Batch working might be my favorite productivity hack that I’ve ever learned. I share it whenever I can. Batch working will help you get twice as much done in a fraction of the time. This strategy gives your brain an advantage by focusing on similar tasks while also eliminating transitions.
Today, I’m going to dig into what batch working is, how to start batch working right away, and what’s most important to remember as you move forward. I also use the term batching in this article. They’re the same concept. Here we go!
What the heck is batch working
Batching is a way to tackle repetitive tasks that you do every week, day, or even multiple times a day. You’ll sit down and complete the same step (or task) multiple times in a row. I’m going to use family newsletters as an example. In the district I’m working in, the expectation is that teachers send an update to all families weekly. Because this is something I do every week, it pings my brain to batch!
I used to write my newsletters every Wednesday and then send them as soon as I was done. Now I batch. On the first Wednesday of the month, I write 4 newsletters at once. I keep the weekly updates section blank until that week, but any other resources or tips I write on that first Wednesday. Then I save my newsletters in a designated space for the upcoming weeks.
By working on a similar, repeated task it’s easier to get into a state of flow. Your brain doesn’t need to recalibrate every time you transition to something new, so you get done with whatever you’re working on way faster! Since I’ve started batching I spend almost the same amount of time writing four newsletters as I do just one.
How to start batch working today
Sit down with a pen and paper and make a list of your daily or weekly tasks. Don’t overthink it! Your list might look something like this.
- Write unit plans
- Prep resources and materials
- Grade and give feedback
- Send family updates
- Respond to internal emails
Guess what!?!? I batch all of these tasks in some form or fashion. I’ve been doing this for years, so start with one thing. Choose some low-hanging fruit.
Grading is a great place to start. Do you grade an entire assessment or paper for one student at a time? If so, you’ve got to start batching! Grade #1 on every single paper first. Then go back and grade #2, and so on. This simple shift will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
Maybe you want to start by batching your material prep. If you write morning messages. Write all the morning messages for the week at once. How many read alouds do you use in a given week or month? Make a list of all the themes or topics you need a book for that period of time, and gather all your books in one go. That’s batching my friend!
Don’t fall into these very common traps
Distractions are a very important detail to mention. Batching is great for focusing your energy and being more systematic. However, if your cell phone is pinging or your email is open as you’re cranking stuff out, you’re going to have a problem.
Remember, the goal is to focus your energy. If you’re working on grading. Grade! Close down your email and put your cell phone away. You don’t need either of those tools for grading, so set yourself up for success.
If you’re afraid to head to the school library to gather those books because people are always trying to come chat. Set up some boundaries for that time. You are the keeper of your own time and energy. Guard that with your life! If you need some help with setting boundaries, I’ve got you. Here’s another post we have done on that topic.
Let’s bring it all together
Batch-working will save you loads of time by focusing your attention by eliminating transitions. Remember to also eliminate distractions so you can really get the best bang for your buck!
Look for any repetitive task. If you’re doing something multiple times, you can batch. Complete one step at a time and then move onto the next. Rinse and repeat until you’re finished!
Finally, start simple. If you attempt to batch everything right out of the gate you’re going to feel overwhelmed. Pick one very doable task to start. Then build up your momentum from there.
If you want to start with batching your weekly family updates, I have a resource for you! Creating newsletters was the bane of my existence until I figured out how to do it better. Grab my Family Newsletter Guide here.