Although motherhood is the most wonderful role I’ve had, sometimes it feels like a losing battle in trying to keep on top of schoolwork, the house clean, everyone fed, and spend quality time with the hubby. Forget time for selfcare and and exercise, some days it’s a struggle just trying to keep everyone alive! That’s when the concept of task batching changed everything for me.
Task batching is a time management tool to maximize your productivity, creativity, and concentration while minimizing distraction, overwhelm, and fatigue. Basically, it’s when you group similar tasks together to complete during a dedicated time period without any interruptions. This significantly reduces the time and effort that it takes for your brain to switch and refocus on many different tasks.
Why Multitasking isn’t working
Before I started task batching, I’d switch from task to task in what felt like a never-ending spiral of exhaustion. All of this back-and-forth between tasks steadily wears on your ability to perform well. You need time to constantly adjust to whatever task is immediately in front of you. Girl, that shit adds up FAST. Chances are if you’re trying to juggle being a student and a parent, distractions are everywhere. Your workflow gets constantly interrupted by texts, kids, reminders, food breaks, errands… life. It’s all too easy for distractions take priority over what you actually want to accomplish.
When your brain is focused on a specific type of task, task batching lets you maximize your focus until the job is done. The effort that your brain requires to switch between tasks is what makes you feel tired, overwhelmed, and unproductive… not the task itself. That’s why task batching streamlines your workflow. With task batching, you stay focused on a certain mindset where we get “in the zone,” can temporarily set aside distractions, and be more effecient. If you’re check Instagram every few minutes or have kids begging for your attention, you’re not going to achieve the mental flow required to be productive.
Assume that ‘life’ will come up at some point in the day, so schedule in some flex time in each day.
So let’s start Task Batching!
- Make your to-do list, ideally one for the whole week. If you’re just getting started, list only what you want to accomplish in the next couple of hours.
- Group together tasks by the mindset that you need to be in to accomplish them (e.g. cooking breakfast and lunch together) and location (e.g. at home at the computer, school)
- Split your time into chunks and assign each task category a dedicated window of time
See how I get all of my work and online studying done? That’s because I know that I have set aside dedicated time to do them both at the computer, so I don’t need to stress about either of them while doing other tasks. You can batch tasks that use similar resources by day, week, monthly, quarterly, whatever you need.
Once I started paying attention to how my mind is able to only stay focussed on one thing for so long, it allowed me to adjust my expectations for what is going to get done when. For example, I know that my best time to both study and work is first thing in the morning, so this is my best time to leverage help for childcare. Later in the day when everyone’s brain feels like mush is the perfect time to mindlessly tidy-up and prepare a simple meal for the next day.
VIP: Very Important Information
Here’s a few things I want to emphasize about task batching:
- Life happens. Things come up, and you won’t always be able to stick to a schedule; you have to give yourself some wiggle room. If you need to adjust, just move that task to another timeslot and readjust your calendar. In fact, assume that ‘life’ will come up at some point in the day, so schedule in some flex time in each day. Be patient with yourself.
- Planning out your task batching takes time.
- Do your best to minimize distractions. Turn off email alerts, or better yet, put your phone in another room. You’ll make fewer careless mistakes, and feel more in control and focused.
At the end of the day,
Since I started task batching, I get more things done that actually matter. It may not a perfect system for everyone, but I feel more in control of my time. We all have the same amount of time in the day, you just have to decide what is going to get prioritized and make it happen!