Lately I hear a lot of endorsement for batching our daily work, meaning to collect a group of identical or similar activities and do them all at the same time.
The claim is that
– batching decreases procrastination (I’d love it),
– increases our creativity (I can’t wait),
– decreases distraction and boosts productivity (hurray!),
– saves us time (don’t we all want that),
– and cuts down stress (oh yes please!).
So you think batching it is and you start batch writing your blog posts, batch creating your Facebook posts, batch your tweets, batch reading and answering your emails, batch your phone calls, and the list goes on.
How is it working for you? Is batching your work really THE productivity tool par excellence? I have a reversed point of view, here is what I think:
“Batching can result in procrastination”
For example, when you despise to do something, it could sound very appetizing to batch it. You might think, by batching it, I only have to deal with it once in a while, and I can forget about it in between.
“Batching can kill creativity”
But while you are in the middle of your creative work, while you do what you love to do, something weird happens and a thought sneaks into your awareness. You are reminded of that despised task you have coming up. Your mood swings from green to grey, from motivated to blah, you spend the next little while thinking of that task, you loose your train of thought and your momentum in your creative work. Sound familiar?
“Batching can increase distractions”
This is now a very critical moment where you have to stay strong and sail around the sirens that lure you into distractions such as social media and checking emails or try to shipwreck your focus by convincing you to reward yourself with some cat and dog videos on Youtube (btw, here is my favorite dog & horse video).
“Batching can cost your productivity”
Fighting off the sirens while you chase after your creativity that is lost in the maze of distracting thoughts, your productivity sneaks out the window.
“Batching can cost you valuable time”
It will cost you quite some effort and valuable time to get back into the swing of things. Before you know it… Time for lunch, your scheduled meeting or the next task on your to-do list.
“Batching can be a robber of sleep”
After a few of these cycles this task is seriously bothering you, and might even rob you of your sleep which in turn increases your stress level substantially.
So let’s say you are dealing with your paperwork and decide to batch this task but soon it all turns sour.
- Papers clutter up your desk, your dining room table, your kitchen counter or are scattered around your house !
- The piles get higher and the chaos becomes bigger
- You plan in time to deal with it but you are not motivated today, you tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow !
- Invoices go missing and stay unpaid
- subscriptions expire and are not renewed
- You can’t find anything when you need it
- You feel stressed and annoyed
Yes?! Sound familiar?
What went wrong? Are all these experts wrong, when they say “batching” is THE way to go?
Not necessarily but you have to make sure you do the batching the right way and for the right reasons. Batching needs structures and a system, and the tasks need to stay at a manageable size so youi don’t get overwhelmed and start to procrastinate.
When you think batching your work is a great idea,
make sure it is not an excuse for you to procrastinate.
In dealing with paperwork here is a quick tip :
Put a simple system in place that helps you tame the paper monster.
Such a system could be as simple as
- always putting all incoming papers in one place right away.
- Then twice a week you set a timer for 15-20 minutes and you go through the papers and deal with them (batching).
You will be surprised what you can do in such a short time. Because this Paper Inbox is not overflowing, it does not seem like such a daunting task and you are less prone to procrastinate on it. Doesn’t 15-20 minutes twice a week sound like a good deal, especially when you consider, that in return you feel in control, have an overview and you’ll gain your creativity and productivity back?
If you have old piles of paperwork that need to be dealt with, set the timer for 15-20 minutes on two other days and start tackling that pile. Don’t overdo it, don’t go longer than 15-20 minutes or you wear yourself out and start procrastinating again.
Send me an email or leave a comment below and tell me about your biggest challenges with dealing with paperwork.