Behind the scenes: How I batch tasks in my business
I wrote quite a while back about what I'm individually up to behind the scenes of my business but things have changed a bit since then, and I definitely feel that I'm more productive and efficient these days, so it's time for a new post!
Basically, here's a behind the scenes of how I work, specifically, how I batch tasks to get things done as efficiently as possible!
Also a business owner? I hope this helps give you ideas on how to work smarter not harder in your business.
Batching work is all about focusing your energy and time on one project at a time, and it's a game changer for getting things ticked off that to do list.
Pro's and cons of batching
Pros of batch working
1. Drag-on projects are no longer a thing. A lot of web designers ask me how I manage to not have drag-on projects as they find that projects normally drag on because clients don't have their content ready, are crowdsourcing feedback from their 95 person family on their new site, etc.
For the clients who I create custom websites for, they have my undivided attention for 2 weeks. I place the focus on 'you have me for 2 weeks' instead of 'you have me until your website is done.' Now, the wonderful coincidence of this is that websites always get done on time, because clients know they only have me for a set period of time.
If I'm working on an internal project (say building a new course, revamping my website, building out a new account system, etc.) I also know that I've blocked out a specific amount of time to get something done, meaning if I don't do it in the amount of time I've set and the rest of the year is full, the thing just won't be completed.
The fear of my project not being completed makes me work smart to get it done!
This means that I am forced to be less of a perfectionist, embrace the mentality of 'done is better than perfect' and it stops me from procrastinating and getting distracted because there's a real deadline and fire under me to complete my project.
2. It's easy to plan time off work and make important plans (like travels). I'm going, to be honest, one of the biggest bonuses of batching my work is that I know with certainty that work will happen when I schedule it, and I'll be free as a bird when I have nothing scheduled. Meaning deciding on when I'll take holidays and booking flights become super simple and I'm not stressed that some project will run over time into when I should be laying on a beach.
3. You're more efficient... Which is kinda the whole point. Mentally jumping from one thing to the next can be a massive time waster - so getting super involved in one thing means getting more done with less effort.
4. You can vary your year to keep things interesting. After 3 months of building an online course, I couldn't be more excited to get back to working on client websites. After a couple months of back to back client projects, I'm dying to get to do something else. When I batch work, I can still keep variety in what I do in a year, but also be efficient.
Cons of batching work
1. You won't have time for drag-on projects. If I've booked myself for 2 weeks to complete a client website and then 2 months to build a course, that client project cannot run long, no matter what because come Monday of the next week, there's something else that needs my attention.
The good news is that your projects won't drag on, the bad news is that you'll have to move mountains to get things done in their allotted time frame if things go wrong. Granted, you get pretty good at estimating the amount of time projects will take because of this. Now and again the fact you have a serious deadline really puts on the stress knowing you can't miss it.
How I plan my year of batched work
Does this sound familiar? You start the year with 29,243 ideas of stuff to work on and then realize that you're one person and that that's totally unrealistic.
First, I go through the process I describe in this post to decide on what projects I'll actually be doing in my business.
Then, I decide how much time it'll take to complete each task and how many weeks of holiday I want to have.
My list then could look something like this:
Holiday: 8 weeks
6 client website designs: 12 weeks
Build online course: 12 weeks
Revamp website: 1 week
Write 12 guest blog posts: 2 weeks
Host a 4 part webinar series: 2 weeks
I continue this until I have 52 weeks of work/life written down. Then I open up my Google calendar and start putting in any definite dates. I start with considering my year as a whole.
1. Definite dates first. This is normally holidays because I take them with my boyfriend who's a teacher, and therefore he has very inflexible holiday dates. If I have any conferences I know I want to be at and I already know the dates, I place those in too so I can work around them.
2. Client considerations second. Generally if I have to fly somewhere or am going to a conference on a weekend, I like to place internal projects before and after instead of client projects, as then I don't need to worry about time zone changes and being available for a call in a new location where I'm not sure about the wifi.
3. Spacing out launches. It wouldn't serve my audience if I launched my course in June and then again in August and then gave them no opportunity to enroll for the entire rest of the year. I intentionally space out course launches, generally, this means that subscribers have a chance to join a course of mine every 6 months.
Lastly, I open up my GCal in month view and start clicking and dragging to create my projects for the period of time they'll take to complete.
I color code things to make the at-a-glance look easy to understand. Any time I can't work (holidays, flights, conferences, my birthday 😉, etc.) are in red. Internal projects are light blue and client work is dark blue.
I love doing this in GCal because it's so easy to create all of your projects for the length of time they take and then start dragging and dropping them into the organization that serves my life and business best.
I spend a little while dragging and dropping until I feel I have the best year plan possible.
The longer I've worked in my business the more I've learned how I like to work. I've learned that any more than 3 back to back custom web design projects in a row I start to go a little crazy. So I've started to adjust projects based on how I work best.
Then I put it into my project management system
A while back I took Megan Minn's Asana HQ course, and I'm now so in love with using Asana to organize my business and my life.
(If you want to see exactly how I use Asana to organize all my tasks, I take you behind the scenes of my Asana in this post: How I use Asana to organize the tasks and calendar in my online business)
The last step of this batching process is to ensure I don't forget what the heck I'm supposed to be working on that week.
When I plan my full year I might not know exactly the steps of a project, so I always put a task in Asana on the start date of the new project to tell me what I'm working on and how long I have to complete it.
If I'm moving into new project territory, I also mention in the Asana task to figure out exactly the steps to complete the task and to place those tasks into my Asana. If it's a project I already know well (eg. a client website design) I'm good to go, I know exactly how to start without having to think a second about it thankfully.
What I'd like to batch in the future
I've not yet quite arrived at batch working utopia, so there's still a few things I'd like to get rid of.
First, my inbox. Or just give taking over my inbox to someone else. One of the two.
Second, blog post writing. I write posts twice a week right now, but I know that I could be more efficient if I blocked out a couple weeks to write all the posts for a say a 6 month period at once. I know Marie Forleo does this with the production of her Marie TV and I'd love to get to this point.