How to Organize Your Day With Task Batching
If you’ve found yourself with a never-ending to-do list and dreaming of all of the things you could have accomplished during the day, then it’s time to reconsider how you organize your Passion Planner. Instead of a to-do list or a schedule that bounces from a meeting to a project and back to a meeting, you can plan your day by grouping similar tasks together — a process called task batching.
What is Task Batching?
Task batching is a scheduling system that works by breaking down your tasks, labeling them by their core function, and then building out your planner with similar functions grouped together. The idea is that you can better focus on work that is similar, reducing your mental strain and allowing you to get more done more efficiently.
The other core component to task batching is what you schedule when. Every part of your day should have a block in your schedule, including simple tasks like emails. If you’re always answering emails then you’re breaking your brain’s focus and wasting an average of 21 minutes each day. So, when’s the best time to check your email? That depends on you and when you’re the most and least focused in your day—you should schedule tasks that require the most brainpower for when you concentrate the best.
What are the Benefits of Task Batching?
Even with a daily schedule, most people find themselves bouncing between tasks, getting pulled into new projects, and breaking their focus for meetings scattered throughout the day. Some of this is unavoidable, but most of us are convinced that we’re wisely dividing our time to get a little of everything done but there’s just too much to do. Worse still, we may even be convinced we’re effective multi-taskers—which is almost definitely not true.
When we spend our days bouncing between projects we usually don’t cross anything off of our to-do’s. We end our day exhausted and eager for a break, but unable to disconnect from all of the work we know is waiting for us. It’s an unhealthy cycle that leads to burn-out, decision fatigue, and a poor work-life balance that can damage our career growth and goals.
Task batching helps reduce fatigue and stress in a number of ways:
- Task batching helps you practice staying engaged for longer periods of time, which allows you to get more work done and reduces the mental strain of task switching.
- You can build an accurate schedule when you break your projects down by task, alleviating the stress of deadlines.
- You’ll get more marked off of your to-do because the tasks are clear and concise, so you’ll feel more accomplished at the end of the day.
How to Start Task Batching
Task batching and focus are both a skill that will take time and practice to master. The first step is to build a weekly schedule and see how it goes. You may not estimate the time needed for tasks exactly right, and you’ll probably learn a lot about how you work. Keep adjusting each week until your schedule feels right.
1. List Each of Your Tasks
Start by naming the projects you’re working on and then break those down into clear, bite-sized steps. Keep these ordered chronologically and then make a list of your other daily tasks like reporting, emails, meetings, etc.
2. Label Your Tasks
Once you know what needs to be done, you can start labeling each task by function and concentration required (research, communication, meeting, analysis, etc.). Assign a color to each label to help you stay organized and keep your planner easy to read. As you task batch you’ll see how different labels may need broken down or combined for a more efficient schedule.
3. Group Tasks and Arrange by Priority
Now that you know what each task requires, begin to group them by their labels and when they need to be completed. The more similar the tasks, the better your schedule will flow.
4. Build Your Schedule
Use the task blocks you’ve collected to start building your schedule. Make sure high concentration tasks are planned for your most focused hours and leave the afternoon slump for emails and organization.
Bonus Tips to Stay Productive
- Turn your notifications off to avoid distractions and keep your focus flow.
- It’s okay if things pop up that need immediate attention. Reschedule your original task for later and avoid trying to multitask.
- Choose a few hours each day to dive-in without distractions and let your team know you’re unavailable at that time.
- Schedule regular breaks to refresh so you can come back to work with a clear perspective.
- Practice mindfulness every day to help you relax, reduce stress, and improve your focus.
Check out this infographic for more ways task batching can help you prepare for each day, improve your financial and career goals, and enjoy a healthier work-life balance.
Briana is a content creator from Austin with interests in finance and career development. When she’s not at her desk, you can find her out with her rescue dog, Miko, or enjoying a good book.