So many times I hear I need to ‘batch’ my work in order to get on top of my never-ending to-do list. Emails, social media, blog posts etc. All these jobs that require regular production, maintanence and checkpoints can really take it out of an already busy business owner.
“How am I supposed to write weekly blog posts, weekly emails, daily social media posts as well as monitor my accounts, update my website, plan my marketing on top of actually, you know, doing what earns me the money.”
For anyone who has not yet come across the term ‘batching’, it means creating a system in which you do mass amounts of the same work and effectively bank up your content to free up time in the future. And because you’re already doing the work, it’s quicker to do 10 lots of the same piece of work in the same time chunk, than it is to repeat the same task weekly.
As an example, it’s easier and quicker to produce 10 blog posts in one week, than it is to produce a weekly blog post each week for 10 weeks. You’ve already got everything open, you’re already in ‘the zone’, everything just runs quicker and your brain is engaged with that task in a major way, so you can move through some serious work in one chunk of time.
So I get it, batch working, works – in fact it works really well. But how far ahead should you batch? And how often should you do it? And what should you batch?! The problem is everyone has got their own idea of how to batch effectively and I’ve tried many different ways myself.
I’ve tried batching my days (terrible, I barely got anything ‘batched’ and barely got through my workload), batching my weeks (I got round to my ‘batching tasks’ by Thursday, so…. not great) and batching whole months (so far, this one seems to be working pretty well for me).
The reason so many people struggle with batching is they’re trying to force other peoples ideal working pattern into their own. It just won’t work, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll get frustrated and give up. The key is to find a pattern that works for your working style.
So I’m just dropping in with the 6 easy steps I took to define my own working pattern. So rather than just share my working rhythm – which may not fit your style, you can create your own structure to help avoid the overwhelm, get ahead of your business and finally get on top of the to-do list. In a way that suits you, not someone else.
Oh and this system will help you not only ‘batch’ your content, but also fit in other regular jobs for your business, leaving your head clear to concentrate on one task at a time.
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6 Tips To Your Ideal Batch Working Style
1: Get clear on what your regular jobs are
Write down every single thing you can think off that you do regularly for your business. From your accounts, to social media planning. Basically, anything that you do more than once for your business; write it down. Take some time with this, and look back over the last few months to get an exhaustive list.
Some things that would be on my list, for instance would be:
Creating stock photography collections
Creating other regular member content
Writing blog posts
Social media scheduling
Emailing my mailing list
Website updates and maintanence
Metrics & analytics audits
2: Organise into ‘frequency categories’
Organise those jobs into how often they’ll need doing. For instance, you may decide you want to do your accounts, metrics and business KPI’s once a month, so stick those two items under your monthly category. Maybe you’ll have a daily category for checking emails & social media engagement. Quarterly for product creation, scheduling emails & social media posts, etc.
A few examples from my own working pattern would be:
Metrics & analytics – once a month
Producing stock collections – once every three months
Scheduling Instagram – once a week
Goal setting – once a year
Reviewing goals – once every three months
Refreshing the website – once every three months
Maintaining updates & security on website – once a week
3: Assess how long each job will take
This depends on how often you want to do it. So if you want to batch all your emails in one quarterly task, you may need a full week to create 12 weeks of emails. Don’t forget you’ll have other jobs to do such as client work or ad-hoc tasks and meetings as well as business growth tasks and strategies. So make sure you ‘over-allow’ how long each job will take to do to account for this. And everything takes longer than you think.
Some examples for myself:
I take a full month to create 3 months of stock collections
(obviously I am doing other things as well in this month such as my weekly jobs, ad hoc jobs etc, but this gives me one main focus for the full month, so I can get in the creative zone and produce higher quality collections in a shorter, more concentrated burst of time.)
I need a week to put together 3 months of blog posts
Collecting my metrics & analytics takes maybe 2 hours
My monthly accounts takes about an hour
4: Ask yourself – is this realistic?
Now look at the jobs you’ve set yourself and ask yourself realistically; is that enough time to complete the amount of work you’d need.
For instance, if you’ve said once a quarter, you’ll spend a week doing all your emails for the next quarter; that’s 12 emails (at one email per week). Is that easy to do in a week for you? Could you knock that out in a day? Maybe you know you’re a slow worker (like me) or your business model requires you to have more free time in your schedule, so you allow two weeks a quarter to get this done instead.
A guide to answering the question above is to answer this one:
Are you the kind of person that can turn the world off, lock in on a task and not move on until you’ve done it?
Or do you tend to procrastinate, check emails, do the laundry and somehow lose the day to ‘busy’ jobs? (yeah, I’m the second person)
If you’re the first, you could do shorter batch periods of intense focus. Like batching your days for instance. If you’re like me and you know you will run out of time, you’ll need longer periods to complete your tasks, so you can go easy on yourself when you don’t get it all done in a day.
5: Use templates & checklists
Once you’ve decided on your regular jobs, the frequency you’d like to do them, and the duration of time you need to do it, you can start to build out an ideal working pattern. To speed things up even more, without sacrificing quality and cutting corners; create templates and checklists for each task.
Trust me, if you’re sitting down once a quarter to write 3 months of emails, you’ll need a checklist to work through to avoid forgetting what you did last time. And a template for your emails to create consistency.
From email templates for the different kind of emails you send, to blog posts, to checklists that you go through on every task to make sure you’ve completed it properly.
For instance, when I create my emails, my checklist includes;
Looking at my spelling and grammar
Checking links work
Adding alt text on images
Making sure I have strong call to actions
Ensuring the right audience is selected
Checking I’ve used the correct headers and signatures.
Look at the standard of what you want to be putting out there, and make sure you’re creating easy-to-complete checklists to achieve that standard all the time.
6: Review regularly
You won’t get it right first time – well I certainly didn’t! Set a new repeated task every 6 months or so to review how you’re working. Are you getting things done, or are you falling behind? Are you batching too far ahead? Review what’s working and what’s not – then change it, and review it again in 6 months. In time you’ll mould out such an effective and manageable ‘engine‘, the business will pretty much run itself.
And if you’re in need of some productive locations to work from when you’re in ‘the zone’, check out this article on 5 super productive places to work!
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So there you go. Use these steps to find your own batching rhythm that fits your working style, and watch as your business starts to look after itself!
Do you batch work? What rhythm do you prefer? Share your comments below!