I just spent an hour writing and mailing checks. Most of our household’s recurring bills get paid automatically, or through a quick process of entering the month’s amount on our bank’s bill pay system. But my business contractor payments, and various one-off things like the balance on a summer beach rental, some charitable donations, and estimated tax payments usually happen via the paper check route.
I had several of these building up on my task list. So I designated the window right before lunch today as the time to tackle them. Doing them all at once, rather than here and there over the last few weeks, meant I spent less time on these tasks, total. I’d like to think it helped with keeping time open for other things too.
“Batch processing,” according to my dictionary, is the processing of previously collected jobs in a single batch. In considering workflows, it’s always good to look for opportunities to do this. I usually write my Before Breakfast podcast episodes for the week in a batch. I practice them in a batch, record them in a batch, and listen to and send in the sound files in a batch. I know some people with daily podcasts record a little bit every day. That can work but I like to get in the flow and have my equipment up and running and then be done until next week. There are often transition times associated with activities. Batch processing minimizes these. Transition costs might be worth it for some activities. But not for everything.
That can be reason enough to try batching the little things, but I think there’s an important psychological factor at work too. We all have lots of administrative or small tasks we need to tackle. When these are always options to do, we can either feel overwhelmed or sometimes we elect to do these little things instead of deeper work because of the lure of easy accomplishment. I should be working on my next book manuscript but…I need to send in my vehicle registration renewal form! And send in the balance for the beach rental! Lots of stuff gets crossed off the list, but the big main thing isn’t getting done. The little stuff does need to happen eventually — but probably not exactly at the moment when these little tasks become useful for procrastination purposes.
Set a time to batch process the little stuff, and you can tell yourself — nope, not now. Now is the time for book writing. You’ll write out those checks at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday. Not before.
Do you batch the little things?
Photo: Batch processing the Easter eggs…