How I Use Task Batching to Rock My To-Do List

Task batching, grouping, batching, batch processing–hey, it doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s crazy productive!

Grouping tasks into "batches" saves time and boosts productivity. Try it in your bullet journal!

Task batching saves time and boosts productivity. Try it in your bullet journal!

|How I Use Task Batching to Rock My To-Do List|

I am a work-from-home mom. Let’s rephrase that. I’m a never-sleeps-because-she-stays-up-all-night-catching-up-on-the-work-she-couldn’t-do-around-a-tiny-distraction-monster mom. Glamorous, no?

In all honesty, it’s pretty much the greatest job I can imagine, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else right now. I absolutely love writing and blogging from home.

But sometime last month, I discovered I felt worn out by early afternoon, even though I had nothing to show for the day. In fact, I was getting less done than when I casually blogged for fun.

What was keeping me so busy, yet so unproductive?

“Busy” Is Not the Same as “Productive”

Before I started task batching, my typical day sent me running from one unfinished task to the next. I was juggling, or “multi-tasking” as people sometimes call it.

Multi-tasking is a myth in my world. I would start a task, get interrupted, try to start again, get all ready to accomplish something only to be interrupted again! Not only was I not getting anything done, I was exhausted! There’s nothing more frustrating that seeing a line of unaccomplished bullets that you worked on all day.

So, I took a hard look at my routine and discovered 2 things:

  1. Most of my time was wasted switching gears (i.e. putting my brain in the right mode for parenting, writing, taking photos, editing, brainstorming, journaling, etc.).
  2. My windows of uninterrupted work time only lasted about 30 minutes.

I knew that if I was going to get more done, I had to be ultra productive in those 30 minute windows. Task batching is how I’ve made that happen.

What’s Task Batching, Anyway?

Years ago people were all about multi-tasking. Then a bunch of scientists  (science people who get together to science some science) told us it’s actually task switching, and it’s uber bad for us. Our brains need time to catch up when we move from tasks to task. Once we’re in a certain mode, it’s best to focus on that mode until the task is done. Switching is what makes us tired and unproductive, not the tasks themselves.

One of my favorite books about personal productivity is Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy. If you’ve ever procrastinated yourself into a corner, you need this book! I’m not usually impressed by anti-procrastination books since they basically say, “Just get it done.”

This book goes much further by suggesting habits and techniques for maximizing your time (everything from planning to execution).

Eat That Frog! says,

It’s estimated that the tendency to start and stop a task–to pick it up, put it down, and come back to it–can increase the time necessary to complete the task by as much as 500 percent.

In an attempt to cut down on the “pick it up, put it down” time, I’ve been grouping similar tasks together (a.k.a. batching or batch processing). Task batching allows your brain to focus on one type of task at a time. For example, email correspondence and answering blog posts call for similar mindsets. I group them together without losing my work flow.

Here’s what that looks like:

Monday- Write two blog posts

Tuesday- Take photos for two blog posts

Wednesday- Edit photos for two blog posts, take care of administrative tasks

Thursday- Errands, catch up on home tasks

Friday- Creative writing, all day

Saturday- Finish leftover photo editing, and weekend errands

Sunday- Home, church, light administrative work in the afternoon

*Pre-planning is key here! If you wait to group tasks until it’s time to work, you’ll end up in a reaction pattern again.

Make Task Batching Work For You

Task batching saves time and boosts productivity. Try it in your bullet journal!

Make a list of all the tasks you need to accomplish in a typical week. Computer tasks, house work, research, phone calls, emails, design work, fitness…basically, whatever your day entails.

The list doesn’t have to be strictly work related. Try to imagine all the things in your life that need your time and attention. In my case, work-at-home mom, I know a huge portion of my day is devoted to parenting. Let’s face it, scheduling parenting is like asking the weather not to change! I might not always be able to guard against distractions, but I can take the time to group snack, story, and snuggles. I find my son is usually happy to play solo while I work as long as I’ve tended to his needs first.

A photo posted by M.J. (@pageflutter) on

Group tasks logically by their function or locations. I try to lump computer work together on the same days because if I leave the computer, I’ma nota comin’ back! I combine photos and video because lighting/props are a factor. It’s much more efficient to take a group of photos all at once. I also schedule difficult tasks in the morning because I’m less likely to get interrupted then.

Task batching saves time and boosts productivity. Try it in your bullet journal!

Create Focus

I thrive on a routine.  I use scheduled time blocks for my work and assign a focus to each window (see my handy dandy table above). You can split your days into time segments however you work best. I like to imagine my days in an a.m./p.m. split. I can either assign the same task to both segments (an all day focus) or give a different focus to each half of the day.

For example, I’ve devoted Mondays completely to drafting blog posts. I split Wednesday between graphics (a.m.) and administrative work in the afternoon. I assigned each focus twice a week so I have a backup in case life happens.

I sometimes have to move my focus to another day, but this schedule gives me a place to start my week.

So, we have time windows with a focus. What now? How to we make sure we’re effective within those time windows?

The Pomodoro Technique

I first learned about the Pomodoro technique on Michael Hyatt’s website, but you can get it from the source HERE. I won’t go into too much detail here, but the idea is simple. It requires you to focus intensely on a single task at a time.

1 Pomodoro= 25 minutes + 5 minute break

You set a timer for 25 minutes, turn off distractions, and focus on that single task for a solid 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, take a 5 minute break. Some tasks may take 2 or 3 (or more) Pomodoros to achieve.

The time block works great for me. The timer usually goes off just as my attention begins to wander or my son needs something.

** Turn off distractions! No phone, no email, no social media. If you’re like me and work with a tiny distraction monster at home, try to create a suitable independent activity before you start a Pomodoro.

It takes me roughly 2 Pomodoros to write the copy of a blog post. So even with breaks and Mommy time, I can easily write two or three posts in a day.

Sanity Restored!

Now that I’ve been using the technique for a few weeks, I can honestly tell you it’s life changing! I can accomplish more without sacrificing time with the people I’m working so hard for.

Have you tried task batching? Share your secrets to stress-free productivity in the comment section below.

Brainstorm with me!

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Megan Rutell
Megan Rutell
Writer & Creative Blogger
Megan Rutell is the blogger behind Page Flutter. She's also a writer, stationery lover, Air Force veteran, and homesick Colorado girl.

10 thoughts on “How I Use Task Batching to Rock My To-Do List”

  1. I find that a 20 to 25 minute ‘focus’ is about all I can manage without a break, so the “Pomodoro” technique works well for me. I try to set up for the next task (but not start it) before I take a few minutes to stretch, run to the breakroom or bathroom or whatever. Since I work in a traditional office, I try not to stay at my desk for the break. Then I dive right into the next task as soon as I get back to my cube. I try to schedule email and social media right after lunch since my energy is low then.

    I’ve also been known to do 20/10 on house work – I take a slightly longer break with more physical activity to sit down, re-hydrate etc.

    1. You’re smart to pay attention to your energy levels! We often push ourselves to work at our least productive times, but we can accomplish so much more when our minds are eager to work. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me, threadbndr!

  2. I need a longer pomodoro chunk than a half hour. I don’t have to deal with distractions and have an almost infinite ability to focus, so a half hour breaks my concentration and makes me cranky. On the other hand I need to be reminded to take a break and walk around, so having a timed work period is a good idea. I can literally work for 7 hours without noticing and then hardly be able to get up from the chair.

    1. I’m sure I would take longer if I didn’t have so many things competing for my attention. Each person will be a little different, but I find this method is highly adaptable. Whatever works for you. Thanks for the comment, Judith!

  3. Ok this post rocks my world!!!! I sooooo needed this because, as a fellow “never-sleeps-because-she-stays-up-all-night-catching-up-on-the-work-she-couldn’t-do-around-a-tiny-distraction-monster mom” I never feel like I’m getting things done due to unproductive “multitasking”. While juggling a blog and client work, I’m working on launching an online bullet journaling course and it always seems to be the course that suffers. I bet that blocking out my time like this and using the Pomodoro technique will really help! Thanks Megan!

    1. I’m so glad, Rebekah! It can feel like a lot to take on sometimes, especially when we get interrupted ALL. THE. TIME. Hang in there, mama. Oh, and keep me posted on your bullet journal course launch! I’d love to hear how it goes for you. 🙂

  4. I was literally journaling this morning about this frustrating feeling of getting nothing done with two (now one) sick kid at home – then I stumble on your blogpost. <3

    We live in the Middle East currently, where the kids have almost 3 months of summer vacation. So I was behind on all my projects and so glad to start on them in September — only to have both kids home with high fever first the one, now the younger one. I love them but these interruptions … siiiiiigh 🙂

    1. Brida, summers are especially hard! When it’s just me and my little guy, things are pretty easy. When they’re both home together…well, you know how it goes! I hope everyone gets well quickly so you can get back into a good rhythm. Best of luck. 🙂

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