I am looking at a few of my favorite productivity techniques, with stories and explanations. Lolly Daskal is a leadership coach. She spends much of her time meeting with clients and dealing with their needs. However, to maintain the Lolly Brand — so potential clients can see her and think of her as a thought leader — she also writes for a number of business publications. She is quite prolific. We are talking dozens of articles per month here.
Where does she find the time to write all this? “I always try to find the best solution that takes the least amount of time with the most results,” she says. “I teach batching to my clients,” so that is what she does too.
Once a month, she carves out a long weekend: Friday, Saturday, Sunday. “I think about all the things my clients are talking about, what they have spoken with me about,” she says. “What were the problems presented? I make a list. What were some of the solutions we came up with? What really worked, what did not work?” She creates an Excel spreadsheet with these problems and solutions.
Then she gets to work writing “short and concise” pieces that fit with her brand. “My motto is be of service,” she says. Sometimes she is able to crank things out in a few minutes. Sometimes she is not. But the good news about batching is that you are never really stuck. “If one is not working, I will move on to the next,” she says. Or she will go for a walk or a run and then get back on track.
Since she is in a writing mindset all weekend, she does not spend a lot of time getting in and out of writing mode. And since she is working on all her posts for the month at once, she can explore themes. “It comes out as a very unified message,” she says. The batching method is not always easy, but “by Monday morning, they are done,” she says. “The rest of the month is being there for my clients.”
I have been exploring how to do some more batching in my life. Daskal has three kids, but they are now grown. She knows that carving out a long solo weekend would not have been so easy when they were little. That said, I wrote this post on Monday while the three big kids were on a trip with Daddy and the baby was with our nanny. I wrote a number of other posts at the same time. My editors often approve batches of article ideas at once, so there is no reason not to write all the pieces one week, and then leave open space for bigger projects. Of course, first I need to figure out what the bigger project is in order to feel motivated to do that!
A version of this post appeared on Laura Vanderkam’s website where she writes about strategically managing time between her work and family.