Wednesday, May 27, 2009


One of the greatest takeaways I've gotten from The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss, is the idea of batching.  Batching asks the question, "What activities can I allot to a specific day, week, month, quarter, or year so that I don't squander time repeating them more often than is absolutely necessary? (108).

Before beginning this book, Mandy and I had decided to do this with our grocery shopping.  We had read this book, and decided that we would attempt to go to the grocery store three times during the month of May.  The goal was to free up time and to not spend as much money.  These two goals go hand in hand.  By planning our meals and shopping, we have avoided the ever-so-often last minute trip to Schnucks to pick up croutons.  And we all know what happens when we run to the store to pick up croutons (especially when it's right before dinner).  We end up picking up several other items as well.  This cuts into the monthly budget.  I'm happy to report that we have done really well, and our goal is to cut it to two trips this month.

As I wrote in my first post on this book, my next step was to go from checking emails every time one arrived in my Outlook mailbox to only opening Outlook to read and respond to emails five times per day.  Ferriss suggests only doing this twice a day, and I may get there soon, but as I said, baby steps are needed here.

Yesterday I was waiting on a tow truck to pick up our Saturn (it's been in the parking lot at Union Ave. Baptist Church since Sunday night).  I had some time so I read more from the book. A lightbulb came on as I read his section on batching.  On a notecard I listed all of my monthly, weekly and daily tasks, and put the numbers of hours I spend on each.  This includes admin tasks, meetings and study time for church, property management and real estate work, as well as household chores such as laundry, cooking and paying bills. 

This part wasn't new to me.  I've done it before and it's been helpful.  What I had never done, however, was this:  I opened up Outlook (though I didn't check email yet because it wasn't time), and proceeded to put all of these tasks in my calendar.  I always put meetings, events, and deadlines in my calendar, but I haven't always put tasks such as these on it:
  • Prep for sermon
  • Upload sermon to website
  • Pay bills
  • Update rental spreadsheet 
I never forget to do tasks such as these, so I figure there's no need to write them down.  However, by having them in my calendar, I see how my day fills up.  I see the things that have to get done.  There's plenty of flexibility to move things around, but on Sunday night I know that I can get a quick overview of my upcoming week in about a minute.

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but as one who has complete control over my schedule (not always a good thing for some), this helps me gauge my productivity.

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