Batching Some Tasks Hurts Efficiency
The process of batching, or storing up similar tasks until you can get many of them done at once, can provide a huge productivity boost. Paying bills is one such example. As I’ve mentioned in the past, batching bills can save you time by reducing how often you have to get out your checkbook, stamps, etc., or log on to your bill-pay website. In other cases, however, batching can make a task more difficult, and less productive.
As an example of when batching hurts efficiency, consider how you manage your receipts. Recording each transaction as it occurs takes very little time. Splitting transactions between multiple budget categories is also easiest when the transaction is fresh in your mind. When I get behind and allow receipts to accumulate, the process gets increasingly more difficult. As a result, I put the task off even further until I finally have a stack so overwhelming that I consider giving up and starting again from scratch.
Tasks that have relatively low overhead often should not be batched. Batching tasks that have a large amount of overhead makes sense. Doing as much work as possible, once you’ve committed to that overhead, can increase efficiency. For many other tasks, where overhead is low, batching actually decreases efficiency. If batching makes a task so difficult that it inspires bad habits, then it should certainly be avoided. Make a list of the tasks you do on a regular basis, then note which ones could benefit from a change in the amount of batching that you use.
Monday, August 18th, 2008 at 9:15 am