Grouping or batching tasks can be an easy way to be more productive.
We’ve already learned about the ineffectiveness of multi-tasking as a way of working.
Grouping tasks enables your brain to process information more quickly because you are dealing with several similar things at the same time. Your brain uses less energy and you don’t feel drained – it’s a good result all round.
Here are some examples of things that can be batched together;
Admin tasks such as online banking
When scheduling you should aim to slot in times/periods for working on similar tasks together.
Emails could be checked at 11am and 4pm for example
Reading could be scheduled in the afternoon when energy levels are lower.
Yes this technique is simple but that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective.
What activities/tasks/actions could you batch or group together?
Looking at the above group which is the most important?
What time on what day next week could you do these tasks/actions?
IN AND OUT DAYS
Meetings can easily eat up your working time and they are one of the biggest sources of frustrations to many people in work.
I want you to think about how you schedule your days.
As we now the brain doesn’t like switching around all the time – it’s ineffective as a way of working and it uses up lots of energy.
An easy way to use your diary to help you be more productive is to schedule days when you are in and days when you are out.
Knowing that you are going to be “in” for half a day or a full day helps you mind settle more quickly to the task/project you are working on.
Likewise knowing you are going to be “out” enables you to focus on the people you are meeting or the event you are attending without worrying, as you know you have time allocated for doing important work scheduled in your diary.
The hardest thing with this technique is sticking to it. It’s easy for the schedule to be thrown off by someone who wants to arrange a meeting at the last minute, or an interesting event that pops up and you want to go along to.
As with so many of the techniques I am describing this one gets easier the more you use it. I would recommend trying this for 1 or 2 days a week initially and then building up until you find the balance that is right for you and your role. For some people perhaps being out of the office for 4 days is right, for others it might be the reverse.
When you are invited to a meeting or thinking of attending an event reflect on the following questions to help you decide if it will be a productive use of your time.
How long will the meeting/event take, including all the travel time?
What will you achieve as a result of going? (Specifics are needed here – if you are intending to network how many contacts do you want to get for example)
What will you achieve as a result of not going? (Can you use the time to make progress on something else instead for example?)
Can you receive the information from the meeting/event in another way? (Webcast, minutes etc?)
What difference will attending this meeting or event make to your goals?