For small business owners, it seems like there is never enough time to get everything accomplished. One tool that will help you get the most out of your time is time batching, also called time blocking. If you haven’t heard of this before, it can revolutionize the way you approach work.
What Is Time Batching?
Time batching is where you group like tasks together on your calendar to gain economies of scale. Almost everything can be batched: answering emails, running errands, customer calls or appointments, employees’ questions, and even meetings.
Here are a couple of examples. Instead of running to the office supply on Tuesday, going to the printer on Thursday, and visiting the warehouse on Friday, why not do it all on Wednesday in one trip? Instead of answering emails throughout the day, plan to answer them for 30 minutes at 8AM, 1PM, and 4:30PM. Instead of having appointments scattered throughout the week, make them back-to-back on Monday.
The beauty to time batching is that your brain will be less exhausted at the end of the day. The reason is interruptions are minimized, as are switching costs. Switching cost is the time it takes your brain to switch from one task to the next. Too much switching strains the brain by making it change gears frequently. Time batching helps your brain get into and stay in “flow,” with more work accomplished in less overall time.
Business and Personal
You don’t have to restrict time batching to your work life. It’s likely you are already practicing time batching at home and don’t know it. When you prepare the week’s meals on Sunday or wash several loads of laundry in a row, you are practicing a form of time batching.
While some things can’t be batched, like walking the dog, many more can. You just need to be open to the possibilities.
The Highest Payoff
The highest payoff with time batching comes when you can reduce the interruptions that happen to you the most. For example, when an employee has a question, could they write them down during the day and approach you at the end of the day with all of them at once?
Emails and texts are constant interruptions for many. The first thing to do is turn off your email and text notifications so that you’re not interrupted every time one comes in. Then, decide how often during the day you want to check for new items. Aim for three or fewer times if your job allows it.
Phone calls can be another interruption. When possible, encourage callers to schedule a time to call you or let them know how much more efficient email is.
Getting It All Done
Time batching is something that you can practice for years and still get better at. Try implementing one piece of time batching at a time to avoid overwhelming yourself with change. Look intentionally for more items to batch every few months, no matter how long you’ve been practicing.
Time batching will not only help you get home sooner to your personal life; you’ll also be less drained and more energized at the end of the day. Try it and see what you think.