I was cleaning out some old notebooks and found a “to do” list I made months ago. I was surprised to see so many things on the list. I was shocked to see some that still haven’t been done!
If you wake up in the middle of the night thinking of things you need to do, afraid you’ll forget something or get a call during the day asking if you’re going to attend a meeting that started a few minutes ago and it’s across town, you need the four D’s of time management.
Making a list is the first step to applying the four D’s. List everything you need to do, regardless of whether it’s business or personal. Then make the first sort. Go down the list and mark each item with a B for business or a P for personal. If you use a spreadsheet, put the task in one column and use the column next to it for the B or the P. Then sort the list and start on the Business Task list.
D#1 – Do. Look at each task on the list. Mark the ones “Do” if they are something you can accomplish yourself in a short amount of time. Then, either do them immediately or schedule them on your calendar. It’s energizing to see all the “Do’s” on your list, since they can be cleared off quickly. Once you’ve completed a task, physically check it off the list. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment.
D#2 – Delay. This may sound like procrastination, but it is a deliberate decision to delay a task until you are ready. These are tasks that you may need to research, need approval for, or need more money. We often load up our lists with things that don’t need immediate attention. It’s overwhelming. Too many things add stress. Purposely delay those things that aren’t “on fire” to give yourself time to “Do” the necessary tasks.
D#3 – Delegate. Office staffs are getting very lean. I used to teach classes in delegation, and the most frequent comment was that delegation was a great idea but there was no one to delegate to. With so many online services, delegation takes on a whole new meaning. I recently found someone to create a great new logo for my business. This was something I had on my “Do” list for so long. It was such a relief to turn it over to a designer I found on the Internet, and they did a fabulous job in a week’s time. Look for those things you can delegate to someone else. If it’s not your area of expertise or interest, delegate it.
D#4 – Dump. The last “D” is the best. It could be either Dump or Don’t. Don’t do it. If an item has been on your list for over six months, ask yourself if it really need to be done at all. If it’s something that’s a wish or dream or you know you’re not going to ever do it, like write that novel or clean out the attic, take it off the list. If it needs to be done or you have an immediate need later on, you can add it back. Things that just hang around undone can be discouraging. The list never gets completed. Dump the task and focus on the other three “D’s.”