David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, discusses the importance of assigning “contexts” to items in your task list. Batching and contexts describe where or when you should be completing a specific task, i.e. on the phone, at the computer, running errands, etc.
Adding a context to your next actions can help organize your project workflow and make your working time more productive.
I use “batching” to achieve more than I ever could trying to complete tasks individually. Just this weekend I “batched” making my breakfasts for the month. You read that right…an entire month.
So what did I do?
Last month I bought pre-made packs of frozen produce to make smoothies. They contained the usual dark greens and berries. But it was nearly two dollars per smoothie. A little outrageous for my taste (pun intended).
This month, my wife and I planned a trip to Costco to buy all our produce so we could make our own ready-to-go smoothie packs. For $54 we were able to get all the greens we wanted, berries, bananas, pineapples, and more.
Once we got home it was time to work. I laid out the bags to make our first batch (berry). Filled the bags with greens, frozen berries, nuts, and seeds. Here’s what the first batch looked like:
Then it was time for Round 2. Tropical.
For this batch, I enlisted the help of my boys. They helped me peel five bunches of bananas in less than five minutes. Needless to say, a few bananas were eaten in the process.
Altogether, 48 ready-to-go smoothie pouches were ready in just over an hour. My average cost per breakfast was $1.13 and about an hour of time. When I do the math, I made just over $40/hour and got to spend some quality time with my kids. Not only that…but I have a little more variety and nutrition than I’d get from the pre-made packs.
A photo posted by Robby Miles (@robbymiles) on Feb 27, 2016 at 6:24pm PST
Batching or grouping similar tasks doesn’t just help with meal prep. It helps me focus on a single type of task during a given time period.
I make all my phone calls at one time.
I read and reply to all my emails at one time. I can run all my errands at the same time. You get the point. I just feel so much more productive when I am checking next actions
I run all my errands at the same time. You get the point. I just feel so much more productive when I am checking next actions.
Multi-tasking is easy enough, but multi-focusing is impossible.
You get the point. I just feel so much more productive when I am checking next actions off my list. It prevents me from having to constantly switch brain modes to complete simple tasks. And my task manager Nozbe makes it super simple to batch all my tasks. More on that Friday.
I challenge you to choose one area of your life and batch those projects for the next week. Let me know how it goes in the comments.