Work Wiser #6: 4D Time Management

Hello, my name is Wan How. I’m a career and project management coach. We’re now in January and many of you would have made new year resolutions. If you have not, consider this one: becoming better at time management. Many of us are working from home and there’s less of a barrier between work and home, and we may find ourselves “living at work” instead of “working from home.” One way to shift this back into a better balance is to use time management as that boundary between work and home.

More than a decade ago, I read an article in a PMI magazine about a simple method of time management called 4D. The whole idea is to go through your list and ask yourself whether you can drop something, defer something, delegate something, or you must do this thing. Once you’ve` filtered your to-do list with these four options, you’ll have a shorter more focused list.

The first D is to drop or delete. So as you scan your list, ask yourself, “can you stop doing this item?” or “can you drop it from the list because it’s been there for such a long time and it’s always on a low priority, so you’ll probably never get to it. You can also try and drop things ahead. There are some things you no longer need to do or some process that’s no longer relevant because you have progressed and that no longer solves a problem. There are some meetings that don’t have to take place so regularly or is there a report that’s no longer needed. Ask yourself these questions and see if you can drop items that have made it to your list.

The second D is to defer so if something is not urgent and you’re in a time crunch. Deferred into the future. We also did that in December.

The third D is to delegate. Now some people have difficulty delegating tasks because they feel that the person doing it won’t do as good of a job. One rule of thumb that I came across is to delegate if that person can do the job 70% as well as you can. But the whole idea is to not let that remain at 70%, but for you to train and guide that person to gradually boost it up to 100% and so that’s an opportunity for you to learn to break down your skill or your to-dos into step-by-step instructions and also to produce a checklist to make sure nothing gets missed. and that work is up to a certain quality and also an opportunity for you to coach and train a person as you delegate that task.

Finally, once you’ve dropped everything that you can deferred everything that you can and delegated everything that you can, you must do the final few things that’s on your list. So hopefully once you’ve gone through these four filters, your to-do list for the day is really short, really focused and you can heave a sigh of relief. Thank you for watching and have a happy drop, defer, delegate, and do day.