Are you familiar with shiny object syndrome?
You know, when you’re diligently working on the task at hand, then something else, something usually way less important – look, a butterfly! – catches your attention, and off you go, tripping into a more interesting field of daisies, from where you may not return for several hours.
It was happening to me, way more than is good.
So in order to wrestle that little problem to the ground so I can get the work done, while still allowing for random dreaminess, funny cat videos, and other flights of fancy, I recommitted to a productivity technique that I used to use back in my PR days.
Recently this technique has helped me get a killer amount of writing, marketing and other business-building work done on my business, all while still putting in 40 hours per week on client projects in my business, and still leaving me time to do the fun stuff. (See above, re: cat videos.)
That productivity technique is called batch processing.
What is batch processing?
Batch processing is simply a form of time management where you dedicate blocks of time to similar tasks.
For example, you sit down and write your next 4 blog posts all at once, or your email newsletters for the next 6 weeks, etc. Or maybe you create all your social media updates for the next month one sitting.
Almost any kind of repeatable tasks in your business can be batched.
Batching is great because it decreases distraction and increases productivity. Your creativity expands, your mental sharpness increases, and stress and procrastination are reduced.
When I batch process my business tasks, I get far more done than when I spend an hour here or an hour there over the course of a week trying to knock out my to-do list. Batching makes me feel calm, happy, relaxed and unstoppable. How good does that sound?
For example, my email updates/newsletters go out each Tuesday. I got tired of writing each one on Monday afternoon, when Mondays are actually one of my busiest days for client work, creating a lot of stress for me. Not good.
The simple solution? Batching. Now I write 4 newsletters at once and load them into my email delivery software right afterwards; they then go out automatically each week for the next 4 weeks. So that’s 4 weeks of newsletters, scheduling included, knocked out in one sitting – aahhh, much better. Now I don’t have to write another newsletter for 4 weeks, yet my list is still receiving one every Tuesday, like clockwork.
Other tasks I batch process:
Writing blog posts: I generally spend two-three days per month writing blog posts, days I set aside exclusively for writing. I get up early, I make the coffee, then write, write, write. At the end of the day I have 3-4 complete blog posts, and about that many more started, outlined, and keyword-researched. (You may be a much faster writer than I am and get twice as many blog posts written in the same amount of time. As for me, belaboring every comma, semi-colon and em dash takes a lot of time.)
Creating social media status updates: Yes, I batch process this niggling old task too. I set aside an hour or so a couple times a week to go to my favorite blogs and websites and read through a bunch of content. I grab the links to the best articles, write teaser copy for each one, then save the content into a Notepad doc for scheduling into Hootsuite later. (Right now my Notepad doc has enough high-value content to post out 5 updates a day, for the next 5 days. That’s 25 articles, with links and teaser copy, all ready to go for next week, so I don’t have to come up with content on the fly. What a relief.)
Commenting on blogs and in forums. I comment on blogs throughout the week as new posts on my favorite sites go live, and set aside an hour or so near the end of the week to check out anything I’ve missed that I think I can add a high-quality, valuable comment to. With forums, I generally visit my favorites once or twice a week, spending an hour, or even two, answering any questions I can genuinely help someone with.
As I’m writing this, it’s Saturday at 4:59 pm, and I’ve been sitting in front of my computer since 7:00 am this morning, knocking out content creation and other business-building tasks left and right. Now I can knock off for the day to go meet my friends for dinner and adult beverages with a clear conscience.
Then throughout the week I’ll happily go about getting my client work done daily, while still getting my business-building and marketing tasks taken care of in an hour or two per day. too This way everything gets done in a schedule I can manage, I’m happier and less stressed, and I have time to focus on larger projects that will move my business forward in bigger leaps.
To be clear, you don’t have to devote an entire day to batch processing – you can actually get a lot done in short one-two hours boosts of activity too – but devoting one day per month to the process will put you way ahead of the game. The key is to give all your attention and focus to the task you’re working on for the one or two or four hours you set aside for it, not letting the pretty butterflies or funny cat videos lead you down the garden path.
If you’ve never tried batch processing, I highly recommend it; it’s worked wonders for me.
Do you have tips on how to increase productivity? Please share them in the comments!
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