This piece was written for and published by Darling Magazine.
If you are an entrepreneur, you likely spend your time feeling like a cocktail of inspired + deflated, generative + stuck, or focused + scattered. Sound about right? You may be familiar with the reality that being busy is different than being productive, yes? You want to work smarter, not harder.
So, whether you work for yourself at home in your sweatpants, or are part of a high-profile startup hustle (or both!), here is a great way to maximize your productivity and clarity …
Learn to prioritize the small things that comprise a successful and organized business. Time batching is an uber simple technique that can change the way you work. It can help you get more done without spending twenty minutes deciding what to focus on!
Here are four easy steps to set yourself up for success:
1. Time batch.
Sit down with your week’s commitments, deadlines, tasks and errands. Use small pieces of paper, and write only one task per paper. Write down everything you can think of. No task is too small. Include everything that you want and need to have happen in your work week. Once you’ve gathered them, sort them into these three popular categories of work themes (or, make up your own!):
- Marketing + Managerial Mondays: Emails, scheduling, all marketing and PR, event planning, anything sales related, purchasing plane tickets, applications to events and jobs, business development, continuing education, phone calls and correspondence, manage mailing list, schedule social media for the week, print for the week, prep for clients and meetings.
- Word + Website Wednesdays: Write blog posts and all content for the week, update classes and events on website, write + send newsletter, draft/complete all writing commitments, graphic design for all materials, track last week’s web analytics, reading and research for clients and obligations, create content on all upcoming projects, branding tweaks, anything that involves writing!
- Financial + Follow up Fridays: Follow up on all relationships, emails, projects and events, tie up any loose ends before the weekend, send out thank you cards, send invoices, accounting and book-keeping, track Paypal and bank accounts, log all tax related expenses, pay quarterly estimated taxes, tally mileage from the week for deductions, manage investments and debt, pay credit card, deposit all checks.
2. Track it.
Now that you have three thematic piles of work tasks, automate and log them. Wunderlist is a great way to keep track of our to-do lists, and have them with you and synced throughout all devices. Create the three main lists (M, W, F) and then fill in all tasks from your paper piles. Once you’ve logged everything, look at each item and set deadlines for those that have them. Also, some things are one-offs, while others happen weekly. Set the appropriate repeat settings for weekly tasks.
3. Schedule time blocks.
Schedule blocks of time to get your fabulous batches in. Most successful productivity experts agree that unless it’s on your calendar, it’s basically imaginary and it’s not happening! Ideally, find at least 2-3 hour chunks when you can focus on one list. Some choose to batch every day, some prefer a few “non-batch work days.” Your other days without time batching can be more organic, perhaps you take the day off, or you let your schedule be more fluid and muse-honoring.
4. Work it, bay bay!
When you sit down to start your batch session, review your list and pick the three most urgent and important tasks. Don’t get distracted by only urgent things, important is the key word here. Begin with those. If you have a super-session and power through all three tasks, you can always revisit your list, or go do a handstand and call your mom. Regardless, the feeling of completing your focused 3-task list will encourage continued focus wizardry on your next session.
Truth: A massive part of working with time batching is remembering something that is “off-topic” when you are in “batch-mode” and adding it to the necessary list, instead of completely switching gears to blog your magical new matcha donut recipe when you should be updating spreadsheets.
(Just make sure to post your matcha donut recipe, because that sounds delish.)
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