Friday, February 21, 2020

Batch Working : How I use it to keep me sane

I am a creative person with a thousand ideas running through my mind at any given time. And it is really difficult for me to stay on top of everything. There is just too much to do. How do I manage to work on everything that I want to do? I am sharing my secret with you. It will definitely help you be more productive in your work.
If you have been following me you know I love to do a lot of things. I make quilts, I teach quilting, I teach online too, I also have a long arm machine in my studio and do a lot of long arming. I also mentor creative entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. I blog, I am an influencer, I am a board member of an international organization and I also work on one of its task forces. Apart from all of this, I also am a wife to a wonderful husband and a mom to an energetic tween. I love every aspect of my life and aim to live it to the fullest. I not just want to do everything, but to enjoy it too.
How do I manage to do it? Firstly, I do not do it all! Neither do you have to. Realistically, you cannot do it all. So let us find the next best thing to do. Do as much as you can: one thing at a time.

The best way that works for me is to do my work in batches. I combine activities together and work on them at a time, be it at home or in my business.
I have set aside Tuesday afternoons for my “home” duties. This usually starts with making a meal plan. We cook each meal fresh (so no making in large batches and freezing meals for me). So that means planning for 3 meals every day. I already have a reference plan ready (an outline of sorts – like Monday breakfast is leftovers / eggs) I just spend 30 minutes finalizing the actual meals. Then I make a list of stuff I will need for the meals. I then go to my kitchen and check the items I already have on hand, crossing them off my list. Now what is left in the list is my shopping list! Armed with this list and another one of other stuff around the house that I need to buy, I head for a quick shopping trip to the market. Doing this on a Tuesday means I’m not distracted with Aadi being at home. I put away everything as soon as I reach home and my maid preps all the veggies for the week as per my schedule. I also schedule my weekly cleaning and organizing chores for the same evening. That way I only have to spend one evening a week taking care of the essential t hings at home. I am lucky to have maids to come and clean every day for me. That also leaves me with enough time every day to spend on my business and keeps my weekends free to enjoy with my boys!
Batch working
In the business front too I work in batches. I do too many things in my business, making quilts, teaching quilting, creating online courses for quilters, long arm quilting, mentoring women entrepreneurs, creating courses for women entrepreneurs, writing my blog, supporting local rural quilt makers, making quilts for my own pleasure, participating in craft shows and exhibitions, public speaking, and so much more!!! And I take all of it seriously. 
I usually keep aside evenings and Tuesday mornings for my online work. It includes a different thing for every week of the month. The first Tuesday of each month is spent planning the month. I also keep an eye on the following month so that I have no surprises coming up. I take out my calendar and mark days that Aadi has holidays (I have a lot of interruptions when he is home) and then proceed to mark the "Focus" of the day on each day. That way I am aware every day what my focus for that week is. 
I teach quilting in my studio 2 days every week (only mornings). So Monday and Thursday mornings are blocked for my classes. The afternoons on those days are usually spent on creating stuff enough that my assistant Rukaiyya is busy for the week. 
I keep my Saturdays loose. I spend them as I want. If I have too much going on, I even use the day to just unwind and relax. Or if I know I have a busy week ahead, I use the day to work either in the studio or in my home office. This gives me wriggle room every week. That way I do not feel tied up. I also make sure that I spend the afternoon cuddling with my son on Saturdays so that both of us can stay up late when we go out for dinner in the evening. 
Some key points I take care to remember when I am working in batches :
  1. Look at the month as a whole. Also keep an eye on the following month.
  2. Do not focus on just one area. I also use a yearly calendar to mark the months I travel to teach. That way I know what is coming up next.
  3. Combine similar activities together. I combine working on projects for Rukaiyya to finish with my quilting classes days because the time is not enough to concentrate on my huge quilt, but not so less that I can just ignore it. 
  4. Make sure you get some fresh air - EVERY DAY
  5. Plan with consideration to timelines. Be aware of your deadline. That way you know how much time you should be spending on something.
  6. Say NO to things that you cannot accommodate. You will easily find me refusing opportunities to speak on weekends. Unless it is a very important event to me or it is one of my quilting workshops, I don't usually take up any engagements on weekends (especially Sundays)
  7. Delegate. Find someone who can do your tasks and let them do it. I know it is hard. They might not do it your way, but they will get it done. And given enough time they will do it 'almost' like you did. I always hand bound my quilts. I was so sure that no one else will be able to do it like me that I never bothered teaching anyone else. Btu once I taught Rukaiyya she has been doing a flawless job
Most important thing : Enjoy what you do! The most important things is to enjoy what you are actually doing! There is no point in beating yourself up over not doing something properly when you do not love it in the first place!!!
Do you also use batch working to increase your productivity? If yes, how do you do it? Any ideas that will smooth out my wrinkles? If you haven't tried it before would you like to give it a go? Or is what you are doing working for you already? I'd love to know!

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