Batching Tasks to Save Time

Apr 21

Batching Tasks to Save Time

This was originally published on July 1, 2014

 

We all have several time sucks in our day and when we’re trying to run businesses and have families we’re always up for some time saving tips. That’s why I like to batch process several of the tasks that I do.

The term “batch processing” originally was a computer term that meant having the computer handle several files at one time or processing a group of transactions at once instead of handling each file, or task, one at a time.  Batch processing is compared to “transaction processing” which is handling one thing at a time.

An example of this would be listing on eBay. There are several steps to creating a listing from scratch and it can be time consuming. I’ve read of new eBay sellers that say, “It takes forever to do a listing. I have to take the picture, research the item, create the listing, type the description, etc. How can I save time?”

The answer is batch processing, not transaction processing.

Tips on Batch Processing eBay Tasks

Start with the items you’re planning to list. Gather together a group of books, a group of shirts, a group of toys. This way you’ll be able to use the “sell similar” tool to help with the listings.

Don’t do one listing at a time. Instead, gather your group of similar items, take the photos, measurements and other information you need. Use a notebook to write out item specifics, damage, labeling and sizes for your items. Keep all of this together in one place.

Photos are great to batch together. I’ve shared how I take photos with my phone camera, sync them to DropBox, then have them automatically downsized with Wappwolf. I still need to go in and do some cropping, but I don’t have to hunt down the USB cord for a camera, digitize the photos, crop and resize. They’re already digitized and backed up for me. I’m then able to select the ones I want from DropBox, download to my computer, and then spend an hour or two cropping and doing any further resizing.

(2015 update – I now use my phone to take photos and do listings. I do list one thing at a time this way, but photos are done all at once. I do still batch these by trying to list similar items and I get the measurements all done at one time. This saves time when writing out the description.)

I have a format I follow when I do my listings. That way I always know what I need to include. I also copy / paste my shipping and payment information instead of retyping it for every listing. All I have to do is fill in my format / template from the information sheet I have for the item.

When it’s time to list, since all the items in the group are similar items, all I need to do is click “sell similar” when I’m ready to start a new listing. My template is there, the shipping is already set up. Be sure to double check all fields, though, to make sure you’ve got the right information on the new listing.

Amazon Tasks to Batch Process

All of my Amazon tasks seem to be batched. I do all my listing at one time into a shipping plan. I usually list 30 items into a shipment.

I print the Avery 30 up labels, then I label all the items together.

I don’t separate them into shipments until the labeling is done and I find out which warehouses Amazon wants to send the items to.

Other Tasks to Batch Process

Email – Don’t answer one email at a time. Instead, choose 2-3 times during the day to check and respond to your email. Turn off the notifications on your phone and computer and only check your email during your set time frame.

Social Media – I’m on Facebook all the time. I’ve had to get to where I just turn my phone over so I don’t see the notification light. Instead, I give myself small breaks during the day to check Facebook and read and reply to posts.

Paperwork – Gather all items from your inbox, set a timer, and go through each one and make a decision about it. Do you need it? Does it need to be filed? Do you have to fill it out or work on it? Is it a reminder or information? Make a decision, then do whatever needs to be done with the paper. Fill out the form, put the date in your calendar, file it then or, if the file cabinets are somewhere else, place it aside until it’s time to file. Then file everything at the same time.

Housework – Get all the dishes done at one time. Vacuum all the floors. Do all the laundry. Don’t keep switching from one thing to another.

(2015 update – I also batch process blog posts. I typically write all of my blog posts and list emails for the following week on Tuesday and Wednesday.)

Do you have tasks that you’ve started to batch process? What are they and how is it working? Let me know in the comments or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

3 comments

  1. I love the idea of batching online tasks … especially email which I tend to either spend to long on or ignore completely.

    For the other tasks like house-blessing + social media, I use a timer to keep me on track so I don’t get distracted.

    Your tips on ebay are very timely as I dive in there for the first time, so thank you for that.

  2. Such a great idea! I use lists all of the time, but don’t necessarily do batch processing.

  3. Thank you for the tips. I always have good intentions, but fall short. The batching tips may just be the key was I was needing.

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