Yep, multitasking is a major contributor to wasted time. When it comes down to it, multitasking is actually task-switching. And every time we switch, research has found that we lose 20% of our overall productivity for each task we try to take on at once! So rather than task-switching, we should be task-batching.
What is task-batching? Task-batching is the act of grouping similar tasks together and doing them together in one block of time, rather than addressing them out of context and getting caught in a task-switching pattern. It allows for greater focus, and results in getting more done quickly with fewer mistakes, because when we switch between tasks, we’re mentally shifting gears which is hard on our brains. Task-batching also helps us prioritize our workloads and allocate time more efficiently when we dedicate specific blocks of time to different tasks based on their urgency and importance.
Take a look at your to-do list and try to identify the tasks that are good candidates for batching together:
- make all your phone calls in one chunk of the day
- run several errands at once rather than running out for one thing
- group your work tasks by project or by task type
Create a routine for your everyday/weekly tasks and prep your task-batching ahead of time and schedule them as recurring events/time blocks in your calendar. If everyday you know when it’s time to clean out all your inboxes, respond to messages, and make your calls, you’re less likely to catch yourself switching gears mentally in the middle of a task. There’s less oversight with task-batching as well because this method of working reduces the risk of neglecting or forgetting important tasks, as each task is given the attention it deserves.
Using a focused approach to work like task-batching allows for deeper engagement with our tasks, fewer mistakes and distractions, and saves us more time than multitasking. Stop switching tasks, make the switch to task-batching!