Task batching is the method of grouping similar tasks together and processing them all at once, rather than intermittently or miscellaneously throughout a day.
Every activity has a set-up cost, from checking emails to compiling feedback to reviewing designs to writing insights etc.
Tim Ferriss, who is one of the earliest champions of Batching, explains: it's easiest to see the relevance of batching through two of the most common tasks that most of us, if not all of us, already batch—and they are the laundry and the post office. When it comes to these two tasks, we wouldn't welcome the idea of doing our laundry on a daily basis, nor would we visit the post office on a daily basis. Instead, we would wait for our dirty laundry and postcards to accumulate before doing our laundry or going to the post office.
We batch our laundry, and our post office visits simply because it's more effective and efficient to do so. To do the laundry or mail our postcards, we need to set aside time, labour and resources, known as the set-up costs. It takes roughly the same amount of time, labour and resources to do one day's worth of clothes and one week's worth of clothes or mail one postcard and ten postcards. Through batching, we can minimize the set-up costs that would otherwise amount to 10-fold.
Likewise, multitaskings come with a Switching Cost. It takes a great deal of mental effort to switch from one task to another task. This mental effort translates into a compromise in time and quality. Therefore, it's unsurprising that experiments show it's more effective and efficient to complete one task before starting another task, rather than switching back and forth between the two until the finish line.
This is why production or assembly lines at factories are set up the way that they are. With one person responsible for one task, switching costs can be reduced while speed and accuracy can be optimized.
At Mäd, we always strive to empower our team members and clients on evidence-based productivity tips and tricks. We recognize the merits of Deep Work and the likes and even have our own dedicated Deep Work room at our office.
We have effectively employed batching into our work culture that guides how we approach client feedback and revisions. For instance, our web projects are commonly split into 3 or 4 batches depending on the project's scope. The 1st batch is determined by the most complex pages and features that often directly imply our client's business objectives or user experience. This allows us to address, clarify and untangle any questionable aspects early on in our process and streamline the rest of the batches.
With any feedback that we receive from our clients, we allocate time to address all the feedback at once and proceed to revisions once everyone is on the same page. While we can sympathize with our client's desire for immediate revisions, batching works in favour for both our teams and theirs in ensuring speed and accuracy.
With that said, there is no one way to batch tasks. It works best when personalized to fit each individual needs. It can be used in conjunction with The Pomodoro Technique—a time blocking technique that guarantees 25 minutes of uninterrupted work, followed by a 5-minute break and repeat as many times as needed to complete a task. Additionally, the notion of Batching is integral to Deep Work; thus, one can also employ the Deep Work Scheduling Philosophy: Monastic, Bimodal, Rhythmic or Journalistic (from strict to lenient consecutively), adapting it to one's needs.
We can't talk about effective productivity without mentioning Bloo—our favorite project management tool. Bloo is our primary communication channel for all our projects, both internally with our teams and externally with our clients. Its kanban board layout enables us to focus on tasks that are 'In Progress' all the while keeping on track with any imminent deadlines.
Bloo makes batching smooth sailing and allows for a cultivation and an appreciation of deep work culture here at Mäd.
In today's fast-paced world equipped with the internet, social media, and electronic devices, it's not possible to completely evade multitaskings or distractions. Certain roles will also demand more multitaskings than others. What's worse is these technologies are designed to give the user a false impression that productivity is being undertaken. However, there is a drastic difference between being busy and being productive.
By employing Batching and Pomodoro tactics, we can begin to free ourselves from empty productivity and instead experience true productivity.