I had a serious IT crisis once when not just one thing went wrong! From broadband problems to my laptop crashing and lots of other things in-between, I was feeling challenged! I had to approach my work in completely new ways so that my productivity wouldn’t go totally out of the window.
The one thing that helped me work smarter during this time was grouping (or batching) different tasks, and applying this technique consistently. Grouping or batching tasks makes so much sense as you end up being quicker, having fewer distractions and less temptation to multi-task!
For example, as I had lots of internet down time I was forced to plan my online and offline time separately. Carrying out my online tasks remotely once a day encouraged me to batch them and also to group offline tasks, to be carried out during the rest of the day.
So let’s assume your to-do list says you should do some invoicing, emailing and filing. Let’s think of invoicing as task 1, emailing as task 2, and filing as task 3.
If you were working on three different client projects (A, B & C), would you prefer to do emailing, filing and invoicing for project A first, then the same for project B and C?
If your preference is to work this way, imagine you are cooking a meal. Let’s say you cooked a starter and a main course that both included onions. Would you slice the onions for the starter first, then complete that dish and then slice the onions for the main course?
I always get out all the ingredients that are needed to prepare the whole meal. I then prepare all vegetables and fruit in one go, which is so much faster overall!
All it requires is a little more forethought by imagining the final meal, its courses and their relevant preparation times. You then put them in order – not necessarily as they are eaten, but as they are prepared, with the goal of minimising effort and preparation time.
The same applies to your work projects. When working on 3 different projects (A, B & C), don’t be tempted to do filing and invoicing for project A first, before tackling project B and C!
It is far more efficient to group all emailing tasks (1), all invoicing (2) and all filing tasks (3) as in ‘A1, B1, C1’ followed by ‘A2, B2, C2’ and so on….
When you approach all your work projects in this way, even downtime on the internet can have its advantages!
By Ute Wieczorek-King, copyright 2009-2011
To sign up to her monthly newsletter, please visit the Success Network website.