Why Super-Productive People Use ‘Batching’ To Optimize Their Focus & Productivity

 No matter how much you focus on the most important tasks and prioritize the essentials, there’s always going to be low-value, routine tasks waiting on your to-do list.

Things like email, phone calls, administrative work, responding to messages, or managing social media accounts (for business) are often not nearly as important as your most valuable tasks, but you can’t simply neglect them.

The key, however, is to make sure these types of tasks never take your focus away from your most valuable tasks — the tasks that contribute to the most profit, impact, and growth.

As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”

How Low-Value Tasks Kill Your Productivity

The problem usually is that, while working on the most valuable tasks, most people keep their email tab open and leave notifications of their phone on. Whenever a new email arrives, or an instant message comes in, our brain craves to check out what it is. The pull for a new dopamine hit is simply too strong to ignore.

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Once the email or message has been opened, it creates an open loop in our brain that desperately wants to be closed. If we try to return to our original task without answering the incoming message or email (aka, close the loop), it drives our brain somewhat crazy. Whenever we open a new loop, our brain wants to close it as soon as possible to free up mental resources. This is called the ‘Zeigarnik Effect.’

The psychological drive to quickly deal with the new email or message is often too strong to resist. Before you know it, you find yourself stuck in a cycle of answering emails and responding to messages, and you don’t have the time or focus left to work on your most valuable tasks.

To ensure that we tackle these relatively low-value tasks in such a way that they don’t disrupt our flow, focus, and energy from the tasks that truly matter, we can try the ‘batching’ technique.

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With the batching technique, you essentially lump a few similar tasks together and tackle them all in one efficient go instead of scattering them throughout your day. This way, low-value tasks won’t distract you anymore, and you protect your time and focus on the most valuable tasks.

On top of that, you can tackle tasks like email, phone calls, or responding to instant messages all in one highly efficient flow. It’s a win-win for your productivity.

Batching Is Just Like Doing The Laundry…

You can compare the batching technique to doing your laundry. You wouldn’t do your laundry each time you have a new pair of dirty socks. Instead, over the period of a few days, you collect your dirty laundry and ‘batch’ it all in one go. This way, you don’t have to do your laundry multiple times per day — which would be crazy.

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Yet, this is what most of us do with routine and low-value tasks such as email, answering messages, administrative work, or making phone calls. We scatter these tasks randomly throughout our day, which distracts us from completing the mission-critical tasks that make a real impact. We, metaphorically, do our laundry multiple times per day.

Instead, schedule fixed batching moments in which you tackle similar types of tasks. For example, you might schedule a block of 30 minutes to go through all of the emails of the day instead of keeping the email tab open and replying randomly throughout your day.

You might schedule a block of 15 minutes to respond to all of the instant messages you received instead of replying to them scattered throughout the day.

And, you might schedule a block of 30 minutes to make all kinds of phone calls so you can stay in one flow. This way, you protect your time and focus for the most valuable tasks — which should always be the main priority of your day.

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In most cases, when we don’t make a plan for tackling low-value, routine tasks, they end up distracting us from the work we’re supposed to be doing — work that makes a real impact. Batching is a simple but highly effective solution that both help you prioritize the most valuable tasks and tackle low-value, routine tasks in an efficient way.

Scheduling Multiple Batching Moments

Sometimes, your job requires you to respond to email (or make phone calls) more than just once per day. In that case, simply schedule more batching moments in your day.

For example, you could schedule one batching session of 15 minutes in the morning, one in the early afternoon, and one at the end of the workday. This is still a much more focused and efficient way of tackling low-value tasks compared to scattering it randomly throughout the day.

Personally, I schedule batching moments in the afternoon, when I’ve already finished my most valuable tasks. I make it a priority to protect my peak productivity time — the morning — for my most valuable tasks. That’s when I have the best focus, the most brain-power, and get the most things done.

Now Do It

Change only comes from taking action. Therefore, I highly recommend you try out batching and experience the benefits yourself. Schedule a few moments in your day in which you tackle low-value, routine tasks in one highly efficient go.

Tasks that are often batched are email, phone calls, administrative work, replying to instant messages, and managing business social media accounts.

To Your Personal Growth,

Jari Roomer

Founder Personal Growth Lab

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