While most productivity methods focus on chunks of time throughout a single day, there are few that address what you can get done in a string of many days. So much planning can be daunting, but there’s one method that can help you structure longer stretches of time for the better. It’s called “task batching.”
What is task batching?
At its most basic, task batching is the act of grouping similar tasks or responsibilities together and completing them around the same time. Ideally, you can work on all the tasks at once, somewhat multitasking but still staying in the same frame of mind for all the jobs. Your goal here is to avoid context switching, or changing mental energies between tasks. (In general, multitasking makes you worse at everything.)
For instance, instead of jumping from your inbox to bills to video calls to washing dishes to cleaning, batch the emails and video calls together, batch the dishes and cleaning, and save bills for a different day. Keeping yourself in the same mind frame will help you stay focused instead of allowing your thoughts to be pulled in a bunch of different directions.
How to batch your tasks effectively
At the start of each week, start with your regular to-do list, but then group together the similar things and schedule those groups for specific days. For example, if you need to buy dog food, summer school supplies, and groceries, schedule a shopping trip for one day of the week. If you have dinner scheduled with a friend and also need to call your mom and check in, try to do all those social check-ins on the same day. Writing-intensive work goes in a batch, no matter if it’s for school, work, or pleasure. Personal and professional emails all get handled in one batch. Household tasks go in a batch, whether they’re cleaning or unpacking from a trip.
If you have a big party or event coming up, schedule the prep for a single day instead of picking up one necessity one day and another the next. Complete your similar tasks in one day so you can move on and focus on the next group the following day.
Per Indeed, one key step here is not just pre-scheduling your batches at the beginning of the week, but checking in on their progress as the week goes on. Deadlines can change (or be missed), and what was low-priority on Monday may suddenly be important on Wednesday. Task batching helps you to get more done in big chunks, which frees you up for the unexpected emergencies or responsibilities that might crop up.