The downfall of multi-tasking - constantly switching between tasks, rarely finishing any, and feeling overwhelmed in the process. Gone is the day when multi-tasking was considered the golden ticked to ultimate productivity.
Now, single-tasking is taking over. Allowing your mind to focus solely on the task at hand, from start to finish. This'll get you 'in the flow' which means you'll complete things quicker and more effectively.
I want to introduce you to an approach to single-tasking that's popping up here and there: batch working. It's really quite simple, and is based on categorising your work into batches, tackling one at a time.
Although I haven't yet settled on an approach yet, I have played around with a few ways of batch working. If you're keen to up your productivity and get more stuff done (faster) - give these a go.
If your work consists of a lot of varied tasks - you might have a lot of meetings mixed with admin work or creative brainstorming - you might benefit from 'theme days'. Each day of the week focuses on one type of work only, allowing you to keep your focus on similar type of tasks the entire day.
For example, you might dedicate Mondays to meetings and phone calls only. Tuesdays are strategic or creative days. Wednesdays, you clear away admin or tech tasks. And so on...
Obviously, this only works in an environment where you have full control over your schedule and how you work - but if you do, this one's probably right up your alley. Perfect for entrepreneurs or managers.
A slight twist on the theme days, are 'split in half' days. Similar to theming, you dedicate the AM to one type of work and the PM to another type of work. I've found this useful when I need to set aside time for creative work, and not be interrupted. I would then make my morning people-time and do meetings, face to face catch-ups, team scrums, and so on.
This type of batch working is easier when you have a little bit of control over your schedule, but not as much as for theme days. You can try to introduce 'split in half' days at least a few times a week, to increase productivity.
Lastly, the simplest form of batch working to introduce, and the most flexible, is 'block scheduling'. You might even do this now, without knowing it.
You basically want to schedule a number of hours - a block - for a particular type of work. For example, you might set aside 2 hours to do writing only, followed by 1 hour of emails and phone calls, followed by 3 hours of strategic thinking work, and so on.
Regardless of whether you have full control over your schedule or not, this type of batch working is easy to implement. You can try it a few times a week to get used to it, if you're currently a master multi-tasker.
I find block scheduling really valuable, as it avoids me having to shift my focus between different types of tasks too often. But, it's flexible and fits in beautifully into my day-to-day schedule.
I hope you give batch working a go, as it's a great way to start single-tasking. It'll help you be more productive and mindful. If you do give it a go, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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What do you do, when working hard is defined by the number of hours you work? Do you care about perception?