Back when I was aspiring to be a big-time blogger in the early 2010s, I remember all the girl bosses talking about batch scheduling. Essentially, they would choose a day of the week to do like-minded tasks, such as taking pictures on Tuesday; writing blog posts on Wednesday; and scheduling social media content on Friday.
The theory made sense to me: focusing on related tasks increases focus rather than mentally (and sometimes physically) bouncing from task to task. Because as we all know by now, multitasking is the kiss of death when it comes to productivity.
These days, schedule batching is making a comeback under the name time batching. It works by increasing productivity and focus, while reducing the stress and pressure of multitasking.
Here’s how to do it:
First, organize your tasks
The first step in becoming a master time batcher is to determine whether a task is a deep task (one that requires significant concentration) versus a shallow task (one that you can do quickly without thinking too much).
Next, group similar tasks together
From there, you’ll want to group related tasks together. In addition to reviewing the types of tasks, you’ll also want to consider when you do your best work. Are you a morning person, or does inspiration often strike after the dreaded midafternoon slump? This will help inform which days you should schedule which tasks.
Lastly, create a schedule that works for you
In addition to the types of tasks you’ll work on during any given day, it would be wise to include estimates for how long each task will take as well. Pro tip: everything always takes longer than you guesstimate, so be sure to build in a buffer as well and don’t forget to plan for breaks. Your body and your brain will thank you.
If you want to up the ante, try adding a scary hour to your time batching schedule where you tackle the most important task, or “eat the frog,” first. Tackling the hardest or most time-consuming task on your to-do list at the start of your day can lead to reduced feelings of stress and anxiety.
If you want to try time batching on a smaller scale, consider using another productivity hack, such as the Pomodoro Technique—wherein you work in 25-minute intervals followed by a five-minute break—to start.
Because our brains are hardwired to approach tasks we find enjoyable and avoid those that produce negative feelings, grouping similar tasks together can help refocus our attention and energy.
“That’s because at a basic neuroscientific level, we have a bias toward the present and prefer the immediate reward of feeling good when the brain releases the neurochemical dopamine,” Alicia Walf, a neuroscientist and senior lecturer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, previously told Fortune. “Recognizing when you’re getting stressed and trying to minimize that by deliberately refocusing on whatever the task is, versus those feelings of stress, anxiety, or not feeling motivated, is about retraining your approach to stress and behaviors.”