Multi-tasking versus Time Zoning or Batching Tasks
Time Zoning or batching is a form of time management that allows a person to improve their focus and reduce distractions. As a result, it increases your productivity, creativity, and mental sharpness, while decreasing fatigue, procrastination, and stress. Time Zoning or batch processing is the act of grouping of similar tasks together; those tasks that require similar resources, or similar thought processes, or for you to in the same place in order to streamline your activities, making you more efficient and more effective.
Too many of us go through our day allowing distractions to dictate our activities.
We’re in a constant state of reacting to the needs or interjections of those distractions (e.g., email, phone calls, text messages, voicemail, meetings, etc), However well-intentioned, we often allow the priorities of others to supersede our own. How often have you had a project or specific tasks that required time and focus but an email or phone call distracted you from accomplishing it? Working in a perpetual state of shifting tasks and refocusing attention creates fatigue, stress, and decreased productivity.
Every time we become distracted, it can take between two minutes and 15 minutes to regain complete focus. Unless you are intentionally managing your time, there is a very good chance that you operate in a constant state of unfocused response. If that’s the case, you are not being nearly as effective or productive as you could be and you’re simply not giving yourself, or your employer, your best (note: your best is not defined by how hard you work but by how smart you work).
Batching versus Multi-tasking
Think about it; what is the alternative to constructing zones of time to deal with clusters of associated tasks? Might it be what many call “multi-tasking?”
Multi-tasking is a myth; we are rarely, if ever, able to do two or more things at the same time. What we are doing is rapidly switching from one task to another and back again. This division of focus combined with the negative impact of the constant shift in focus reduces our productivity, drains our creativity and increases our stress. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Peter Bregman suggests that our productivity can drop by 40% when we attempt to focus on several things at once.
Batching is Best
Zoning your time or batching your tasks means you are setting aside an intentional amount of time for a group of similar intentional tasks and making an intentional effort to not allow the distractions or interjections of others break that focus. After that block of time is up, take a planned break, then begin the next block of focused time. Each block or zone of focused time is dedicated to one task or set of similar tasks.