I first learned about “batching” in 2018 when I hired a business coach. My then boyfriend had dumped me at the beginning of that year because “I seemed to have no direction in life,” so hiring that coach was part of my “find myself” process, post-breakup. Definitely motivated by the hope that he’d want to get back together with me if I got my shit together well enough, but thankfully it ended up just being the start of my self-help and creative entrepreneur journey.
Batching was one of this coach’s favorite productivity techniques. It’s when you group likeminded tasks together so that you stay more in flow and your brain doesn’t have to switch between activities as much. It’s a very efficient way to work. For whatever reason, this is the only thing that stuck with me, out of everything I learned from her.
And it’s been honestly kind of fucking me up ever since.
It has never actually felt good to batch my work, yet I remained stubbornly fixated on the concept, trying to cram myself inside a mold. When I realized I was autistic, I tried to reinforce the incorporation of batching into my life, due to the idea that task switching is something many autistic people struggle with.
But batching made me feel dead inside, working on the same task without pause, like a machine. It felt soul killing. I wanted to do everything, every day. Or at least give myself the freedom to do the things I wanted each day.
Maybe it works for “content creators” (BARF), but it definitely doesn’t work for me as an author.
I want the freedom to be able to put hands on all my projects and interests throughout the day. Which sounds kind of ADHD and impractical. But it’s what makes me and my brain happy.
Lauren Sapala, author of Firefly Magic, talks about why INFP writers (aka, yours truly) have so much trouble finishing writing projects. She says that INFP’s like to flit between projects like a butterfly and it’s best if they have 3-5 projects going at one time.
That’s honestly how I seem to work the best. I like to work on something until I get bored and then move to a different project. Not “move on” as in abandon it completely. Just set it aside until later that day or the next day. But I hate working on something hours on end (unless I’m in serious flow, the kind where I forget to eat), because it completely drains my energy.
It makes me happy doing a little bit of progress on each project. Of staying in the loop every day with what I have going on. I LIKE TO TOUCH EVERYTHING I LOVE EVERY DAY.
It feels very fractured to do something like, write on Monday’s and Tuesdays, edit on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s, market and product develop on Friday’s.
Even just writing that sentence made my stomach feel sick. That’s just a gross way to live, imo.
“If I don’t write every day, the characters begin to stale off in my mind—they begin to seem like characters instead of real people. The tale’s narrative cutting edge starts to rust and I begin to lose my hold on the story’s plot and pace.”
—Stephen King, On Writing
I want to put my hands on all my projects, to remind myself of what’s all there. To stay familiar with it.
As long as I give myself the freedom to do this, stop shaming myself for being “inefficient,” then I’ll be able to finish projects in a much happier state of being. And supposedly this will help me finish projects quicker, because it’ll help me avoid burnout.
I think it’s good to have a lot of projects going at once so you can bounce between them. When you get sick of one project, move over to another, and when you’re sick of that one, move back to the project you’ve left. Practice productive procrastination.
—Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist
Since fully giving myself permission to bounce around during my working day, I’ve actually been more productive. I’ve started chess lessons. I began going on walks again. I’m doing tiny shitty little comics. I’m working on clearing a space in my room to set up my brother’s piano keyboard, and I’ll go to the library soon to get some sheet music printed.
It feels really good. Whenever I feel burnt out on a project, I just settle my eyes on something interesting and regain energy through that. (No scrolling or random videos allowed though—that’s key!) I don’t have to dedicate huge chunks of time to my various interests or sit down for eight hours a day to work on my writing.
I feel productive, motivated, energetic, and I’m satisfying my insatiable curiosity for learning and experiencing new things.
I believe there’s always a way to do something that feels good, even if it goes against the “standard” or “expert” way. What’s most important is what you can get your enthusiasm and energy behind.
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