Archives for December 2012

How to Increase Small Business Productivity, Creativity, and Sanity with Batch Processing

Batch Processing for Business Productivity

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! 

 [Hey there, gorgeous. Want more actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your small business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Sign up for my FREE weekly newsletter by entering your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]


To the Family Hogging the Aisle in the Biography Section of the ILM Barnes & Noble Last Night

pet peeves



Was there no other place your entire family of seven could congregate?

There I was in “New Biography,” quietly surveying the selection of recently released tomes, when you all decided to have a family gathering/literature discussion in “Biography,” right behind me.

As much as the former English major in me enjoyed your amusing and thoughtful discussion on the merits of the biography of so-and-so, the sane person who appreciates her personal space felt a tad crowded by your teenage progeny hovering 6 inches from my right ear weighing the ins and outs of your family’s gift list.

Now, I realize that makes me sound like a snob, and I don’t doubt each one of you possesses intelligence vastly superior to mine.


There were other people in the store also interested in access to the Biography aisle – I know this because when I looked up from the book I had my nose buried in, I saw them peer hopefully into the aisle trying to gauge the best route in, then abandon the idea because it would’ve been next to impossible to navigate your family’s  literature pow-wow.

You know, your decision to camp there for half an hour probably turned away some sales.  As hard as book stores have it in this day and age of the Nook, the Kindle, and any other reading device that may someday be invented, this is a real shame.

This habit of people treating public spaces as their home turf, while remaining oblivious to pretty much anyone else near, around, or next to them has always been one of my biggest pet peeves.   I’m willing to consider that I may need therapy and/or meds to combat this problem, as there’s no getting around the fact that it happens whenever you enter a public space of any kind, and getting bent out of shape about it regularly is really not very good for my mental health.  At the very least, I may need to sedate myself before venturing into Barnes & Noble anytime soon, or at least until the holiday shopping season is officially over.

Funny, not 20 minutes after the Barnes & Noble “incident,” I went to Target, where there was a guy in the cereal aisle with his enormous shopping cart clogging up half the aisle, while his wide stance in front of the fortified bran section took up the other half.  Even when I edged close to him to reach for a box of Special K just ever so slightly beyond where he was standing, he did not move.


What’s a girl to do?

I hear there are places on the interwebz you can order books and supplies online.  It’s called Amazon, maybe you’ve heard of it.  Maybe I’ll check that out next time I want to do some hassle free book shopping.  Especially since I can shop in my pajamas, all while enjoying an adult beverage.  Hmm, very civilized.