We have covered a number of time management tips in various articles. In this article, let’s have a quick look at the 4 D’s of time management and how they can help you to be more time efficient. This is something we discuss in more details during the live NLP life coaching training.
What are the 4 D’s of Time Management?
Simply put, they are do, delete, defer or delegate.
Check whether the thing requires your attention or is worth your time. If it does not, then simply delete it. An example would be looking at all the email one gets during the day. See which of them are spam or something that you really have no interest in. If you are unsure, then in Outlook as an example, you can have a preview of the emails. Simply bulk delete all the emails that are trash.
If there are some emails that are not important to attend to right now, but you would like to have a look at them later, then you can defer them and move on. Always ask yourself if this particular thing is worth your time. Is it necessary to spend any of your time on it? Remember the Perato principle (80/20 rule) and that often people spend 80% of their time on activities that are a waste of time.
Is it important or necessary for you to do the task? Is it your responsibility to do? If the answer is no, then delegate it. You might still be ultimately responsible for the task being done, example having your accounts done for year end. So the buck stops with you. However it is better to delegate the task of getting the accounts done to the accountant. This is true for many of the everyday tasks that people get involved in. Often people choose to do certain tasks as they are easier or a way of keeping busy and not getting to doing what is really important.
There is a fine line between delegation and abdication. Ensure that there is some measure in place to check that the task has been completed by the person to whom you have delegated. At the same time empower them to do the task and be understanding if the task has not been completed in quite the way you would have done it yourself. Delegating does not just have to be to subordinates. You can delegate across, upwards and to other departments as well. We will look at delegating in more detail in another article.
I think it was Brian Tracey who spoke about the one touch rule. If a task can be completed there and then in a few minutes, then just do it. Provided of course it is not a task to delete, delegate or defer. In other words if it is important for you to do and you have the time to do it, then get it done straight away. Postponing important tasks often leads to procrastination or feelings of anxiety or stress.
You have seen people who paper shuffle. They start with a task and then get side tracked and start with another, then come back to the first and at the end of the day they were busy, but not productive. Think of when you start your car on a cold morning. You need to let it idle to get warm before you just drive it. In the same way each time you pick up or start a task, it takes some time to get into it or get your head around what needs doing. So if you don’t complete the task, then you go through that cycle again each time you pick it up, as such wasting time. If it is worth your time, then focus your time and efforts on that one task and get it done and move on.
There are some tasks that come across your desk that you may just not be able to deal with straight away. It might be an email about booking a family holiday. It is not important during your working day, but is important to get done. So you can defer it and look at the email later in your free time.
Similarly, you might need to meet with a team member to discuss how they can achieve better results in their sales. A very important task, yet it might be able to wait until the sales meeting in a few days. That way you can spend the time until then planning the sales meeting and getting the things done that are more important at that particular point in time.
It might also be that the task is one that can’t be completed quickly and is not of a high priority at that time and as such you can simply defer it. You might even find that some of the tasks that you defer could become obsolete and be deleted.
How can you implement the 4 D’s of time management?
A great way to implement this is to look at your to do list on a daily basis. See which tasks need to be deleted, done, delegated or deferred. Then also do that with each task that comes across your desk during the day. You may find some tasks that stay on your to do list, which you keep on moving on to another day. Ask yourself if that task really is important for you to do. Chances are it may not be. Thus again by deleting or delegating, you can free yourself from that task that might just have been sucking your time. Similarly it might be a task that you are just procrastinating on. Then ask yourself what it is about the task that keeps you from just doing it. We can look at some ways of overcoming procrastination in another article.
As always, if you need help with any issues in your business or personal life, then please feel free to reach out. We are always happy to help.
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