Save time by batch processing typical office tasks

Lots of productivity tips can be hard to implement. But this one really isn’t.

If you are looking for a way to increase the amount you get done without much pain then batch processing is the way forward.

Some productivity tips involve pushing through mental barriers or cultivating habits. These are important but also take time and effort. Batch processing is a simple concept that has saved me loads of time.

The principle of batch processing

The principle is so simple that it’s surprising how few people use it to manage their work schedule.

  • Most day to day tasks have associated inefficiencies: time to get in the zone and time to prepare the necessary tools and software.
  • These inefficiencies are only experienced once despite the length of time you spend doing the task in question or the number of tasks done.
  • By grouping all daily or weekly tasks of a similar nature and doing them in one batch these inefficiencies only occur once rather than multiple times.

Practical examples of batch processing in daily office work

  • Check emails once per day.
  • Read sector news once per week (using Feedly) and scheduling social media posts for the week. (using Buffer).
  • Direct specific types of requests to specific mailboxes, like finance@ or support@ and dealing with them once per day when you have your accounting system, etc in front of you. I use HelpScout for this.
  • Schedule meetings back to back. One of the key inefficiencies in meetings is their propensity to overrun. This approach helps to keep you focused.

An important caveat

Devotees of the Lean Startup (which includes me) will be familiar with the shortcomings of batching. In summary, big batches reduces the feedback loop and in settings where feedback is useful that is a problem. Read more about that here.