In this monthly series, I explain how I’ve combined batching (combining multiple activities into one integrated routine) with daily checklists to be productive on multiple fronts.
Over the past 6 months, I’ve developed the habit of keeping a daily to-do list. Early on in the process, I realized that 12 checkboxes were the sweet spot for me – any less felt unproductive and any more felt overwhelming. At the beginning of 2016, I decided to create AM and PM routines to combine several activities together so I could quickly complete these tasks in an orderly fashion. Gradually, I identified 12 of these “batched” routines in my life. These routines led to increased productivity and allowed me to be a high-performing Renaissance Person (I’ve used the term “multifaceted productivity” to be a bit more concise).
To make this concept applicable to many others, I decided to give each routine a generic title. Over the next months, I will explore each of these routines more in-depth, including my own practices and suggestions for implementation. I could see myself turning this into a publication, but first I need to start with more manageable blog posts and see if it takes shape or not.
Here are the 12 batched routines, in rough chronological order for me, with a brief description of what each looks like for me:
- AM Routine: I get the day started with an ordered process of cleaning, pet care, grooming, breakfast, and reading. (It no longer takes me 2 hours after waking up to get out of the house)
- Movement: I go to a hot yoga session, alternating between 3 different classes throughout the week. Between the preparation and post-workout shower, it can take close to 2 hours, so it’s important for me to have an efficient routine.
- Administration: I answer emails (unless an email’s urgent, I only reply during this time), check social media, update my finances, and complete any small tasks such as a brief phone call.
- Creative Practice: I practice bass using a daily routine of technical and applied exercises. I also have a weekly schedule in which I alternate between electric/upright, as well as varying up my techniques, scales, styles, and tunes.
- Professional Projects: I write blog posts 2 days a week and spend the remaining days working on my (forthcoming) publications and online courses.
- Dietary Practice: I maintain meal plans that I am continually modifying to find a good balance between health-conscious and enjoyable. In addition, it takes time to prepare and clean up after my specialized meals.
- Errands/Chores: I run errands 2 days a week (mostly going to the grocery store after yoga to get fresh produce) and spend the remaining days alternating between cleaning my kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom.
- Tasks: I’m still working on a systematic approach to knocking out other to-do items – including emergencies, regularly-schedule tasks, and non-pressing things like repairs that still need to be done.
- Hobby: I try to do a little work each day on my monthly cross-stitch project. Unlike other routines, where I need to force myself to get started, with this I often have to force myself to stop past a certain point.
- Socialization: I phone/message/email family or friends and occasionally meet up with folks after my professional outings (see below). As a socially-anxious hermit, this requires an embarrassing amount of motivation.
- Professional Outings: Almost every night, I head out to teach ensembles/classes/lessons or go to a gig or rehearsal. I’d like to be doing more freelance gigs and teaching more lessons, but feel I’m making good progress toward my ideal work schedule.
- PM Routine: I prepare for bedtime (i.e. resist the urge to stay up till 3am) with tidying up, grooming, and journaling.