Feeling always busy and overloaded, but not necessarily productive? Enter 4 Ds of time management to prioritize your tasks accordingly.
When you’re burdened with multiple tasks, it’s easy to lose motivation and even lead yourself to burnout. Very often, the problem is poor time control and lack of prioritization. The good news is that you can optimize your work by using an effective time management technique.
Below we will describe the 4 Ds of time management, also called the 4 Ds of productivity, - a time management strategy that simplifies the decision-making process and improves your time management.
The four Ds of time management is a task prioritization technique you can use to complete your tasks with maximum efficiency. This technique consists in classifying assignments into four groups based on their importance, which helps determine how you should deal with each of them.
We don’t know for sure who created the 4 Ds of time management. In her book “Career Comeback: Taking Charge of Your Career”, Jacquie Wise mentions that the concept was earlier described by a time management specialist Daniel Johnson.
This time management technique is based on the Eisenhower Matrix – a tool that helps you organize your tasks by importance and urgency, developed by the 34th President of the United States Dwight Eisenhower.
So let’s take a closer look at this framework.
The 4 ds of the management template consists of the following elements:
It can be surprising but some of the tasks on our to-do list are not worth doing at all. In this case, you can feel free not to work on them. The problem is that it’s often hard to decide right away what tasks are unimportant.
To make sure you discard only unnecessary tasks, carefully review your routine.
What can be deleted:
For whom it works best:
For freelancers who tend to take on too much work and then struggle to try to accomplish it on time.
Who said you need to do all the tasks by yourself? You can always delegate important tasks. So pick a person who’s the most skilled to accomplish the assignment and make sure that person is available.
For some people, delegating may be challenging. If you’re a perfectionist, you may have issues trusting other people to do a serious job. However, giving people a chance to take on more responsibility empowers them and lets them demonstrate different skills, like leadership and technical ones.
What can be delegated:
For whom it work best:
For managers who can delegate less complex tasks to their subordinates.
You don't have to do all your tasks immediately. On your to-do list, are there any non-urgent tasks? If yes, do them later.
Delaying is not the same as procrastination. With procrastination, you avoid doing what’s necessary. While delaying, you know that you will get back to your task when it’s more convenient to you.
You can use this technique when, for example, you’re still working on another thing that got you in a state of flow – in this case, you should never interrupt yourself but rather let your mind work to the fullest.
You can also delay important tasks which you know will require more research and resources, which you cannot afford at the moment.
What can be delayed:
For whom it works best:
For the members of big teams, since they typically are in charge of many interrelated tasks, which, however, may not be urgent.
This one is the simplest part of the 4ds time management technique – you just take on a task and do it. This concerns the most urgent tasks, like:
For whom it works best:
For small teams who work on specific tasks.
Managers are typically overwhelmed with everyday tasks, as they have multiple responsibilities and play different managerial roles. They organize teams, make plans, control performance, and inspire people to produce the best results. This takes a lot of effort, and is time-consuming.
But time is not a renewable resource. This is why project managers should take a productive time management approach, and the 4 Ds of time management is one of the most efficient strategies.
The value of the 4 Ds is obvious. Prioritizing your tasks, you increase productivity, save resources, and consequently, produce better work results.
However, this technique is not perfect. Firstly, it requires you to make quick decisions, which can sometimes be wrong. Secondly, in some situations, you don’t have control over a particular task – for example, when your boss tells you to respond to all messages immediately or attend all the meetings, you don’t have much of a choice.
To classify your tasks into the 4 groups, use the two categories: urgency and importance. Think about what your goal is, and make a to-do list.
Then organize these tasks according to the following principle:
To make the time management process more effective and maintain focus, keep track of it in a journal – this would let you see if you spend your time with use.
The 4 Ds of project management is a great tool that can help you make sound decisions and achieve your goals with less effort. To use your time wisely, you don’t have to develop big strategies – just set priorities and work on your time management skills. It’s accessible, quick, and effective.
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