saved on bills is time spent making money to pay them. :)

Other examples that I have used personally include, letting some papers pile up and filing them all at once, doing the dishes or laundry, sending emails, writing blog posts, etc.

What similar types of tasks do you have that you could be batching?  How do you use batching in your private or professional life?  Do you use this technique, but didn’t even realize it?  Leave a comment below letting us know.

For some reading from people who are way smarter than I am, check out any or all of these links.

Joshua Leatherman shares some great insight on batching and the pomodora technique on Michael Hyatt’s blog.  This post really helped me refine how I batch my tasks and explained a lot of the “why.”

Batching is a technique originially developed to make computers more efficient.  I didn’t know this until I was researching this post.

Darren Rowse shares how he uses this same technique to be a successful blogger.  Even if you are not a blogger, there is a lot of insight to be gained in this post.

Jared Massey

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Jared is the associate pastor at Warsaw Assembly of God in Warsaw, IL where his primary responsibilities include children's and youth ministries. He also works full time during the week at local bank. He is married to his high school sweetheart and they have one son.

One response to The Secret Art of Batching

  1. Great post and reminder. I’ve heard of this idea before, from one of the other pastors when I was a children’s pastor. It really helped me to use blocks of time, instead of 15 minute tasks.

    I use it a lot when blogging / writing. It helps me get ahead of schedule with my posts.

    But if only I could learn to write faster . . .

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