Batching Your Work for Efficiency and Productivity

my time tracking

My time tracking sheet. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Last month I blogged about the many job roles we as writers have.

I promised a follow up with the discoveries I made. I hope you can take even a little of what’s here to bring you sanity, less stress, efficiency, and productivity to your life as a writer.

First I created a tracking sheet in MS Excel. Initially, I incremented the hours in 30-minute slots. After a day or two of tracking, I realized I needed 15-minute increments, so I reworked my document.

Then came the nitty gritty of tracking my time. At the end of each week, I computed the hours I worked and separated them out according to my job roles.

The Results

  • Tracking my time made me more conscious of time.
  • I got an accurate picture of where I was spending my time. Who knew that cooking meals, washing dishes, and doing other household chores took so much time! Fortunately, I wasn’t spending much time on social media and most of my time was on work that helps pay the bills.
  • I got an accurate picture of how much time I was spending on each of my job roles. We can often feel we’re spending more time doing something than we really are or vice versa. This allowed me to see just how much time in my day I spend on family responsibilities as well as my many particular job roles.
  • I work an average 50-60 hours/week. Granted I don’t have a husband or children at home, so this isn’t necessarily an issue. But now I have numbers to prove why I feel like all I do is work.
  • My only relaxation consists of watching TV.

During this process I found on a podcast from StoryBrand’s Donald Miller when he interviewed Michael Hyatt (episode #143). The title spoke directly to my need: “How to Stop Hustling so You Can Achieve What Really Matters.”   (also available at other podcast platforms). I recommend a listen.

Between what I picked up from the podcast and my time tracking, here are the changes I’m implementing this week to be more efficient, productive, and add fun to my life.

The Changes

I will start batching my job tasks.

Batching means I’m not switching back and forth every hour (or more) from one task to another. By sticking to one type of task, my mind stays in the zone of that work. When you switch back and forth, your mind has to shift gears and refocus each time. Michael Hyatt calls that context switching.

On the podcast, Michael Hyatt discussed how he spends a day and a half doing nothing but recording podcasts. Donald Miller called that mega batching. For me, that sounds very workable. And I’m giving it a try.

This means I’ll schedule full days on a weekly or monthly basis for

  • Marketing
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Administrative tasks

For example, I’ll spend an entire day (or two) doing all my writing—my book, blog posts, a press release, back cover copy, etc.—whether for my freelance work or for CrossRiver.

Next, I fine tuned my yearly goals.

I then created a quarterly (90-day) plan for what remains in April-June with my top 3 goals. Under each goal I listed steps to help me reach each goal. Each morning, I’ll review my quarterly and weekly goals and then pick the top priorities to complete that day toward achieving those goals.

Below are pictures to demonstrate.

a quarterly plan

A portion of my quarterly plan for April-June.

 

a daily task list

A daily task list.

And finally, I’ll be more proactive to include healthy relaxation and fun in my week/month.

Did this take time to do? Yes.

Was it worth the effort? A resounding yes. I feel so much more in control of my day and my time, plus I have a better road map to help me reach my goals.

When life interrupts—and it will—I’ll still have a map to help me get back on track.

None of this work required special software or apps, though I know time management apps are out there. I think by tracking my time on a piece of paper is what made me more cognizant of time.

Use whatever works best for you.

My goal in all this was to relieve the stress of my workload. My workload hasn’t changed, but I discovered efficient ways to handle the work and find more joy and relaxation in my week.

Have you tried batching, and if so, how has it worked for you?

Copyright 2019 Debra L. Butterfield

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Comments

  1. Sheriena Bruner McEvers says:

    I will definitely be thinking about this.

    • I’m only in my first week of doing it, but it’s working well for me. I’m more focused and getting more work done in less time.

  2. Gail, I think the batching is going to really help me. Hope you find it helpful as well.

  3. Love the idea of starting a time track! I’ve found The 12 Week Year a good resource for motivation, but your idea of batching excites me. I have so many projects going that batching might help. Thanks for the idea.

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