I'm usually a little sceptical when I hear about new "trends" and "incredibly amazing things you HAVE to try", which is why I have ignored other people going on about how great working in batches has been for them. Here's what it's supposedly about:
batch processing: the performing of an industrial process on material in batches of a limited quantity or number.
Doing one single task over and over again? HELL NO, that's precisely why I'm self-employed: so that I can be free to improvise and switch between all sorts of tasks, not confined by anyone or anything telling me what to do, because I know exactly what to do (most of the time, at least). But then I caught myself interrupting writing a blog post or newsletter to answer an email, respond to a comment or reading an article someone posted on Twitter. Or I realized it's been 5 days I posted something on a social media channel when I actually wanted to make sure there's going to be daily posts on there for a while. Or... you probably catch my drift by now.
Even though I love having the freedom to work on the tasks I want to when I want to, this sometimes results in me being all over the place, not finishing anything and basically not feeling very happy and content about a whole day's work. So, albeit begrudingly, I decided to read up on this incredibly unsexy sounding thing called "batch processing" (seriously, can we at least name it something hashtag-worthy?) and give it a try. So here I am, a couple months later - ready to share a few thoughts on how everything worked out. Some of them I've managed to implement into my work schedule - others I'm still struggling with.
1. Filling up on social media content
This one immediately made the most sense to me: Instead of sitting in front of your laptop 3-5 times per week wondering on what exactly to post on your social media channels, why not gather all the things you want to publish in one go for a whole month? I'm talking creating graphics, drafting tweets and Facebook posts and looking at which blog posts to promote (I like to have a look at my website statistics to see which blog posts got the most hits in one month and then decide which ones to feature again over the next month) - the whole shebang! Now, it takes me significantly less time to make sure my social media channels are always filled with tons of useful content - and with the power of scheduling tools like Buffer or Busy.io, I don't even have to think about it anymore! Turns out automated stuff can actually be pretty cool.
2. Scheduling meetings on certain days of the week
When I started out, I used to be excited about every. single. meeting. It sounded important, it made me look busy, you never really knew what to expect! Didn't take too long for me to realize that a lot of meetings could actually take place in the form of emails or phone calls, and that they also presented themselves as serious time-suckers. So I started scheduling meetings on two days of the week only - while leaving 3 days for working by myself and getting things done. This is one of those wonderful things where you don't realize how much happier it's going to make you until you go ahead and implement it. It seriously made everything SO MUCH BETTER. In the past, I had weeks with one single meeting (usually in the middle of the day) every day of the week. Now, I first make sure whether a meeting is actually really needed and if so, rather schedule them back to back on two days.
3. Consuming new content only once or twice per day
I mean, I'm not stupid. I have a Feedly account. I know it has a "save for later" button. I know it's super easy to organize all my feeds into categories and getting rid of those I don't really enjoy anymore. I JUST NEVER USED ANY OF THOSE THINGS. Here's me, checking my feed reader approx. 5 times per day, opening a bunch of tabs thinking they could be of interest and then not reading them because I'm too overwhelmed and actually have other stuff to take care of now. Sounds great, right? No. So one Sunday afternoon, I had a look at all the blogs and news sources in my feedly and I deleted 83 of them. Do I really need to know about those 7 Times Blac Chyna Expertly Threw Shade At The Kardashians? Probably not. As much as I would love to, am I going to recreate these 5-Ingredient Magical Fudgesicles? No. So right now, I have less than 30 blogs and news sources left in my feed reader, I've organized them in 5 neat categories and I only look at them twice per day: in the mornings and evenings, when I actually have the time to read the tabs I open.
4. Checking and responding to emails & comments only once or twice per day
Full disclosure: This one is super hard for me. I know a lot of people who actually swear by disabling their email clients during the day and only responding to emails at certain times, and I've tried - but failed. I'm just too curious to see what's in there, and seeing 23 unread emails makes my anxiety go higher than catching a glimpse of someone's overcrowded desktop. I've managed to stop myself from answering every single email as soon as I've read it, so that's a step in the right direction, right? RIGHT? Thank you.
5. Writing several pieces of content in one day
Add this to the pile of things I still have to work on - because I swear I tried, but it just doesn't do it for me. Many others rave about how they are able to crank out 3-4 blog posts or newsletters or several pages for an ebook in one half day because they are able to focus only on writing, so I tried to do that and sat down in a café with no WiFi (the horror!), headphones and my favorite concentrating piano playlist. It all just felt way too forced; turns out, my writing mojo comes at different times during the day and week - so far, I haven't been able to coax it out for more than one blog post at a time as I end up being unhappy with the work and scrapping most of it. But hey, different things for different people - why not give it a try and see if it works for you?
So how about you: Have you tried working in batches? What are your thoughts? Which one of my suggestions would you like to try out first?
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