In our first several years of owning a small business, our schedule was go-go-go. We didn’t have formal business hours — and instead, we simply worked as often as we possibly could to build the foundation for our dreams and goals.
Nearly 8 years later, our formal business hours are Monday – Thursday, from 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM CST. When it comes to having formal business hours, there are so many pros — like being able to set and manage client expectations and experiencing better work-life balance. But there are also cons — like… what happens if you aren’t feeling productive, creative, or excited about your work during those business hours?
As humans, it’s natural for our productivity, enthusiasm, and joy to vary from day to day, week to week, and month to month. In other words, we simply can’t guarantee we’ll feel like our most productive selves during the business hours we’ve established.
That’s why today, I’m going to share how to batch your tasks with strategy — how to listen to how you’re feeling each day, and plan your workday accordingly. That way, you can still make progress in your business and serve your clients well — with less overwhelm about how you’re feeling — or not feeling — during your business hours.
How to Batch Your Tasks with Strategy
Chances are, in your years as a business owner, you’ve experienced something like this: One week, you’re feeling like a productive, problem-solving, driven small business owner… and the next, you’re feeling a little slower, less productive, and less excited about completing your checklist.
In our earlier years as small business owners, I used to feel such overwhelm about experiencing these very natural ebbs and flows. I had once believed being 100% productive 100% of the time was what I needed to be a successful business owner. As a result, I pushed myself harder than I should have, which may have led to burnout, or producing a lesser quality of work than I wanted. Maybe you can relate to this, too!
In more recent years, I’ve discovered how to batch my tasks with strategy — how to work with myself, rather than against myself — to ensure I’m still productive and helping to move our business forward, but doing so in a way that works with how I’m feeling. That’s what this week’s episode is all about. Here are 5 ways to batch your tasks with strategy:
- Schedule formal business hours. As mentioned at the start of this week’s episode, scheduling formal business hours can make all the difference in how you approach your business. For us, setting business hours has helped us to establish clear boundaries in our business, to set and manage expectations between our business and our clients, and to create better clarity overall. By scheduling formal business hours, you can create an outline to work within. So when it comes to batching your tasks, you’ll have clear parameters for when you’ll do so. Every small business and small business owner is unique, but if you can schedule your business hours for when you usually feel most productive — we recommend doing so. At With Grace and Gold, our business hours are Monday – Thursday from 7 AM – 3 PM, because both Andra and I are most productive in the morning.
- Get to know yourself, and understand how your emotions or energy play a role in how you approach your work. Self-reflection plays an important role in successfully batching your tasks with strategy. Whether there are certain seasons of the year you feel more productive, or certain times of the month you feel less productive — it’s important to be aware of how your emotions or energy level play a role in how you approach your work. Keeping a journal or creating a log of how you’re feeling each day can be a helpful exercise. Knowing your productivity, energy levels, or enthusiasm can vary from day to day will also help you to feel less guilt about these very natural, very human peaks and valleys.
- List all of the tasks you need to complete within your business, and categorize each task. If your business is like ours, there are tasks for working on your business, like bookkeeping, social media marketing, or updating your website — and tasks for working in your business, like email or client on-boarding and off-boarding. List all of the tasks you need to complete within your business, and then categorize each task under its corresponding category. Maybe you have a Business Housekeeping category, which would include bookkeeping and regular website updates… Maybe you have a Marketing category, which would include social media marketing, newsletter writing, podcast recording, and blog post writing… and maybe you have a Client Projects category, which would include all client-facing projects and tasks. Categorizing your tasks will help you to do the following…
- Determine which tasks are best completed when you’re feeling a certain way. The categories you create in Step 3 will help to guide you as you look toward batching your tasks, because each category tends to require a different approach. As an example, Housekeeping to-dos like bookkeeping or completing website updates only require us to use the systems we already have in place in order to process information. So, we often save Housekeeping for the end of the week, once we’re feeling less creative or have less energy. Marketing to-dos like social media marketing, newsletter writing, and podcast recording require a great deal of creativity, planning, and forward-thinking. So, we often work on Marketing at the very start of every week. As you reflect upon how you feel during an average day, week, or month, consider which tasks are best aligned with each feeling or energy level.
- Create your schedule in alignment with what you’ve discovered. Create your schedule accordingly. Using a project management system, assign your tasks in alignment with what you’ve learned about when you are feeling most and least productive, creative, and energized. When you do, you can rest assured you’re ending each day having completed what you needed to — and reduce any overwhelm or guilt you might otherwise feel.
One additional mindset shift I’ve made over the years, is to remind myself that every type of feeling and energy level matters. It isn’t just the feelings of 100% productivity that help a business to grow and succeed; it’s the quieter times of reflection and rest, the inspired times of brainstorming and planning, and the higher-energy times of working diligently. Every type of emotion and energy level can play a role in how you approach your business — and everything can contribute to your success. I am hopeful this week’s episode helps you to experience less overwhelm, to listen to how you’re feeling, and to work with yourself as you approach your next season in business.
About Brand It, Build It Podcast, Hosted by Kelly Zugay
Hosted by Kelly Zugay, co-founder of With Grace and Gold, The Brand It, Build It Podcast is a leading small business marketing podcast for small business owners, creatives, and founders. Weekly, brief, actionable episodes will equip you to build a successful, sustainable small business.