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4D Time Management: Delete, Delegate, Defer, Do

What is eating up your time? I find interruptions and distractions keep me from my most important work. Most come in the form of emails and phone calls. Have you heard of the 4Ds? Before responding to any request, filter them through the 4Ds, a simple yet effective time management method:

  1. Delete (or drop). Scan through all your emails for unwanted emails. I can usually delete half or more of my emails without opening them. I am especially brutal when I return from vacation and have to go through a backlog of emails.
  2. Delegate. If someone else can perform a task at least two-thirds as well as you, delegate it. You are not limited to delegating downwards to those who report to you. You can also delegate across departments, horizontally to your peers and even upwards. If you find you don’t have anyone to delegate to, can you start training someone or outsource the task?
  3. Defer. Some tasks can be done later, but no later than the last responsible moment. (This applies especially to agile methods.) Due to the ever changing environment we live in, some tasks become obsolete if we defer them.
  4. Do. Buckle down and get the task done. But before I start working on something, I prioritize my tasks so I only work on one thing at a time. I try not to start on something else that adds to my work-in-progress pile until I finish a current assignment.

This sounds great. But can you make it into a habit? It takes a minimum of 21 days to start a new habit. To help you succeed, I have created the 4Ds Time Management email seminar that will send you a daily reminder. You only receive it on Tuesdays to Fridays and can unsubscribe at any time. This email series ends after 21 emails. Here’s what you will receive from the OLW 4Ds Time Management series:

  1. Delete: Not-to-dos
  2. Delete: Stop doing
  3. Delete: You don’t have to
  4. Delete: Stop completing surveys
  5. Delete: Drop that call
  6. Delete: Stop starting
  7. Delegate: Outsource, batch and automate
  8. Delegate: Identify a task to delegate
  9. Delegate: Breakdown the task
  10. Delegate: Create a checklist
  11. Delegate: Find someone who can do it
  12. Delegate: Train
  13. Defer: When do you need this by?
  14. Defer Decisions
  15. Defer Ahead
  16. Defer Together
  17. Do Prioritize
  18. Do One Thing at a Time
  19. Do Estimate
  20. Do Develop Cadence
  21. Do Start Starting

Get the book: Master 4D Time Management book on Amazon.