Despite a natural tendency to be a bit scatter-brained (and a nagging suspicion that ADHD might run in my family), I pride myself on being a productive, fairly organized individual. I have a love for time-management, even if I sometimes lose focus and let my inclinations lead the day (I like to think that finding time-management that works despite my natural tendencies makes me even better-equipped to work with other easily-distracted creatives).
So when I noticed that my days were starting to run away with me, I knew I needed to get a handle on it.
A brief, embarassingly honest description of how my days look without time-management:
- 6:30-8:00: Wake up, make breakfast and lunches for kids, get them off the school, walk the dog, eat breakfast, get dressed
- 8:00-8:20: Check some e-mails
- 8:20-8:40: Facebook
- 8:40-9:30: Respond to emails from earlier, make a list of things to do
- 9:30-9:45: Facebook, probably?
- 9:45-9:55: Remember that I really need to do laundry. Trudge up three flights of stairs to collect dirty clothes. See toothpaste globs in bathroom sink and stop to clean it. Immediately forget about laundry.
- 9:55-9:58: Go back downstairs and remember that I was *supposed* to be collecting dirty laundry. Decide I should probably get some work done before my morning meeting. Remind myself NOT TO FORGET THE LAUNDRY. Forget laundry until 8 pm.
- 9:58-10:20: Do some work
- 10:20-10:30: Know that I'm not going to get much done in the 10 minutes before my meeting. Check Facebook to pass the time.
You get the idea. Anybody else deal with this? Clearly, this (lack of a) schedule was NOT working.
When I decided to try time-batching for a week, it wasn't my first trip to the rodeo with it. I had tried time-batching before (maybe a bit half-heartedly), but I decided this time I was going to really put effort into it. One week of time-batching just to see if it made a difference in my productivity.
In case the concept is new to you, time-batching is really just a way of dividing your time into related tasks and doing all of those related tasks in one go. Then you take a break and move to a different set of related tasks. There's a good article about it here, if you want some more background on the idea. I'm going to share with you some of the things I learned when I really gave time-batching an honesty try.
1. YOUR SCHEDULING WON'T BE PERFECT, AND THAT'S OKAY
There are people who swear by the concept of "only checking/responding to your email at specific times every day." Honestly, I have not been able to get there. Because of the nature of my day job, I get random questions throughout the day that may need to be dealt with immediately. I deal with them. I go back to what I was doing. It's not perfect, but I am not the type of person who can shut down her email server for four hours at a time.
Similarly, every day may look different. I may work 7 hours one day at one "job" and then only work that "job" for two hours the next day.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA: SCHEDULE IT. SERIOUSLY.
It's good to take a break every now and then. It is NOT good to take a break every twenty minutes.
3. TIME-BATCHING HELPED ME ACCOMPLISHED MUCH MORE THAN USUAL
Despite my possibly-imperfect method of time-batching, I was MUCH more productive during this trial week. I mean, I was checking things off my to-do list like a BOSS. I was checking things off my list that had been on there for weeks. Do you get that little rush of endorphins when you check things off of your to-do list? Of course you do.
If you time-batch, how has it worked for you? Have you found another method that works better for you? Let me hear about it below!