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How to Batch Work (and Save Yourself Hours)

GOAL DIGGER

207-Blog How to Batch Work (and Save Yourself Hours)

Let me give it to you straight, Goal Diggers… You may THINK you are being productive when you tackle many projects at once, but that is simply not true.

Here are the facts

The average time spent on a task before losing focus is only 1 minute 15 seconds. And here’s the thing… we’re not REALLY multitasking. We are just switching our mind back and forth rapidly from one task to another. AKA, not giving either task our full attention. Multi-taskers reduce productivity by FORTY PERCENT across the board. When multitasking, it takes 50% longer to accomplish a certain task, not to mention, it increases errors by 50%. And this one… heavy multi-tasking can temporarily lower IQ up to 15 points (Ahem, which is THREE TIMES the effect of smoking cannabis.)

Did that get your attention? Good! It’s one thing to know that multi-tasking isn’t efficient for your business (or your life!), but it’s another to actively choose to focus on one task at a time. So that’s why I am going to teach you how to ditch the multi-tasking lifestyle and transition into my personal work style: batch working. I can truly say batch working has transformed my business… but it wasn’t always easy or natural to me! I was obsessed with having my hands in many projects at once and convinced that multi-tasking was simply “the way I worked”, but with time, I have solidified a plan that allows me to work ahead, plan with strategy, work efficiently, and have time off to truly REST. Sound to good to be true? Well, I promise it’s very true. Without further ado, this is Batch Working 101!

WHAT IS BATCH WORKING?

Batch working is highly-focused, topic-specific forms of working. What do I mean by this? It is dividing your workflow into different days/hours of ONE TOPIC instead of jumping around from task to task.

To learn what batching is, let’s first learn what batching is not. For example, with this podcast, it would be so easy for me to record one off episodes to keep up with the flow of the show. Which would mean every week, I’d record one solo show and one guest show and then release them the next week. While this may not seem like too bad of a system, it creates a stream of CONSTANT work because each week I would be thinking about finding a guest, scheduling the interview, picking a topic, writing questions, sending them prep, sharing logistics, recording, writing a solo show, recording it… And repeating it all over again the next week and the next week. Not to mention the fact, that if anything went wrong (a guest cancelled, my microphone didn’t work, the topic didn’t feel right…) I would have to scramble to get shows done for the next week. Yuck! Even talking about this is making me feel anxious!

Now let’s talk about this same scenario with BATCH WORK and you’ll see how different it sounds! We are doing the same tasks, but doing them for 15 episodes instead of just 1 at a time. While this may sound overwhelming, you are really just doing the same exact tasks, but focusing in on them with a little more longevity. Instead of thinking of one show topic or one guest, we think of 15 to 20 topics at a time! As a team, we brainstorm and narrow down our upcoming episodes, and then get the ball rolling. I will really focus in on the podcast for an hour or so while we brainstorm, and then I don’t think about it again for a while. I just essentially just batched thinking of show topics instead of thinking of each episode one by one.

This is the same for scheduling interviews with guests. Instead of brainstorming and scheduling one recording session with a guest, we will book 10-15 interviews over a 2 to 3 day span. That means I only set up my podcast equipment once every 2 months, get “in the zone” and record 15 interviews instead of just one. While this seems crazy, instead of being a week ahead, I am suddenly 15 weeks ahead. And it when all is said and done, it took less time because I wasn’t repeating the same processes one-by-one for interviews, I did it all in a “batch” format, creating an efficient workflow!

Recording a podcast with a batch method means that every month or so, my team and I brainstorm, write show notes, and schedule 10-15 interviews, spend a few days crazy focused to record them all and then BAM, it’s done! While it does take hard work and diligence, then suddenly, I don’t have to even THINK about the podcast for another few months. Sounds quite different than winging it week by week, doesn’t it?!

Basically: Instead of repeating the same thing week after week, we only have to do it every month or so and then are able to work in a state of focus instead of scrambling.

IS BATCH WORKING RIGHT FOR YOU?

Sounds great, doesn’t it? While I think we can all agree that working from a highly organized, efficient place is a great thing, you may be wondering if it is right for your business and life.

And I’m telling you, it is! Batch working is especially great for those of you who are cranking out content on a regular basis: blogs, Instagram captions, weekly emails, Youtube videos, captions, whatever it may be… Batching what you are working on allows you to focus in for a day or two, create crazy amounts of content, and then take it out of your mind for WEEKS at a time!

Can you believe it? Instead of every day jumping around from working on the intro of a blog post and jumping to post on Instagram and going back to edit your Youtube video and then getting sucked into a podcast interview and SO ON, you would enter a day knowing that today, my ONLY job is to write three blog posts. You focus in, work hard, and boom, it’s done!

But what about everything else you have to do besides the blog posts? Well, you should batch that too!

The next day of the week can be dedicated to recording a Youtube video from start to finish! No more half-finishing projects, because you’ll know exactly what you need to do that day to get ahead and accomplish a task. Not only does this keep your business moving forward, it frees you up mentally, and frees you up your time to focus on other projects in your business because you can rest assured that your next three blogs and your Youtube video are ready to go! Now you are free to focus on smaller tasks because you know the biggest things are checked off. Think how mentally freeing that is!

While I mentioned, batch working is especially great for content creators, I think it should have a place in every business. Whether it is dedicating certain weekdays to certain aspects of your business (i.e., Monday: Podcast Outlines, Tuesday: Blog Posts, Wednesday: Email inbox and social media captions, Thursday: Community and Outreach, Friday: Finances and analytics, etc.) or if it fluctuates with different seasons (For example, this month will be focused all on the podcast and the next month will be all prepping for a launch, etc.) Whatever it is, you can decide what projects you are focusing on and when. While batch working may seem rigid, you can customize it to however works for your business. Some people like focusing by days, where I prefer to focus by “project”. However you decide, it will help you become more efficient, free up mental space, creates a feeling of being “ahead”, reduces stress, and allows you to think with strategy.

Batch Working for Efficiency

The main thing that batch working brings to your business is efficiency. When your plan is clear for the day, it is easy to show up, focus in for an hour or two, and get the job DONE. Instead of half-done, or 99% done, it sets the stage for focused work that is wildly efficient. With just a few hours of focused work, you can be DONE with one task and not have to think about it again.

Remember the stats from the beginning about multi-tasking? How it decreases productivity and increases errors? YUCK. I would much rather go on airplane mode, divide up my time wisely, and focus in and do it right once and for all.

Batch Working Creates Mental Clarity

Once it is done, BOOM, it can leave your mind. There’s no need to have a nagging thought in the back of your mind like “finish next week’s blog post” or “write an Instagram caption” because you know it’s done. When you free up that mental space, you are able to cut the white noise and look at the big picture (in both your business and your life). Instead of scrambling from one task to the next, you can look ahead with clarity at the upcoming weeks and introduce strategy, new ideas, and projects that pop into your mind (because you’re not sitting there wasting precious brain power thinking about what’s next on your urgent to-do list!)

THE DREADED FEELING OF ALWAYS BEING BEHIND

I’m sure many of you entrepreneurs have felt the feeling of being behind… but what if you could change that feeling to constantly being AHEAD?

It may seem crazy, but it IS possible. Having the ability to look at the month or the year, and know which projects are prioritized and when, what’s expected of you, and know that you have batched yourself ahead and the tedious tasks are already DONE… That’s how I want to feel in my business. I can’t even express how much this mental shift alone is worth its weight in gold. There is something so beautiful about having a handle on your work and feeling like YOU are running your business, it’s not running you.

HOW-TO Batch Work

Okay, so we have covered WHY batch working is crucial to grow your best business. Now, for the most important, the HOW of batch working. I totally get that this can be an intimidating process to start. Writing three blogs in one day? HOW?! But trust me, there are a few crucial steps to batching your work, and while it may feel odd at first, I promise if you stick with it you’ll be just as obsessed as I am!

STEP ONE: Identify your priorities!

Before you can batch, you have to decide what exactly you want to batch. To give a personal example, in my business I approach a few certain things with a batch mentality: recording podcasts, writing Instagram captions, building courses, and launch prep. While this list is relatively short, these are the things that move the needle in my business so they deserve priority.

These are things that I will set aside time for, plan for, and batch. They ARE the most important facets of my business, and batching them ensures that they get done (and that I don’t get distracted by less important facets of my business like emails, Facebook groups, Pinterest, and other extra add-ons that I can always tackle if I have time.)

My advice for you in choosing what exactly you want to batch is to look at what actually moves the bottom line in your business, narrow it down, and select 3 to 5 IMPACTFUL areas to focus, and then move onto the next step.

STEP TWO: Look at the “mini” tasks that go into a process

My next step is to then write a list of the 3 to 5 batch items you just decided above and then divide them into steps.

For example, batching podcast sounds simple, but it actually takes many steps to make that a reality. So in this example, I am batch working The Goal Digger podcast episodes, but the steps I have to accomplish to make this a reality are:

    • Brainstorm topics
    • Dream up guests that I want on
    • Narrow down show topics
    • Reach out and schedule with guests
    • Write questions for guest interviews
    • Write outlines for solo shows
    • Send recording logistics to guests
    • Record the show
    • Write show notes
    • Make appropriate graphics/links for guest to share

 

With this list, these are things you can batch in order to make your larger goal of “batching podcasts” a reality. For example, if Monday was dedicated to batching your podcasts, then one Monday you might have your batch day be dedicated be brainstorming topics and emailing guests, and then the next week your podcast day would be batching your show notes, and then next Monday would be making graphics and audio clips. This step is so important to create the framework of your batch days so you can have clear tasks that move you forward.

The main point here is that while you may be batching “big topics” like blog posts, courses, etc. you need to make sure you break up your batching into bite-size manageable pieces that ensure that all the “mini steps” get accomplished along the way.

STEP THREE: Make a schedule

Now it’s time to organize your batching. Take out a calendar, look at any important deadlines (launching courses, podcast episodes, etc.) and map out what you want your batching to look like.

I mentioned previously in this episode that some people like to dedicate certain workdays to one project, while others prefer to dedicate a month to one project and work wildly ahead. But whatever this looks like for you, grab a calendar and map it out. Schedule in a free day to work on other projects, take a vacation or off days, but whatever you decide, create your plan and stick to it.

Eventually, your batch schedule will feel so natural you might not even have to think about it, but when you’re beginning it can be very helpful to write out a clear plan for the week or month that outlines the focus of every day.

STEP FOUR: Focus in and get it done!

The most important step… Following through! I get it, making major changes to your workflow can be terrifying, but trust me on this one — commit to batch working for one month, and you’ll be hooked!

Every day, show up to work ready to accomplish your big task of the day. Trust in the process that you will be so thankful you worked ahead, and commit to SINGLE-TASKING. It’s time to abandon our multi-tasking ways and focus on doing one thing at a time and doing it well.

Step four is pretty straight forward: look at your tasks, look at your calendar, put your phone on airplane, and commit to it. This is where the batching magic happens, Goal Digger!

STEP FIVE: Enjoy your hard work and begin to look forward

Planning your work in advance allows you to be MEGA strategic when it comes to your business. If you have a launch in a month, you can subtly cater your captions, blogs, and content towards that topic for the weeks prior. If a new project launching soon, do a fun countdown. If there is a big announcement coming up, change your messaging to take your followers on a ride with you. While planning ahead seems daunting, it makes being strategic SO much easier because you have a clear map of what topic you should be focusing on and when. This doesn’t mean that spontaneity and new ideas go out the window, it just means that there is a time and place to implement strategy (and you’ll be ready!)

I also challenge you to ENJOY the benefits of batching your work. With the efficiency and working ahead, you will have more time to rest, to dream up new projects, and to enjoy the present. I challenge you to savor these newfound off days. You’ve earned it!

Have I convinced you on batching working yet, Goal Diggers? Good! Today, I am urging you to ditch the multi-tasking lifestyle and transition into batch working. You will not believe the efficiency, organization, and mental peace that will come along with it.

I can’t wait to hear how this episode hit home for you! Let’s create a batch working accountability session — what big projects are you planning to batch work?


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by Jenna Kutcher 

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  1. Wendi Knape

    December 14th, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    Hi Jenna,
    I listened to the podcast of the batching work episode this morning and recognized that I’ve done this process but it’s been sporadic. But when it’s happening I get in the zone.
    You’ve given me a view of how it will work for me. And because I’m an artist and jewelry artisan Planning my posts of product in batches for Instagram and other platforms makes perfect sense. Even making multiple jewelry pieces is easily adaptable to batch work. Thanks for the insight.

    Wendi Knape

  2. Kristen

    May 24th, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    So excited to try this process! My to do list is always a million miles long and I feel like I can’t focus. Definitely going to give this a try, thank you!

  3. How to Create a Content Calendar in Google Sheets – Glossy Type

    July 16th, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    […] familiar with batching? Basically, it means taking a bunch of similar tasks and completing them at one […]

  4. Maria M.

    August 7th, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    I just spent about 2 hours reading your show notes (after previously listening to the episode a few days ago), and slowly going through the steps as I read them to batch my own work. I have instinctively done this but you’re right, I need to do it A LOT more! There are days where I have mini panic moments and freeze because there’s so much to do. Organizing my work this way will definitely allow for more flow of energy and more tasks accomplished. Thanks for all you do and teach. (I’m not a millennial I still love it. I’m 47)
    Sending good vibes your way.

  5. Summer Guest Post: 5 Teacher Organization Hacks for Your Space - The Average Teacher Blog

    August 8th, 2019 at 10:01 am

    […] you haven’t heard of batch working, you need to listen to Jenna Kutcher’s podcast episode. She gives so many great tips and tricks, and even though she relates it to her business, we can […]

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    August 12th, 2019 at 8:03 pm

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    August 20th, 2019 at 10:00 am

    […] (ang) Podcast o grupowaniu zadań i pracy w blokach […]

  8. achieve essays

    September 10th, 2019 at 2:20 am

    It’s really very difficult to choose priorities. especially when you need to write completely opposite stories, for example. As a freelancer, I can’t decide what to start with: a personal narrative or an academic paper analysis. It’s frustrating at times, and whenever I have many tasks, I divide them into modules and then take 2-3 of those at a time.

  9. Jenna Kutcher

    November 19th, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    Yes! It’s all about breaking it down.

  10. sian

    October 3rd, 2019 at 7:10 am

    I wondered if you could help me? I am just planning the launch of my blog as I am on maternity leave. What are the ‘Steps’ I would need to think of to batch create my blog posts please? The way you described in Step Two.
    Thank you in advance for your help

  11. Jenna Kutcher

    November 19th, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Sian! Start by thinking of all the small steps it takes to create and publish a blog post. It’s different for every business!

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    October 10th, 2019 at 2:51 am

    […] basis – is the usage of email templates for common communications (with a close second being batch working). Let me save you some time on sharing a revelation with you:  load the email templates up as […]

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    October 14th, 2019 at 1:55 pm

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    November 14th, 2019 at 8:37 pm

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    […] Read all about batch working here […]

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