Use Batching to Save Time with 4 Common Office Tasks

 

You’ve probably heard it before: multitasking is a time-killer. Focusing on one thing at a time is usually more efficient.

 
 
When we think we’re multitasking we’re actually multiswitching. That is what the brain is very good at doing – quickly diverting its attention from one place to the next. We think we’re being productive. We are, indeed, being busy. But in reality we’re simply giving ourselves extra work.
— Michael Harris
 

It’s certainly been true in my experience, but how can we fix it?

One solution is batching: Grouping like tasks together in blocks so that we can “get in the groove” as we repeat the same type of task over and over using the same tools and ways of thinking.

At Knapsack we apply this approach to most of our work. Here are a few examples that will hopefully save you time and help you get more done!

 
 
 
 

1. Meetings

If you’ve ever set up a meeting with us, you’ll notice that we batch all of our meetings with clients onto Mondays and Wednesdays so that we can focus on the remaining days of the week with minimal interruption.

How might this work for you? Could you have meetings on certain days of the week? Or maybe you could take all of your meetings in the afternoons and have your mornings free to focus.

 
 
 

2. Questions from co-workers

Our Client Experience Specialist (Joy) keeps track of decisions I need to make and talks to me once per day at approximately the same time for about 30 minutes. That way we can take care of everything at once instead of interrupting both of us throughout the day.

Could you set up a recurring meeting like this with your employees, co-workers or boss? Would it help cut down on interruptions?

 
 
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3. Fulfilling client requests

When we launched our Squarespace website support membership to help people keep their sites updated every week, we decided to set aside Wednesday mornings so we could complete all of the requests back-to-back to keep things efficient. In this way we’re able to serve more than 50 members with just a few hours of work per week.

Are there certain types of work that you can limit to certain days per week? Or could you wait until you have all of the feedback from a client before starting to make the changes they requested?

 
 
 

4. Emails

Keeping up with email communication has always been a weakness for me. However, the times when I’ve used batching have been the most successful. Each day I would check my email and reply to all of them at the same time, and not check my email the rest of the day. This helped me keep on top of things while preventing constant distraction.

Could you check and reply to your email just once a day? It might take some up-front discussions to change expectations, but if you emphasize that it will be helping you be more productive, your co-workers may get on board with it too.

 
 
 

Start batching at your office

Here are a few things you could do to start batching:

  • Meetings: Limit to specific days of the week

  • Questions from co-workers: Set a specific time of day

  • Client requests: List out the types of work you could batch

  • Emails: Set at time (or times) of day where you check and reply

Do you use batching in your work?

 
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