Today I wanted to share with you an extremely effective productivity tip. There are millions of tips out there and I’ve tried so many of them, but this one is by far the most successful tip ever. I want to share with you how I use Batching and Time Blocking to better manage my time.
Learn more about creating systems here in these posts:
Friday Freebie: How to Use Workflows to Streamline Your Life
How Using Systems Can Make Your Goals Happen
I am using a Blue Sky Personalized Planner to time block my schedule. I customized my planner to have the hourly layout and added lots of notes pages. You can read more about the Personalized Planners from Blue Sky here.
After tracking my time for a week or two, I started to see when the best times for me to work was. I hated working on my blog and then getting distracted every few minutes. I needed to better manage my time when I worked. With being a work at home mom, it can be hard to find any time to work on the tasks that will help my business. That is until I discovered batching and time blocking!
I’m actually batching right now – I am writing a few of my blog posts!
What is Batching?
First, you must be wondering what in the world is batching? Batching is when you do similar, repetitive tasks all at once in a certain time period to help you focus and avoid distractions which will help you get more done quickly.
For example, say you have to write a big paper with 3 main topics and it’s due next week. A typical procrastinating day would probably look like this: write a little bit of the paper in the morning for 20 minutes, then check your emails, write again, do some research on the topic, and then try to write again. If you were to batch your work instead, you week would look something like this: Monday – do all your research, Tuesday – block out 2-3 hours to work on only topic 1, Wednesday and Thursday – do the other 2 topics, and then Friday – review, and edit!
By spending one or two hours focused only on one task, your brain won’t be forced to switch gears between different activities and you’ll get a lot more done, in a lot less time! By batching tasks you will fight the urge to procrastinate since the decision is already made!
Reasons Why Batching is Great for Productivity
- It helps to you focus – When you have clarity on what you should be working on, your work becomes easy and you won’t get distracted so easily. The longer you work on a task, the more concentrated and focused you are on that task.
- Your work starts becoming more streamlined and efficient – By doing the same tasks over and over again all at once, you start to become better and faster at doing that task! The system will start to sink into your brain and you’ll start to do the task much more quickly and easily.
- It helps you save more time – By being efficient and not having to switch gears between tasks you will save tons of time! There is always a delay when you switch between tasks. It takes you a while to get back into your work and even more time to remember where you left off. All that time adds up! When you batch, you have all the tools you need out and ready for you, kind of like an assembly line. There’s no need to waste time grabbing or opening up other tools or software which wastes more time!
- It simplifies your day – When you work on only one thing during a time block, you get so much more done and in a lot less time. You will finish your day feeling productive because you have finished a task or project. You will no longer feel overwhelmed and stressed out from unfinished work and you will feel better about your day.
What is Time-Blocking?
Time blocking, simply put, is designating blocks of time for certain tasks. You can batch your activities and block out a specific amount of time to do that task into your planner. This works great for planners with an hourly layout. You can also use this method in Google Calendar which is my favorite way to do it!
For maximum productivity and great personal and work life balance, you should make time blocks for all areas of your life, even the ones that you think shouldn’t be planned (like Netflix!). When you plan using time blocks for even the unimportant things, you won’t feel as bad or unproductive when you do it. You will also set a limit for yourself and allow only that 1-2 hours of watching television.
Time blocking allows you to see at a glance how much time you actually have. By blocking out your scheduled time for your events and activities you will see when or if you will have extra time to work on other tasks.
Time blocking also helps you to schedule for the true tasks that will help you to reach your goals like working out or working on your business. Since you are blocking time for it in your schedule, it is more likely to be done. It becomes much more real and easier to grasp, rather than just a dream since it’s planned for in your planner.
Batching your tasks into time blocks will also help you to see when you can work most productively. For me, I found that I can only work on my blog and business when the kids are asleep. I usually find time early in the mornings before the kids wake up and in the afternoon when they are napping. It’s only a few hours a day but because I batch my work and am completely focused during that time block I get SO much done!
Scheduling tasks to every hour of the day may seem tedious but that’s what time management is all about! I love that I have a plan all ready for me. I never have to stress or worry about important deadlines and appointments, or trying to decide what to do next. I just follow what’s written in my planner!
What Can I Batch?
Have no clue what you can do to use this awesome productivity tip? Here are few ideas on what you can batch in your everyday life:
- Shopping & running errands – instead of going out every day to run errands, do it all in one go. I always drop by the post office and do some shopping right after I pick up my son from school now. It saves me time and gas!
- Cleaning – I have specific days when I clean the house, for example, one day will be for bathrooms, another for mopping and sweeping, and another day for cleaning the kitchen. This way I have all the tools and cleaners out already and can do it all in one go.
- Meal Prep – If you don’t have time to make dinner every night or pack lunches for the kids, set aside time during the weekend to prepare it all. My husband and I chop all the veggies and marinate the meats for dinner. For lunches, we make sandwiches and pack snacks in baggies so they’re ready to pack all week long.
- Phone calls – is it just me or do you hate making important calls? When I need to reschedule appointments, call the internet service provider, or dispute a bill, I make a list of all the numbers I need to call and do it all in go.
- Email – Instead of checking your email and responding to 1-2 all throughout the day, set aside batches of time and go through them all at once.
- Learning & Reading – If you’re a self-help junkie like myself, you can never find enough time to read and learn your ebooks and ecourses. I like to set aside a few hours per week where I can catch up on my personal development reading.
- Blogging – If you’re a blogger there are so many ways you can batch! Write multiple posts at a time, create all images for your blog posts at once, respond to all comments, and so much more!
- Family time – Batch all your family visits. We live out of town from most of our family so when we go into town we try to visit all of our family in that 1-2 days. Also, batch time for fun quality time with your own family every night!
- Work: Try to do all your assignments or tasks for a project in one sitting. Having this time blocked out will prevent procrastination.
- Planning: Set aside time to do all your planning for the year or month. Focus on your next big goal or projects and lay it out step by step.
How Can I Schedule My Time?
Blocking out my schedule has helped me to get a lot done and to focus on the project I am working on. You can see an example of what my days and weeks look like from my color coded planner below. I loved using my erasable Frixion highlighters in my personalized Blue Sky Planner. This planner I chose was an hourly layout to better track my time!
To batch and time block your schedule, you can start with a few categories (color coding it would make it easier to see too!). For example, for my life, I chose to use:
- Personal – Pink – this is for anything related to self-care like mani/pedi’s, baths, Netflix etc.
- Kids’ Activities – Green – anything related to my kids’ events, activities, school meetings etc.
- Family/Meals/Errands – Blue – this was a broad category but I wanted to block out time for how long it took to cook meals, run errands, and spend quality time with the family.
- Blog/Work – Purple – this is my time to work on my business and really focus
- Home – Yellow – this is for chores, cleaning the house, decluttering, home projects etc.
Steps to Batch & Time Block Your Schedule:
- Start out with the important, set-in-stone appointments or events first (doctor’s appointments, work hours, meal times, meetings etc.).
- Decide on times where you will be most productive, and schedule that time as your focused work time to work on your biggest goal for the day.
- Schedule in the little things that will help you to achieve balance in your life (exercising, quality time with family or friends, self-care activities, community activities etc.)
- Then schedule everything else – keep some white space and buffer time in your schedule. It’s always good to overestimate the time it takes to do a task. Use this time to do what you want, schedule in some Netflix time, or nap times! On the other hand, if you feel productive, then focus on work some more!
You can then also choose to block out specific days in your week that you’ll focus on. I’ve started applying this productivity tip to everything I do and it’s made such a difference!
This is how I started batching my days to be able to get more done all around, I write this at the very top of the day to help me remember what to focus on:
Monday – Blog writing
Tuesday – eCourse/email marketing
Wednesday: – Blog images
Thursday: – Etsy Shop/Silhouette Designs
Friday: – Blog Scheduling
Even though I batch my days to work on different tasks I still feel like I am getting distracted and not finishing a project at the end of the week. So I’ve decided to focus on one main project per week. I think if I can batch my projects by weeks instead of days I would be able to see much faster progress.
Time Blocking can be a pretty fun way to plan your schedule! Review your schedule and adjust it to your lifestyle. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t follow this schedule completely. If your day didn’t go as planned just give yourself permission to move on.
This takes time to perfect, but it helps you to manage your time much better. When you know what you need to be working on and when, you are much more able to focus and be less distracted.
If you’d like to learn more in detail on how to plan more productively, my new workbook, Wonderful Plans, includes so much more. Take your productivity to another level and get my system for planning here: Wonderful Plans Workbook