Batching (and efficiency vs. urgency)

Batching is one of the best ways I know to get things done.

The concept is simple: combine all similar tasks into one batch and tackle them in succession. By doing this, you skip all the start up and slow down time, which is usually the most time draining part of tedious activities.

Today, I did a horrible job batching. I’ve been all over the place. I’ve emailed some (but not finished). I’m commented some (but not finished). I’ve written some (but not finished). I know this isn’t the best way to do it, even as I’m doing it. So why don’t I batch?

The evil enemy of batching is urgency. Urgency prompts me to take care of certain tasks first regardless of how efficient it is to work on them.

I think we – or at least I – do this through much of life. We focus on what’s urgent instead of focusing on what’s most efficient. We lean more to the urgency side.

On the other side, though, efficiency certainly isn’t everything. Sometimes urgency matters. So here’s my question of the day:

When is it best to focus on efficiency, and when is it best to focus on urgency?

Once you answer, there’s an even bigger question: how do you know?