If you asked me what my favorite type of batch was, I’d have to say chocolate chip cookies — hands down.
But time batching comes in a close second.
What is time batching? It’s a time management strategy that has you accomplish similar tasks in tandem. The idea is to get things done all at once instead of repeating the same tasks throughout the day.
There’s many ways time batching can help you create a better email management strategy. This isn’t just for those in email marketing, but for anyone who has to use email as a part of their workday.
Implementing time batching for inbox zero
I’m not sure about you, but I get pretty anxious when a new batch of emails rolls in; especially if I was already working on something else. When will I have the time to reply to all of these on top of my other daily tasks?
With time batching, also referred to as time blocking, this doesn’t have to be such a concern.
What is time batching?
Time batching is, to put it simply, the act of blocking similar tasks together so as to accomplish them in one fell swoop throughout the day.
Time batching example calendar courtesy of Doist
You might have one batch of all of your internal communication tasks, one batch of external communication tasks, as well as many other job-specific batches. For example, a content marketer such as myself might batch my tasks in the following categories:
- Research, outlining
- Writing, editing, and uploading
- Outreach, communication and social media
How time batching affects inbox zero
How you manage your email is up to you, but in this article, I’m going to assume you practice something called “inbox zero.” Inbox zero means what it sounds like: an empty inbox.
People are often distracted by the contents of their inbox even in meetings, and it’s easy to lose important information in the shuffle of your day. The concept of inbox zero asks that you actively do something with each email that comes your way: respond to it if you can do so in under two minutes, delete/archive it if it’s unimportant, forward questions you can’t answer, and move any messages that require a longer response to a separate folder.
This is where time batching comes in: instead of continually checking and organizing your email throughout the day, you designate a block of time during which you can sit down and accomplish all of these tasks at once.
Email is constant, and people want a response right away. Giving everyone your immediate attention is a great way to kill your productivity, however. I recommend time batching your email two to three times per day.
In the morning, around lunchtime, and right before the workday ends would be a perfect schedule. This way you’re not letting anything slip through the cracks, but you’re also not letting email completely take over your day.
Unless you’re using email for emergency communication, I would recommend that you not even look at it outside of these times. That will only serve to stress and distract you from the thoughtful schedule you’ve created.
How to implement time batching
If you’ve never used the time batching strategy before, it can seem daunting or intimidating. It’s worth saying that time batching is just another time management tool, and with a little preparation and practice, it’ll feel natural in no time.
One day at a time
The first thing you should do if you’re looking to implement time batching is to make a detailed list of the things you need to accomplish in a day. It’s best to do this early in the morning, or even the night before your workday. Don’t get too ahead of yourself and try to plan the whole week: start with one simple, attainable day.
This is what gets some people scared: once you’ve created your to-do list, you’re going to plan out every minute of your day. I can’t control how you do this; you know your job and how long it takes you to accomplish things.
I can tell you that productivity experts say it’s best for people to start with their most difficult and dreaded task so as to get it out of the way. With that in mind, think of batching your most complex tasks toward the top of your day and leaving the afternoon for your lighter loads and keep track of progress through a project management tool.
Week over week
Once you’ve gotten the hang of time batching your days, you can graduate to time batching your weeks. You’ve already laid the groundwork of creating a detailed list of your responsibilities, so this shouldn’t be as difficult to accomplish.
When you’re time batching an entire week, you simply have to ask yourself, “can I take some of the work I do every day, and do all of it one day out of the week?”
For example, say you’re an email marketer and it’s your job to sit down every morning and write the email that is going out in the afternoon. Could you time batch this task and write all of that week’s emails on Monday?
This is the ultimate goal of time batching: that you can build up productivity practices so tasks that typically take up a good chunk of your time can be accomplished in one sitting. You might even find this an easier way to do things, as the brain uses a lot of energy trying to mentally switch between tasks throughout the workday.
All batched up
Now that you know what time batching is, how it can aid you with overcoming email anxiety, and how to implement it into your routine, you’re ready to change the way you work!
Want more help managing your time? Check out the best time management apps for 2019.
About the author: Grace Pinegar is a lifelong storyteller with an extensive background in various forms such as acting, journalism, improv, research, and now content marketing. She was raised in Texas, educated in Missouri, and has come to tolerate, if not enjoy, the opposition of Chicago’s seasons.