We could all use a little bit of free time! You may ask “what is this mysterious thing you call free time, Jen?” I know right? Free time can be rare in our lives and feel impossible to achieve at times. Recently, I needed to make some changes to my schedule because it was simply not working well. I employed one tool, that we already use every day, to freshen up my schedule and do some much needed Spring Cleaning.
I never understood the big deal about Spring Cleaning. Yes, the weather is warmer, it’s great to open up the windows and get some fresh air, but why do we need to go ALL OUT when it comes to cleaning each spring? The answer was revealed to me one day in February when the sun popped out after it had not shown for days. Up until that point, I thought my house was plenty clean, but the sun revealed an entirely different picture when it streamed through my windows onto my dusty floors. Holy Cow! Where did all of that dust come from? It sure did accumulate fast and was in desperate need of some sprucing up!
The same accumulation can be true for our calendars. Slowly, we feel busier and busier and find that we have less and less free time. Today is the day to open the curtains and shed some light on how we spend our time. If you are like me, you get into routines that sometimes turn into ruts. I have found one simple, but very effective, tool to make space on my busy calendar. It’s called batching!
Batching is lumping appointments and tasks together on your calendar to then free up time somewhere else for the areas that are most important to you. The goal of batching is not to do more, it’s to have time to do more of the right stuff!
As busy women, I can guarantee that you already do some batching. You run by the pharmacy on your way to pick up the kids. You put in a load of laundry, get dinner going, open the mail and write out your grocery list before the garage door closed on your way in after work. But I want you to consider looking at your everyday schedule through the lenses of batching. Batching with intentionality can make a huge difference!
- The key to batching successfully is to place items on your calendars at times that work best for you. That sounds obvious, but how many times do we “make a time work” even when it puts strain on our schedule. I know that I used to do it all the time. When you call to set up an appointment, take a minute or two to think about how you can batch it together with something else. Don’t accept the first appointment time they offer if it really does not work well for you. Think intentionally about how you can batch it with something else. You will be able to effectively batch items together when you work hard at accepting appointments at times that work best for you.
- Batching also requires plan ahead. If we are living in “emergency mode” which is dealing with everything at the last minute when we “just gotta get it done”, it is very hard to batch intentionally. When we are in “emergency mode” we are willing to make appointments whenever THEY can fit us in. Appointments that are spread out all over your schedule can be a HUGE waste of time.
- Batching helps with focus! Before I intentionally batched my schedule, I felt scattered. I was constantly having to start and stop what I was doing. Once I started batching items on my schedule I had time to focus on the task at hand. When the time would come for my batched appointments, I was off and running to get those all done one after another. I felt so much more clear minded!
- We can find the same benefits in batching tasks at home and at work. Find the groove that works for you, but taking control of your time and schedule is key. If someone calls or walks into your office and wants something that is not essential at that moment, it is within your control to tell them that “I’m in the middle of something right now, can we talk in 30 minutes?” Constant interruptions take away our focus. Let’s take the control back! It’s also a good reminder that we do not have to drop everything when our kids or significant other asks something of us during the day. We love to help and serve others, but setting boundaries will help us to stay focused.
Batching is not an new concept in your life, but it is great habit worth revisiting. Always look at your calendar through the lenses of batching. Small changes in your calendar can make a big difference! Remember the goal with batching is to free up time so that you can spend that time on what is most important to you. The goal is not to just fit more “stuff” in. We want to add more of what we love and remove the unnecessary clutter.
Make It Happen Action Step: Sometime this weekend, sit down with your calendar for the month of April and start to think about it in terms of batching. Place a post-it-note on your calendar as a reminder to batch, until it becomes a habit. Next time you set up an appointment, agree to a time that works best for YOU. At work, put a post-it-note somewhere to remind yourself to start to set boundaries with the people who “pop” into your office and want your immediate time and focus.
Here’s to making small changes in our calendars that will free up time for the things we LOVE!
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