Time batching is a system that helps improve focus and reduce distractions. As a project manager, you may feel like you’re constantly juggling multiple balls or are stretched thin across too many tasks and projects. Time batching, also sometimes called task batching, can help you minimize interruptions and reduce multitasking to improve your productivity.
In this article, we’ll discuss how time batching works, why it helps boost productivity, and how to implement it so that it positively impacts your time and your overall project performance.
What is time batching?
Time batching is a time management technique that helps you focus on a group of similar tasks during a given period. It’s often called task batching because the first step of this technique requires the grouping or batching together of similar tasks. You then plan your schedule around these batches so that you’re only working on one batch at a time.
For example, as a project manager, you may batch out a portion of your workday to answer emails, another part to review team status reports, and another to create and share progress with stakeholders.
You may have also heard of timebox, which is a similar approach to time management, where tasks are allocated a certain number of hours or days to be completed.
Why does time batching affect productivity?
Studies have shown that multitasking hurts productivity. Jumping back and forth between tasks can reduce efficiency, lower product quality, and make you feel drained — all of which lower productivity.
By batching tasks, you combat your natural tendency to multitask and directly improve your productivity.
For instance, on average, professionals check their emails 15 times per day. Research also shows that it can take over 23 minutes to fully recover your focus after an interruption — such as a break to check email. This can mean that if you continually check your email throughout the day and respond to messages as they come in, you’re wasting time and losing focus.
However, with time batching, you can block out specific times to check and respond to emails. By cutting down on constant distractions and task switching, you can make your workday more efficient and productive.
Time batching can also help minimize interruptions. If people know you tackle certain tasks at set times, they’re less likely to come looking for answers outside of those windows. For example, if your team knows you only answer emails from 9:00–10:00 a.m. and 3:00–4:00 p.m., they're less likely to drop by at lunch and ask if you’ve seen their email yet.
How to time batch effectively
Here are seven time batching productivity tips:
- Create a process for grouping tasks. You can group together tasks in whichever way seems most efficient to you. It may be by task type, priority, desired outcome, participants involved, etc. You may need to experiment with different methods to see which one is most efficient.
- Label tasks for ease of grouping. If you use project management software, you can use a custom field or color code tasks to make them easy to batch. This will enable you to quickly identify what work to tackle in each time window in your calendar.
- Have a consistent schedule. You’ll find you’re more efficient if you tackle the same batch of tasks at the same time each day. You may need to make exceptions due to last-minute meetings and other requirements, but try to be as consistent as possible.
- Create a visual view of your time batching. It can be helpful for you and others to see how your workday and week are batched. Creating a calendar view of your weekly schedule and sharing it with your stakeholders can reduce interruptions and improve productivity.
- Use a time tracking app. Even though you have time blocked out for one task or set of tasks, you may still be tempted to jump around to other work or distractions. By using an employee project time tracking app to track how long work takes you, you’ll feel more pressure to focus on the matter at hand.
- Reduce distractions. Whether it’s blocking social media sites, putting your phone on silent, or shutting your office door, any actions that help reduce distractions can help boost your productivity.
- Adjust as you go. You’ll discover that there are some tasks that you can efficiently focus on for two hours at a time, while with others, you need a break every 25 minutes. You don’t have to batch every task in your schedule or set every batch period at one to two hours. Experiment with your calendar until you find the most efficient process for you.
Why Wrike can help with time batching
Wrike project management software can help you create, label, track, and group your tasks. Color-code work, create a calendar of your schedule, and share it with your team, clients, and other stakeholders. Sign up for a free two-week trial and discover how time batching with Wrike helps improve your productivity and project performance.