Posts Tagged ‘Rule #8: Batch the Little Things’

The rule focused on for Week 8 of the Tranquility by Tuesday challenge was batch the little things. The purpose of this rule is to carve out some time in your schedule to complete little tasks all at once. This time is not meant for daily routines or completing major chores or projects. Instead, it is a small window of time (30-90 minutes) where you could pay a bill, write a message in a birthday card, schedule a doctor’s appointment, or place an online order for coffee. There is no right or wrong way to use this rule; however, key elements to eventually turning this rule into a habit is to keep a running list of tasks and to set aside time to complete them.

Laura Vanderkam calls her running list of small tasks (not urgent) a Friday “punch list.” She allows her small tasks to accumulate over the week and works on them at a designated time on Friday. Gretchen Rubin wrote about a similar “power hour” in her book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habit of Our Everyday Lives. She used her designated time to tackle small one-time tasks that she kept postponing. Her list did not include recurring tasks or tasks with deadlines.

Laura believes “this rule creates two important effects: it forces prioritization, and it keeps little tasks from always being an option (pages 195-196).” In Tranquility by Tuesday, Laura also includes a six-step process to turn this rule into a habit to waste less time.

    Before the week started, I pondered the planning questions for Rule #8 that Laura sent us on Friday, 10 March and made a plan for the week.

    • Think back over the past twenty-four hours. What “small tasks” have made it onto your daily to-do list? What about “small tasks” that you completed as soon as you thought of them, even if you were working on something else at the time? Honestly, I have not been keeping a daily to-do list for a few weeks now. I usually make a note in my planner, write it on a post-it note, or try (HA HA!) to rely on my memory. I have not written anything down in the past twenty-four hours. Sometimes, I will stop and complete a “small task” while working on something else; generally it is a task that takes maybe a minute ot two.
    • How much time, in minutes, do you estimate you spent on these tasks last week? About 180 minutes between two days
    • When could you schedule a time at work each day, or each week, to tackle small work tasks (and any personal tasks that have to happen during business hours)? a Wednesday or Friday morning would be ideal; realistically, right now it is wherever I have a block of time close to the deadline of the task
    • When could you schedule a weekly chore window – perhaps on the weekend or in the evening – to tackle small personal tasks? Saturday or Sunday morning; Monday or Wednesday evening
    • What might prevent you from batching the little tasks in your life? other tasks that are more important or have a more pressing deadline
    • How could you deal with these challenges? right now, I basically squeeze in chunks of time, here or there, to get these little tasks done; I could schedule it with a back-up slot in the event I do not finish or something comes up that needs my attention


    I completed small tasks this week; however, I did not batch them together. I pretty much fit them in between other scheduled projects. I can see the benefit of this rule. I am still struggling with getting to sleep on time; however, there were two nights this week that resulted in me getting home later than usual. I did well with the rest of the rules. Progress!


    • Think back over the past week. What times did you designate for little tasks during your workdays? For this particular week to incorporate this rule, I scheduled Batch the Little Things on Tuesday (mid-day). However, I spent 25 minutes on Monday evening writing a message in a b-day card and addressing the envelope, so I could mail it that evening before going to Books-A-Million ; on Tuesday before lunch, I worked about 15 minutes on a financial task; on Wednesday morning, I spent 45 minutes ordering concert tickets (Stevie Nicks and The Cure)
    • What windows did you designate for household tasks and chores? I designated my household chores on Monday and Wednesday evenings.
    • What effect did you see in your life from batching the little things? Unfortunately, since I did not adhere to this rule in the way it should be implemented, I did not experience the desired effect of spending my time more efficiently.
    • What challenges did you face in trying to batch the little things? My main challenge is the lack of organization currently in my life. I AM OVEREXTENDING MYSELF. I let other activities come first, so then I was squeezing these tasks in last minute; trying to rely on my memory to write the b-day card in a timely manner failed.
    • How did you address these challenges? I did not address them while living it; however, I have a game plan for the future if I implement this rule the way it is intended to work. Make a list of the small tasks with deadline if applicable; schedule the little tasks; honor the time alloted to batch the little things. We shall see if I do better next week.
    • If you modified this rule, how did you do so? I modified this rule by squeezing in small tasks in between other activities or projects.
    • How likely are you to continue batching the little things in your life? I want to say very likely, but until I shed some commitments and get myself organized, I may be a little hit or miss with this rule. I love the concept.
    • Did you observe a bedtime this past week? Not really; I went to sleep three nights by 10:30 p.m. or earlier; two of the early nights (Monday & Tuesday) I read before going to sleep. On Thursday night, I had improv class, got home, showered, and went to sleep. On Friday and Sunday evenings, I attended events where I got home late, so after showering, I went to sleep. I worked on content before bed on Wednesday evening. While I did read before going to sleep on Saturday night, I was having some technical issues with my vlog (music) prior to getting into bed. Even though I did not consistently observe my bedtime, I did NO scrolling before going to sleep any night during this week.
    • Plan on Friday? Not on Friday, but on Saturday morning
    • Move by 3 p.m.? Yes, four times; On three days, I walked outside in my backyard. On Tuesday, I took Tooty for a 45-minute walk around my subdivision.
    • Do your chosen activity three times per week? I read Choose Joy (3-minute devotions) 6 mornings. I got outside for at least 23 minutes, 4 times this week, for the #Outside23in23 Challenge. On Wednesday, I was out earlier in the day to walk and play with Luna in the backyard, and later that evening, Barry and I took both dogs for a 45-minute walk around the subdivision.
    • Create a back-up slot? Yes, I had four back-up slots on Friday evening, Saturday morning, Wednesday afternoon, and Thursday morning/afternoon. I used Friday evening for a big adventure; Saturday morning for planning; Wednesday afternoon for editing my Folklore February video; Thursday morning to upload Folklore February video, and Thursday afternoon for another big adventure.
    • Have one big adventure and one little adventure? YES, two of each. My two big adventures were attending dinner and the play, Sound of Music, with my friend Sue on Friday night AND on Thursday afternoon, hanging out with my friend Michelle (lunch/coffee/conversation) before going to improv class. For my little adventures, on Sunday, my mother-in-law took my hubby, Andrew, and me to lunch at Walk-on’s in Hammond to celebrate my hubby’s b-day with cake at her house afterwards AND on Wednesday night, I attended the Middle Grade March livestream (one hour).
    • Take one night for you? Yes, actually two nights. On Sunday night, I performed at the Level 3 Improv Showcase at the The Actor’s Apothecary in New Orleans. On Thursday night, I attended my weekly improv class (Level 4).

    Only one more rule to go, dear reader! Rule #9 is all about effortful fun before effortless fun. This rule also focuses on wasting less time. As always, I am up for the challenge of trying a new rule along with maintaining the other ones. It will be interesting to see which rules stick once I complete the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge. Happiness!

    “Tasks expand to fill the available space. When we give them less time, they take less time.” ~ Laura Vanderkam

    Note: Photo at the top is by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com.

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