Effective Planning Strategies: Batching Work and Work Sprints (Pomodoro)

black and white photo of clocks

Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back. – Harvey Mackay 

“Teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.”

Psalm 90:12 reminds us to value our time and tend it well because it is a gift of God. Using it well honors the gift.

This is the second of a series of posts on effective planning strategies. These simple strategies work again and again for me and I hope they help you as well.

Today, let’s explore two related strategies- Batching Work and Work Sprints.

Batching Work
Switching from one project/task to another takes more effort than we realize. It takes time to gather supplies and resources for the next project, plus additional time to remember where you are in the project.

Batching work minimizes switching between projects/tasks, saving time and energy. We naturally do this for things like exercise and hygiene so it’s easy to expand this to other parts of our day.

Rather than answering emails throughout the day, you batch that work into one time period. This is equally helpful for returning phone calls, meal preparation, tending to social media, shopping, spiritual practices, reading, etc.

I used to plan two worship services weekly. I’d drag out all my planning resources and reorient myself to the themes. Now I plan four-six weeks in one batch. It’s so much easier and quicker.

Batching work is also helpful for larger projects requiring deep thinking. Setting aside a few hours on a single project creates energy and momentum for brainstorming, decision making, and laying out the steps for implementation.

Work Sprints (Pomodoro Technique)
Batching becomes even more powerful when paired with work sprints. In a work sprint, you set a timer for 25 minutes of uninterrupted work on a single project/task. At the end of the 25 minutes, you take a 5-minute break, then decide if you’re moving on to a different task or staying with the current task.

Work Sprints are also known as the Pomodoro Technique, created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1990s while he was a university student. His timer was a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato, pomodoro in Italian. Be sure to check out the video below, his website, and his book for a deeper explanation of the strategy.

Why I Value Work Sprints

  • It helps me recognize how long I’m spending on one project/task. This keeps my perfectionism in check.
  • It keeps my monkey brain from jumping from project to project and my rabbit brain from chasing distractions.
  • It helps me start a project I’m procrastinating doing because its hard, scary, or new. “It’s only 25 minutes. I can handle this.”
  • It’s fun to race the clock.

Let me know how these strategies work for you. I’d also love to hear what other strategies help you honor God’s gift of time and work. Leave a comment below.

Effective Planning Strategies: Batching Work and Work Sprints
© 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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