Feeling distracted lately? We can relate. A time management hack known as “time batching” is trending, and for good reason. Time batching is a simple way to curb distraction and procrastination by grouping small, similar tasks and doing them together. The method isn’t new, but it’s proving to be an especially helpful strategy for people trying to stay productive while working from home.
Ultra-Productivity in the “Flow State”
When working to complete a to-do list, it’s tempting to bounce between various tasks, ignoring some, partially completing others, and getting them done as you have time. We think of this as “multitasking,” but there’s a problem with it. The American Psychological Association reports that “even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.” This wasted time delays the things you want to get done and leaves you feeling anxious, stressed, and like you haven’t accomplished much.
The principle of time batching is to do the opposite of multitasking. It’s about focusing on similar tasks during a timed, uninterrupted period. Doing this, you’re able to reach your “flow state,” a feeling of ultra-productivity and doing your best work (you might call it being “in the zone”). Among other changes that occur when you reach your flow state, your brain’s anatomical functions change. The beta wave activity is lessened and alpha wave activity heightens, shifting from hyper-activity to hypo-activity, which results in greater focus and concentration.
Many people experience less stress during this state of mind. They recognize tasks are manageable, and their sense of time is lessened, which helps to improve concentration. If you’d like to work smarter instead of harder, try these three basic steps to start time batching:
Group Similar, Small Tasks Together
Decide on larger task groupings that your small tasks fit into. There aren’t rules, but try to keep significantly similar tasks together. Here are examples of common task groups:
- Reading and replying to emails
- Household chores
- Financial and administrative tasks
Follow a Schedule
Traditional time batching methods use 25-minute periods, each followed by a five-minute break. This timeframe can be adjusted slightly based on the nature of your work, but 25 minutes is the sweet spot for getting quality work done without exhausting yourself. If you know one task group will take an hour, you can break it into two 25-minute periods with a break between.
After four consecutive 25-minute periods, plan a 15-30 minute break. This might be a good time for a MYX workout to rev up your energy.
Avoid Distracting Temptations
Try not to reach for your phone or turn on the TV as soon as your time is up. Distractions can quickly derail your focus. Use the break as restorative downtime.
If you have tips on how you’re staying productive, we hope you’ll share them with us on social media.