Grouping similar tasks will help your post-pandemic productivity.
Look at us!
Out here trying to act like we remember how to go to work and school and do Life! Aren’t we all grown-up and having fun!
Well, maybe not. Getting back to the grind is proving to be tricky. There were a lot of systems I used before to keep my business running and now there are fewer people on staff to keep the systems in place. Also, in the past year I got pretty cozy with lowered productivity expectations for each day. You may be feeling something similar and thinking, “How did we accomplish everything back in the Before Times?” or maybe you never did; maybe you never felt very successful at accomplishing things. Either way, I think we’d all like to get through our responsibilities without feeling like a grumpy stress-biscuit! I’ve decided to pull out an old stand-by trick to help myself get used to working and adulting again.
Batch projects by the day of the week
This method –often called batching– will help you be (and feel) more productive without feeling confused or overworked. We all have a variety of things to accomplish in our lives, and the more stressed we are, the less likely we will remember all of them. Batching is a great way to reduce the mental strain of juggling different projects. It also helps you stay more present from moment to moment, which makes us happier and also produce higher quality work. Win, win, and win! Click To Tweet
Batching is not just for cookies
Batching is secret, productivity language for grouping similar tasks to be done during a specific chunk of time. When following this system, if a task comes up that has to do with a different group of tasks meant for another day of the week, it has to wait.
Here are some example categories:
- Money Mondays — Balance budget, pay bills, check bank statements and online accounts, pay off credit cards, run payroll, check portfolio, etc. Any financial responsibilities get handled on Money Monday. I put this first distressing category first in my week because I like to get it over with!
- Errand Tuesdays — This is the day to run around. Get groceries, dry cleaning, library returns, Target, etc. Stores are least crowded on Tuesdays (at least until everyone reads this amazing article!)
- Well-being Wednesdays — Call to schedule appointments for you, your pets, and your kids. Try to schedule them on Wednesdays, too, if possible. Go to the dentist, go to therapy, get a manicure. Reconcile health insurance statements. (ugh!) All regular body and mind maintenance on well-being Wednesdays.
- Together Thursdays — Schedule social visits, call your friends, check your social media page, and basically fill your friend cup. Write birthday cards, thank you cards, read that thing your friend wrote.
- Free day Fridays — I call this a free-day but it’s only free if you did all the other 4 days. If not, Friday is your day to catch up on the one you missed.
Other options without alliterative titles:
- Volunteer work — This includes chores relating to being the room parent or team parent for kids sports and school.
- A creative hobby — whether you want to turn it into a side hustle, or you do it for fun to keep sane.
- Other temporary work assignments — Maybe you are the executor of an estate, filling an interim position, interviewing candidates for employment. Assigning those extra responsibilities to one (or two) set periods of time will prevent them from taking over your whole day or week!
How to remember all of the things
When random things inevitably pop up and it’s not the day to do them, how do you remember them for later? You use lists! Specifically you keep a labeled list for each category in your notes app, or in a paper notebook which you currently use. (I don’t recommend starting a new notebook habit. It’s one more thing to remember!)
For some categories, like Money Monday (Did I mention that I hate it!), the list is the same every time. For others, it is always changing. It’s still helpful to have a list to make sure I don’t forget anything. Everyone gets distracted! Lists get you back on track faster.
Why batching is a game-changer
Purposely performing similar tasks together increases your chances of finding a flow and a focus. Yes, thoughts come up all the time, but now, you can either do them (if it’s the day to do them) or add them to a list. Then put them out of your mind completely.
Similar strategy for goofing off
My smart friend told me about her self-imposed boundary around social media. She only looks at two sites, and those only on Saturday evenings. That way it feels like a treat –like watching a movie on the weekend used to feel. And she doesn’t find herself lost on the internet for long periods of time during the week. I told you she’s smart!
Steps to start day batching:
- Decide what is important to you. You might brainstorm all of the projects you want to work on. Then circle the top few.
- Decide how much time and which part of your day to designate for working on your tasks. Maybe it’s the early morning, your lunch break, right after work, or late at night. I highly recommend that you leave one day as a catch-all, and I also recommend putting your task block at a similar time everyday. I use ninety minutes each morning but often don’t need the whole block.
- Mark these times off as recurring events on your phone’s calendar. If it’s appropriate, let people involved know which days you’ll be focusing on the project they are involved in. I use an actual timer set for twenty minutes when working on tasks I don’t like. That way I know it will definitely be over in twenty minutes! What I don’t finish will keep until next week. The ticking sound of a timer also keeps me honest, like an accountability partner.
- Refer to your task lists every day. This will become a habit after a few weeks. You will forget, sure. And it’s important to get back on the horse if you fall off one day or even fall off for an entire week. Please don’t beat yourself up!
This system works. And if you are reading this I’m guessing you are interested in increasing your productivity. You are at the very least interested in not feeling so stressed and confused while trying to be a contributing member of society again. Grouping your chores is worth trying.
Please let me know what you are hoping to try and how it goes!
Thanks for reading. Sincerely,