Have you ever had people tell you “Wow, you’re SO busy! How do you even have time to sleep? You must be SO exhausted!” I used to think that being busy showed that I was a hard worker getting things done and I would take pride when people would say that to me. I would smile and agree that I was busy – and exhausted, but I was managing to get stuff done, and then go on my way. However, one day I stopped and reflected on what I was actually getting done and removing from my plate to make me less busy and less exhausted. Once I started really thinking through tasks that I had worked through from start to finish, I was shocked when I realized that I had a bunch of half-finished tasks on my plate. I realized that this was causing my brain to focus on too many things at any given time and that I wasn’t finishing tasks like I thought I was. This constant use of my brain power was exhausting me and that it was causing me to let some things slip through the cracks. It finally dawned on me that BUSY and PRODUCTIVE are NOT the same thing. What a revelation that was! I decided that I needed to focus more on time management and started looking up ways to help me be more productive with my time.
We are all balancing so many unique tasks every day that it can be hard to prioritize and organize your thoughts to make a functional to-do list. Distractions are everywhere, and studies have shown that it takes on average 15 minutes to regain complete focus! That is a lot of time lost during the day! This is why I was so excited when I found out about the concept of “batching” and how it saves time and makes life simpler. Batching can help you to prioritize similar tasks in your life in a way that makes them easier to manage and finish. I don’t know about you, but I have learned that my confidence soars when I’ve accomplished something and can cross it completely off my list!
So, how does batching work?
First, you will want to collect up a group of similar activities and do them all at the same time. This is the main principle behind batching. You could collect up all your personal e-mail answering, household chores, shopping, and even cooking at one time. Second, you want to decide what day or time would be best for each of these similar activities to happen. You will then plug in those activities into your weekly schedule. For the ones that don’t have a set day or time to be done, you can save those for last and put them in where you think the best time to get them done would be. Finally, you want to make sure you stick to your schedule but don’t beat yourself up if you miss something or realize you didn’t allot enough time for tasks. That’s ok, just regroup, try not to lose your focus or let it derail you, and add in another time slot for that week to finish the task. I bet after a week or two of doing this, you’re going to see that you are getting so much more accomplished and realize how productive you have been.
Here are some examples of how batching could fit in your life:
- Cooking: No time to prepare proper meals each day? Set aside a few hours on Sunday to cook meals for the week (also called meal prepping). This also works great for making sure you have healthy lunches available for the week.
- Errands: Cut down on gas usage and do all your grocery shopping, dry cleaning, and visits to the gas station all at one time, especially if they are all located in the same area or town. Another great way to save on time is to use a one stop shop like Sam’s Club or BJ’s to get groceries, gas, prescriptions, or household items in one location.
- Shopping: Spend less time online shopping by gathering your list of things that you need to purchase that week and knock them out at once. This is why I love Amazon.com. I can go to one place on line and get most everything I need to purchase online. (Heads up – soon on Amazon you will also be able to order True North Beauty products, sign up for our Newsletter to be one of the first to hear about it!)
- Magazine/Article Reading: Do you have several subscriptions mailed to you? Read through them all at one time and get them off your coffee table. This will help to declutter your space and make cleaning easier.
- Cleaning and laundry: Do all your cleaning-related chores at one time. Start off by setting your oven to clean. By cleaning your oven you are giving yourself a set time of 3 hours to finish and do all of your chores. From there, start a load of laundry and while it is washing, work on a chore like vacuuming. Switch over your laundry and start the dishwasher. Work on other chores while your clothes are drying. Once dry, put away your clothes, and then empty the dishwasher. This is a great way to multitask your chores so you aren’t waiting for things to finish and your over should be done just as you finish!
- Email: Set aside batches of time solely focused on your personal email so you can and delete spam or old messages. This will help keep your email clean, organized, and easy to keep track of items that need your attention.
- Bills: If you still pay bills by hand or use online payments, scheduling 15-mins to get this done will allow you to keep on top of them without a huge time commitment, in lieu of paying them as they come in. A better way to save time, would be to set up automatic bill payment so it will withdraw from your account each month, saving you the time of having to write out a check or log in to your account to pay each bill every time.
These are just a few ways that you can batch items together to help save yourself some time and to check things off of your to-do list each day. If you try this, I would love to hear about what you batch together and how it is working for you! Leave us a message in the comments and your suggestion might help someone else!