“My #1 Secret to Productivity: Batching” by Ali Brown

One of the most exciting parts of starting and growing a business for most of us is the freedom that comes with being an entrepreneur. No one else dictating our schedule, how we work, or even what we’re working on. I remember those first days after I walked out of my last real job in NYC, practically singing “Born Free”!

But then the following week, I was humming a different tune… something like “Freak Out”… I realized I had jumped from a predictable pool into a vast ocean of freedom, and I had no idea how to structure my time. Each day I’d wake up and go from task to task and not have any organized way to do it, or a way to rank my priorities.

The bottom line: Structure gives you more freedom… when you do it right.

And I desperately needed some structure. But how to set it up? And in what way?

As I committed to learn more about business and success, I was lucky enough to come across many good ideas I use and teach today. But the most powerful one I’ve used is the concept of “batching”.

Basically, batching is ploughing through a bunch of similar tasks at once… looking at all your tasks that you have during a certain week or span of time that are similar in nature and batching them altogether.

Have you ever noticed when you get into the groove with a certain task, you become more efficient as you go? But if you stop and start different things, you lose momentum by switching gears.

Once I learned about batching, I became enamored with it! And here are my five favorite tasks to batch:

1. Email. Instead of jumping like Pavlov’s dog every time your e-mail bell goes off, take care of email in batches. To ensure success with this, please (I beg you)… turn off e-mail notification on your computer and smart phone. You do not need to know instantly when an e-mail comes in. It’s not designed to be urgent communication. The e-mail will still be there later, and you can write back to them at that time.

I will note that while most productivity experts don’t recommend checking email first thing in the morning, I do. Why? I have several team members on the East Coast who, by the time I am out of my pre-coffee brain fog, are waiting for answers on things to allow them to move forward and have a productive day themselves. So I allow about an hour in the a.m. to address the quick answers, and then save emails that require more thought for later on.

2. Phone calls. If you need to schedule or make several calls this week, then set aside some time to do all your calls in one sitting. You may end up leaving a few messages, but as long as you’re in a phone-calling mindset and have all the numbers in front of you, you’ll ultimately save time.

In my Elevate online business training program, I teach members to batch their coaching calls with clients as well – condensing all calls into just two or three days a week frees up your other days for project work.

A few years ago I was managing a lot, so I had to be intense about this. When I was running my $100,000 Diamond group, each member had a monthly private 30-minute call with me, and I scheduled them all on one day a month. At the beginning of the year, we made clear to clients that our 1:1 coaching calls were always on the second Tuesday of the month, and to block it out for the entire year in their calendars.

Handling 8-10 focused calls into one day required some energy, but it freed up so much of my time otherwise, it was wonderful.

3. Out-of-office appointments. If I have to get dressed, do my hair and makeup, and get in my car here in L.A., you can be sure I’m not just going to run out for one appointment! (Ladies, you know how long it can take to get out of the house, especially when we’re more used to rolling out of bed and working at home in our Ugg boots.)

It could be a day of client meetings, a day of various doctor appointments, or a blitz beauty day where you get your hair, nails, and waxing done all over town in one fell swoop. For those of you with kids, this is also a great way to maximize your childcare as you get more done in less time. On a day you have a sitter, you should make the most of that time and get as much done out of the house as you can.

There have also been days where if I’m doing hair and makeup for some videos I’m shooting at home, I’ll also add on a meeting or dinner date after, while I’m looking great! See where I’m going with this? Start thinking this way and it will change your life.

4. Blogging and social media. If you use blogs and social media to promote your business (and I hope you do), then batching can be a huge help. Spend a few hours at the beginning of the week writing up several blog posts at once and schedule them to publish throughout the week. For Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, use apps like Hootsuite to pre-schedule updates to automatically publish for you throughout the week. I have my team do the business updates for me, and then jump in myself when I have time, peppering in personal updates and fun shares.

For maintaining social media, set aside some time to check in on your pages and responses instead of jumping in there every ten minutes. I usually like to do this in the morning, during or after lunch, and at the end of day, if I have time and feel like it. Otherwise I have my team help monitor whenever possible.

(And please stop getting instant Facebook updates on your phone like you’re in high school! You don’t need to know immediately that your colleague just posted a new video, Aunt Myrtle baked a fresh pie, or your old college friend just invited you to play FarmVille2. These stimulating bits of news will still be there later. You’re running a business, remember? Business… )

5. Other admin or housekeeping tasks. Consider batching your invoicing, bill paying, time with colleagues, organizing the office… the possibilities are endless! And don’t discount doing this for your personal life. For instance, if you need to write thank you notes, sit down with everything you need and write several at once. If you don’t have time to cook for your family each night, make a large batch of food on Sunday and reheat it (or re-disguise it ;)) throughout the week. If you miss your friends from back home, schedule a trip to see several at once.

By batching similar tasks together, you’ll be amazed by how much more you can accomplish without working longer hours. And that means more time for the important strategies. Or heck, how about just working less?

If you need some help with this, and want to dig a little deeper, I recommend you look at my bestselling program “Millionaire Time & Productivity Secrets”. It’s my radical approach for entrepreneurs to stay productive and focused. You’ll make more money and achieve your best results, while still having energy and a life!

QUESTION: Do you already use batching in your business? What about your personal life? Please share your best strategies in the comment section below.

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© 2013 Ali International, LLC
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“Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow a profitable business that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com

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15 Responses to “My #1 Secret to Productivity: Batching” by Ali Brown

  1. Mathy says:
    February 21, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Hi Ali,

    My friend told me so much about you and now I’m here. I only use batching for videos but maybe you’re right I should use it for everything else. I do videos once a week and you’re so right about the notification button I need to turn them off.

    Thank you so much for that

    Mathy

  2. Leatrice Wells says:
    February 21, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I’ve started to batch clients into VIP Days and VIP Sessions. This way I meet with clients only 2 or 3 times a week, and the rest of my time is free for…. ? ? ?
    Great idea! And it totally works.

    • ali says:
      March 11, 2013 at 1:39 am

      Great to hear Leatrice! Thanks for your note.

  3. Marie says:
    February 21, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    I’ve experienced the time savings of batching before in my home and business, but have been lax and scattered about it with both lately. Thanks, Ali, for the timely reminder and some new tips that will improve my productivity! I imagine your system will really be a plus for you when your little blessings arrive and add a few more activities to your day.

  4. Jackie Ulmer says:
    February 21, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    I have been doing this for the last 2 years, especially with blogging, podcasting and video shoots! Talk about freeing! Yay!

  5. Kristin says:
    February 21, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    I can’t promise it will work or not but I’m doing a kind of version of batching currently. I am writing about what my perfect day would be, actually I’m writing seven of them so I have one for each day of the week.

    I am doing it like this because as a mom of three with three other schedules to keep in mind, each day has it’s nuances. Also I intend to keep a running list of things that need to be done, probably based on where I need to be & other requirements, for those spontaneous little windows of time that sometimes appear.

  6. Lisa Hines says:
    February 21, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    Ali, I used to be the queen of batching – in the past. I have abolished it for the last 7 months and it’s time to resurrect it as I get more focused on a serious business. I just had this same discussion with Joy yesterday, so this is timely. I like the way you have created your own rule for email in the morning, based on what works best for you and your biz. It’s a good lesson that not everybody’s way may fit for us, and to keep seeking what works best. I love the simplicity of this approach, too.

  7. Cheryl at Healing Healthy says:
    February 23, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    I have been batching some things but you have convinced me to go all the way!! Especially when it comes to leaving the house!! I have not been doing that but I can see how that could save me a ton of time and energy! Thanks for the final push!

    • ali says:
      March 11, 2013 at 1:41 am

      Glad it was exactly what you needed Cheryl. :)

  8. Pingback: Your New Productivity Vocab Word: Batching - Career Girl Network

  9. Dallas says:
    October 5, 2013 at 6:53 am

    I use Hootsuite & batch my posts, updates etc for a week at a time, then have reminders to add personal comments /lifestyle updates to my FB/twitter pages. Having all social media linked makes for consistency and makes sure no followers on any network get left out, and as my business mainly tuns through FB this saves me SO much time, esp on weekends when my posts update while i’m by the pool, at the beach, out for lunch etc. Need to batch more items though! Great read, thanks Ali!

  10. Nicole says:
    October 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Since I’m still working a day job while starting my business(es), this has become imperative in really being productive.

    I temp during the day and teach German as a Foreign Language, which is one of my businesses. Batching has allowed me to put all my lessons together on one evening, so I teach two long lessons Thursday nights now, whereas before I had them split up willy-nilly and that wasted a lot of time.

    My other biz is as a solo concert artist, as I’m a classical mezzo-soprano, and these gigs are occasional and not regularly scheduled. And now when I blog for my singing blog “Open Intervals,” I create 3-4 blog posts at a time and set them to post on Thursdays, my blogging day. Now when I know I am going to be busy, I can rest assured that blog posts are still going up and it creates traffic and news, even when I’m out of town singing a gig.

    It’s also made me incredibly productive and has impressed the folks at my temp job! Batching has been one of the greatest things I’ve learned from you, Ali, thank you!

  11. Juliet Turalski says:
    November 20, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Love this way of utilizing time. My next step is to schedule in the batching!

    • ali says:
      November 25, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      That’s great Juliet :)

  12. Carmen Saunders says:
    April 12, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Hello there Ali…I never knew what batching was until now. I’m a virtual assistant and most entrepreneurs delegate these tasks to me. But even VA’s need to find ways to be more productive. Thank you for this great article.

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