Darren Rowse over at Problogger.net had a great post last week about batch-processing. Basically, Darren lets certain tasks accumulate until he has enough to justify setting aside a specific time to do them. He batch-processes everything from blogging to responding to emails to going through his RSS reader.
Good on him. I’m still trying to figure out the most productive times for me to do certain things. Lately it seems as if I’ve become rather scatter-shot again in my to-do list, tackling X for so many hours while neglecting Y. Not the most productive or lucrative way to pursue one’s daily schedule, mind you, especially when you have a ton of other things other than X and Y on your list. It’s not original, as Darren readily admits, but it works for him. I’m going to have to try that next week. I’ve already created a grid of sorts that carves up the week into half-hour increments, Monday through Friday, and have inserted when I think specific tasks should be addressed. Monday and Wednesday mornings, for example, will be devoted to writing queries, while Tuesday and Thursday mornings and Friday afternoons will be set aside for just writing. Other activities I need to do — blogging, email, phone, research — will take up other blocks of time during the week. I’ve even dedicated two hours on Friday morning to do housecleaning, something I loathe to do and try to minimize as much as I can. (By the way, I’ve been pretty successful on that front so far.)
I’m looking at this schedule now and realizing that this can’t be set in stone, as Darren’s pointed out. I have meetings scheduled sporadically, not to mention interviews, but I’m going to try and “batch-process” those as well, devoting only specific times and days for them rather than allowing them to be thrown all over the calendar. Plus, I think I’m going to see if I can get away with more phone interviews and fewer in-person ones, even for local subjects. As small as this town is, an in-person interview can take up at least an hour of time, not including travel. Most of my telephone interviews can be done in half an hour, and in the end I have all my notes already typed up in rough format on an OpenOffice doc.
Still, I’m going to give this a try. I once had a schedule much like this in college, which worked perfectly for me. I sketched it out each evening before going to bed and pretty much stuck to it during the day. I’ve since become a wee bit more “flexible” with my time, but that’s only resulted in my letting too many non-essentials take over my schedule. Let’s see how this one goes.
What about you? Anyone have a killer time management tip or trick they want to share? Lately it’s become an obsession of mine, so I’m always happy to hear what others are doing.