As a business owner you wear A LOT of hats. That can be fun, and it also can be extremely challenging when you feel like you are constantly bouncing from one task to another. That's where batch working and time blocking comes to the rescue. I discovered it a couple years ago, and find when I implement it, I am highly, highly productive. Who doesn't feel amazing after a highly productive day of checking things off the list?
Batch Working Explained
The concept behind batch working is to group similar tasks together. For example, when you need to mow the law, trim the hedges, and weed the flower beds, you batch it together and call it yard work. The same concept goes for activities in your work day. Batch working increases productivity, and increased productivity cuts stress for many bloggers and entrepreneurs.
Reduces time wasted - We waste so much time switching between one task to another. Cut out the time in-between tasks by not switching them every 5 minutes. Example, don't load your email inbox every 15 minutes while you are trying to write a blog post. Don't check your Instagram when you finish a paragraph (talking to myself here).
Reduces daily clutter - When I talk about clutter, I'm talking about the "too many tabs open" in my brain kind of clutter. One tab at a time, until that project is complete and you will be amazed with the simplicity of working this way.
Increases focus - THIS. Did you know that multi-tasking isn't really a thing? There is something called "switch tasking," and that is what many of us practice in our daily work (especially if you work on the computer).
Hell, I just did it this very second as I was telling you not to do it. The culprit? I got a text. Inside the text was a picture for a client's social media. I saved the picture, opened up Instagram, and the photo (with some text) to the story. Then I went over to Facebook to write a post about it. Guilty as charged.
Pro tip: keep your phone on silent in a different room if it isn't needed for that batch of work. You might be saying, but Miranda what if someone calls? It's 2019, they can leave a voicemail (make sure your mailbox isn't full), OR more likely, they can send you an email (which you will check when you get to that batch of work).
Time Blocking Explained
Batch working is the first step. Next, is the practice of "time blocking." For me, blocking out time to perform batch work has been a game changer. Some people like to designate certain days of the week for certain activities like blogging, reading, or phone calls. I do this a little bit, but since I am always juggling a million deadlines, I like to have those in place as well as a weekly schedule based on current priorities.
Here is the important part. The physical act of actually blocking off time. Once I have my to-do list for the week, I go to my calendar and put appointments on it for each activity that needs completed. I estimate how long that activity will take (you will find a lot LESS time than you expected if you are batch working), and I block it off on my calendar as "work time." Having a set amount of time to finish something creates a little fire under your butt to get it done. And damn, crossing off projects is an amazing feeling.
So here is a list of 20 things you can batch work & time block:
Checking your email - I've started checking mine once or twice a day. How? I quit leaving it open on my laptop, and I moved the app on my phone to a hard to reach place (think second page of the iPhone home screen).
Blogging - I write at least two blog posts per week... in the morning because that is when I am most productive. Find tasks that are hard for you to focus on & schedule them during your high productivity times.
Email marketing - Email marketing happens on Fridays. I write our newsletter, send it out, and schedule any other communications for the following week. I also check my email automation stats and list growth (it's all inside of one tool, ActiveCampaign).
Website content updates - Once a week, I make changes to the website. If ideas for changes pop up throughout the week, I jot them down in my notebook.
Marketing analytics - I batch each analytics task with the item. Like email and website above. This keeps me from having to pop in and out of many different softwares.
Phone calls - I've started blocking of days of the week where people can't schedule appointments with me. This forces them to choose a time block in one of my "phone call" days. Acuity scheduling software makes this possible.
Social media scheduling - I spend 1-2 days if the week scheduling out social for each client, and I spend a few hours each week to schedule my own personal social media using Later for Instagram and Tailwind for Pinterest.
I also batch all the photos I need for Instagram on Saturdays. I take all the photos for the week and sit down to edit them in one sitting.
Meetings - I don't have many in-person meetings, but I do have tons of virtual ones. I always block off my Friday from these so I can get things buttoned up for the weekend and ready to roll for Monday. I couldn’t survive without Acuity scheduling. My clients can book meetings with me at times which I designate as available and it sinks up with ALL my other digital calendars to keep my schedule accurate and up to date.
Cleaning - Being the clean freak that I am, this one can be hard for me. We have a big dog, and I wish I could vacuum up after him each day. Saturday mornings are for cleaning. I turn up the Alexa, throw on some tunes, and get to work with a fierce determination to enjoy the rest of my day (knowing my house is scrubbed & clean).
If you have the means, cleaning is a great thing to outsource (and you can write if off on your taxes if your house is your business address). As an entrepreneur, your time is SO valuable. This is a good place to get it back.
Shopping - Shopping is another thing you can outsource if possible. Amazon & Shipt will have groceries and household items delivered right to your door. Bonus points if you automate the orders and things just show up. Less time thinking about what you need and what you are out of. Amazon will notice buying patterns and help you determine purchase frequency.
Working Out - As an entrepreneur you MUST workout! Why? Just read this blog post. Anyways, my gym offers classes all throughout the day. If I am super productive and meeting all my deadlines, I head to the 5:00PM class. If I can't make it in time, I attend the 6:00PM class. This is actually the time of day that I feel the worst (tired, sluggish, etc.), so working out is the perfect thing to block during this time. If I was blocking blogging during these hours, I would get nothing done.
Cooking - I'm sure you know some crazy person that meal preps. You spend a few hours cooking on Sunday and dish up meals for the week. I know some people that even make enough food for the month and throw it in the freezer. I'm not a big meal prep fan because I don't like eating the same things over and over again. Post-gym is cooking time for us. Every single day. It's routine and habit.
Thinking - This might seems weird, but having dedicated time for thinking will help your mind stop racing. Give yourself an hour each week to dream, plan, and brainstorm business ideas, blog topics, marketing campaigns, investments, etc.
Journal time - I recently started writing in a journal after hearing over and over and over how good it can be for you. Each morning I wake up and have journal time with a cup of coffee. When my coffee is done, I close the journal and begin my day. I know others who like to do this at night to "clear their mind," but I find journaling makes me think, which I don't want to be doing when I'm trying to fall asleep.
Meditating - I can't lie and say I've incorporated this into my schedule, but I plan to. Meditation can be a huge stress relief getting your mind at ease and back on track.
Social activities - As an entrepreneur it can be easy to lock yourself in your office and never see friends or family. Make time for family dinner or social events on your weekends. If someone invites you to something (with enough time in advance) put it on your calendar!
Planning - I nerd out on planning. I do it on Monday's for the week. First, I write it out in my paper calendar (yep you read that right). Then I type it all into my digital calendar. This might seem repetitive, but I like to know I'm not missing anything. I also do daily planning when I write in my journal. Why? People, I love planning, so that's often what I write about.
Sleep - People! Please schedule your sleep. This probably sounds insane, but doing this will ensure you one, get enough sleep, and two, create a sleep/awake schedule that your body can naturally relate to day in and day out. I'm in bed at 10PM and up at 7AM. My body is completely aware of when to go to bed & when to get up.
Repairs - You know all those little things that are nagging you around the house? Write out a list and schedule time to knock them out. Write out every pesky little thing you need done, head to the store if you need supplies for them, come back and blow through the list at once.
I promise you, if you can make this a habit and get on a batch work routine your life will change! You will get so much more done in a day leaving room for rest & relaxation on the weekends or whenever you like to step away from work. For me, that time is in the evenings. Do you batch work and time block?