Ever have a task that piles up and never gets done?
This last weekend I got the chance to purge a stack of accumulated paperwork. Mostly mail that had come in over the course of the last month or so, that hadn’t been opened or dealt with.
In my case, I pay all my bills online. I have a spreadsheet that tells me when things are due, so the paperwork that shows up in the mail is an important thing to have for my records – but doesn’t need to be dealt with immediately.
So I fired up my scanner, turned on my shredder, and went through the stack. All said and done, I did about a month worth of mail and papers in 30-45 minutes.
The Benefits Of The Backlog
I did this in 30-45 minutes, but I’d been letting the papers pile up in a stack for about a month. You might be asking, “why not just do them as they come in?”
The thing is, the process of walking over to the desk, sitting down, getting the scanner pulled out, getting the computer ready to scan, etc. probably takes about 5 minutes of that 30-45 minutes. So 25-40 minutes left. When you figure there was a little over a month worth of mail, that’s about a minute per day.
But if I’d done it every day, it would be 6 minutes per day – because I’d be repeating the 5 minutes for setup every day!
Some Serious Time Savings
When you do the math, that means 180 minutes to “stay on top of things”, or 30-45 minutes to batch at the end of the month. The difference between the two options is over two hours.
It doesn’t seem like that much, but when you add up the incremental time plus the guilt some people experience for not doing it every day, it can be a huge savings of both time and sanity!
The key here is that the backlog be reasonable, and at least somewhat intentional. Not doing laundry until you’re wearing the clothes that are too small and don’t even fit you anymore probably isn’t a reasonable backlog. But spending a week or two accumulating a good-sized pile, and then spending a day running everything through, is a perfectly valid strategy.
So What’s Up With The Cookies?
You’ve gotten this far, and I’m sure you want to know why I used a picture of cookies at the top of the article. Here’s why.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, makes one cookie – unless it’s a huge, pizza-sized cookie! Everybody makes cookies in batches.
Because you’re already getting out the flour, the chocolate chips, the butter, and everything else. It doesn’t take much more time to make a batch of cookies than it would take to make a single cookie. In fact, it doesn’t take much more time to make even a double or a triple batch of cookies than it would take to make a regular batch of cookies.
So here’s how you put that cookie knowledge to work. When you make your triple batch of chocolate chip cookies, only bake one batch. Freeze the rest of the dough in slightly-flattened dough balls. Then some night when you’re hungry for cookies, pull out three or four, put them on a small baking pan, and bake as you would for the regular cookie recipe.
Maybe you can do it as your reward for finishing your paperwork!
What About You?
Do you use creative backlogs or batching to save time, money, or stress? If so, I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!