The ‘Four-D’ Time Management Trick to Boost Your Efficiency
Time is our most precious personal resource. Once we spend it, we’ll never get it back.
As busy entrepreneurs, we seem to have less time than anyone else, so it just makes sense to look for opportunities to use our time more wisely.
One technique has worked for many. It’s called the ‘Four-Ds’ of Time Management.
What are the Four Ds?
There are four actions you can take to address the many tasks you have on your plate:
- Do it.
- Delegate it.
- Delay it.
- Delete it.
As you approach each task on your to-do list, ask yourself which one of the four Ds applies.
The first option is simply to do the task yourself. Get it done and check it off your list so it’s out of the way. This is often the best option if it’s urgent, important, or if you are the only one with the experience and training to do it.
It might sound counterintuitive at first, but doing a task might not be the best option. Let’s look at the other three options.
If your to-do list is full of simple, routine actions, then delegating is a strong choice. Delegating is also a wise choice for tasks beyond your skill set that would take time away from your core work. If you don’t have time to do everything yourself, getting help is a smart alternative.
But getting help doesn’t mean you have to hire a full-time employee. You can get help in a multitude of ways:
- Engage a company to do the task. From walking dogs to managing Google Ad campaigns to handling your bookkeeping and taxes, there are companies like ours that would be delighted to help!
- Automation is a form of delegation. Can software do what you are doing?
- Find someone on Fiverr.com or UpWork. You can hire someone for a five-minute task or a five-day task. Find them on any website that lists freelancers for hire.
- Hire someone. Plenty of people are looking for part-time jobs (just in case you don’t have enough work for a full-time person).
If you can write instructions on how to perform the task, you can delegate it. And if you’re worried about losing control or quality, simply add milestones to check the person’s work. Initially, it might not be faster, but in the long term, it will pay off.
If a task is not urgent or important, delaying it might be the right option. The problem with this option is that you have to handle the task at least twice: once when reviewing it and deciding whether to do it, and again when you finally decide to do it.
If you keep deciding to delay the task, you’ve handled it more than twice. Not only can this take up precious time, but it can also be a drain on your energy when you see the incomplete task on your to-do list.
However, there are times when delaying a task is best:
- When it’s not urgent and you have other urgent items to attend to.
- When it’s not important at the moment.
- When you can prioritize other more profitable tasks first.
- When the task is best done in batches.
Here’s an example of that last point: Rather than answer each email as it comes in, think about blocking out time in your day specifically to check and clear your email. You can apply this time-batching concept to just about everything to gain efficiency—posting on social media (write and schedule a month of content in advance), returning phone calls, attending meetings (book them all on one day and keep other days clear), and running errands (delay until you have three to four errands and do them all in one run).
Be careful of delaying a task repeatedly. Something else may be going on with your mindset:
- The task may be uncomfortable for you (find someone who loves to do what you don’t and delegate).
- The process of getting started is ambiguous (get the right training or find someone experienced to shorten your learning curve).
Some tasks should never get added to your to-do list in the first place. When there is no return on investment for a task, perhaps the best choice is to delete it.
Take a look at some of the things you do out of habit. Does it still make sense to do those tasks, or are you doing them simply because that’s the way it’s always been?
Do, Delegate, Delay, Delete
Give the ‘Four-Ds’ of Time Management a try and you’ll get an instant boost in efficiency and productivity. Let us know how it goes!
Looking for someone to delegate your business finances to? Reach out and let’s talk!