Batch, Block and Buffer
Does the concept of successful time management elude us? Have we become a slave to the imminent ‘ding’ that comes from one of your electrical devices? Are we measuring a successful admin day based on a small number of emails in our inbox?
Perhaps it’s time to embrace a new way of thinking. Many new movements are telling us to break up with Busy, but I prefer to make friends with and play nice with my Busy-ness.
When your mama made cookies and pulled them out of the oven, they came out in batches didn’t they? Well you can do the same with the goodies that come from your laptop.
Tim Ferriss, author of the 4 Hour Work, first introduced me to this concept. I now respond to my work messages in ‘batches’.
All email, voice and text enquiries now get answered at more or less the same time each day. It also means that all blog posts get written in the same batch, or in the same increment of time.
In order to do this successfully, I had to make peace with the fact that there will be times, days and sometimes even weeks where some unanswered messages will sit in my inbox.
Does it mean that I sometimes miss out on potential work opportunities? In my view, no: I believe that what is meant for you, will never go by you.
Do I really want a client who needs me at their beck and call, to always have access to me at the last minute? If that’s the case, chances are I wasn’t the right therapist or yoga teacher for them to begin with.
The wonderful thing about social media platforms is that we get to interact with a variety of people everyday.
The challenging thing about social media platforms is that we get to interact with a variety of people everyday.
If we’re going to make friends with Busy and play nice, we need to do the same thing with Time. If we’re constantly lamenting that we “never have enough time,” Time Management becomes akin that crush we had back in High School who never noticed us simply because we always thought they were out of our league.
One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to take charge of our own value. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter give us an option to block Internet trolls and online abuse, but how good are we at blocking off our own time?
For years I lamented that my Spanish speaking skills had deteriorated as I “never-had-time-to-go-to-classes-anymore.” But the truth is, I never blocked out the time to actually attend any classes.
Why do I teach my regular yoga classes every week? Because I’m accountable to the yoga studio that the classes are held in. There’s a specific period of time each week that is ‘blocked’ out for those classes. So why can’t I make myself accountable for my own growth, passion and creativity?
During work hours, this also means that I don’t always respond to every call, text or email as they come in. Unless it’s my mother, bestie or partner—they’re my three exceptions. Whether I’m writing an e-course or speaking to a client, I’m more present and focused when I’m in the zone. Consequently, the results I get end up being better quality.
In another life 15 years ago, I worked as a social worker. I was part of a team that shared an office manager who, among many talents, was in charge of booking our counseling appointments.
I remember having a particularly cruisey day and strolling out to chat to her between clients. “You know, we could probably have fit a few more people in today,” I’d said. She was horrified. “What? And leave you with no buffer?”
And so the concept of buffering was born. And every time I forget to give myself a buffer, my other friends like overwhelm and stressed come to visit me.
A buffer of time between clients or classes means that if we’re running late, it’s not the end of the world. If we’re running on time and I’m feeling tired, I have a siesta to restore my energy.
And my favorite part? The combination of batching my messages and blocking my time out actually gives me the buffer I need to think about my reactions, and to respond more mindfully.
Got a crush on elephant…want to go steady?
Editor: Waylon Lewis