If you are looking to increase the amount of work you get done over a certain period of time, in other words, boost your productivity at work, then mastering batch processing is for you! While being able to multitask is an important skill, there is no substitute for the time gains you can create by using batching as a productivity tool.
If you struggle to find the kind of flow state or deep focus you need to get things done, batch processing may also help you. Read on to learn more about this simple productivity technique.
What Is Batch Processing?
Batch processing, also known as batching, is a method of organizing your workflow to complete similar types of tasks together.
You are already doing batch processing in your life. For example, when you go to the grocery store, you probably make a list and buy as many items as you need for the next week. Rather than going to the store 7 times, you only go once.
In this example, batching is saving a ton of time and energy. Think about all those extra trips to the store in terms of time spent driving, the cost of gas, the time walking the isles to locate the items, the time you spend in line, etc.
Of course, when we batch process at work, the time saving is usually less dramatic. However, efficiency experts agree that batching is one of the top ways to save time and energy at work, freeing you up for other tasks, and surpassing your supervisor’s expectations.
Examples of batch processing in the workplace include:
- A server at a restaurant checking on each table in their section on each pass through the dining room.
- An accountant entering receipts in a large batch into their tracking software.
- A social media director posting the same post on all of the client’s social media platforms at once.
- A carpenter making all of the cuts before beginning assembly of a given project.
- A manager who blocks off 3 one-hour segments of the day and devotes them to managing email.
How Does Batching Save Time at Work?
When you do any task at work there are several things that take place just prior to you starting the task. For example:
- You locate the tools you need, including opening software programs, locating files, or sourcing parts for the job.
- You get your head in the right framework to think about the task and complete it.
- You may need to check on the history of the task to identify your next steps.
- You need to be physically located in such a way to complete the task such as being at your desk or going to the copy room.
Each of these preparation steps takes time and focus. So, by doing the prep work once and then completing several similar tasks, the time saved becomes clear. The more you are able to batch, the more time will be saved by avoiding the preparation for each additional task.
In addition, you are saving your energy, a precious commodity at work. Switching between tasks consumes mental and physical energy. The more you are able to manage your workflow to include batching, the more energy you save for actually getting things done.
Batching and Your Flow State
Another benefit of batching is what psychologists refer to as the “flow state.”
Have you ever caught yourself so engrossed in something that you seem to lose track of time and you actually feel energized rather than drained from the work? This mental state is often referred to as a “flow state.” And, research has shown that we can be incredibly productive when we achieve this type of focus on our work.
Batching helps to create and maintain a flow state. As you organize your work into similar tasks, the repetition of the actual work involved creates a kind of rhythm. This rhythm helps to allow the subconscious parts of your brain to take over some of the work, saving your thinking mind for more important decisions.
Yes, sometimes going into “auto-pilot” can be a successful strategy for getting repetitive tasks done in a hurry.
Deleting Distractions at Work for Deep Focus
Another advantage of batching your tasks at work is that you can become more aware of reducing distractions during specific blocks of time that you devote to certain tasks.
Again, while multitasking certainly has a place at work, constant distractions keep your mind from developing the kind of deep focus that is required for certain types of work, especially those that require attention to detail over an extended period of time.
Tips to Make Batch Processing Work for You
Start by taking some time to write down all of the tasks that you find yourself doing throughout the day. Focus in on those tasks that you find yourself doing over and over such as email, calling clients, data entry, etc. These are the ones most ripe for batching.
Schedule Time, Test, and Adjust
Start by estimating the time you need each day to do those tasks, and schedule one or two blocks of time to accomplish them, prioritizing time sensitive tasks. Give your new system a try for a few days and make some notes about how it is going. Be willing to adjust your scheduling to improve your workflow as needed.
Another tip is to create alerts with your calendar or other scheduling apps to remind you of the time you have set aside for batching certain types of tasks.
If you are able to, try to turn off any notifications by silencing your phone or turning off your email program. In some cases, you may even need to send calls to voicemail to make sure that your deep focus tasks get the attention they need.
Communicate with Co-Workers and Supervisors
Getting other team members and your supervisor on board with your plan to set aside a specific time each day for batching tasks can go a long way to helping you be successful with this strategy.
Batch Time to Get Organized
Staying organized at work is another big timesaver when it comes to workplace efficiency. Many people find it very helpful to schedule time to do organizational tasks such as filing or putting tools away, often near the end of the work day. This way, everything is right where you need it to hit the ground running tomorrow!