One of the cornerstones of Red Urchin and in fact any effective time management system is the first level filtering on incoming information. It is the fundamental, critical, compulsory first piece of the puzzle…enter the 4D’s
Information surrounds us every day and currently bombards us from more and more sources. From personal interaction, phones, meetings, email, instant messaging etc, and entrenched in that information are tasks. Tasks can be a number of different types as discussed in Red Urchin Balance but regardless of the type or source of the task it is the foundation of our time management system that we need to filter these incoming tasks to effectively manage them within our system.
When a task comes in, you need to quickly assess how you are going to action it. To do this we apply the Red Urchin 4D question.
The 4 D’s of Time Management
- 1st D – Do It – Do it now and move on
- 2nd D – Decide When – Decide when I am going to do this task. Is it today, is it tomorrow, is it a week Thursday?
- 3rd D – Delegate – Delegate this to someone else but make sure you track it in your “Due from Others” section
- 4th D – Delete – Its not a task it is just noise…delete it and move on
It is a simple and quick process and with practice you will be able to do it habitually, fast and accurately.
On an incoming task ask your self these series of questions?
- Does this task actually need to be done? (this is very important, you will be surprised how much is just noise)
- If no, delete it and move on (the 4th D).
- If yes, then 2. Do you personally need to do this task?
- If no, then delegate it (the 3rd D).
- If yes, then 3. When am I going to or when do I need to do it?
- Either do it right then and there (the 1st D) and move on or schedule at some point in the future (The 2nd D).
If you Delete or Do It Now you can remove the task from your visibility, but if you Decide or Delegate you need to write it down. When you write tasks down you get them out of your head (See Writing things down! NOW!). You also may need to access the information about that task to complete it or monitor it. This is where the Reference field comes in an using holding folders/trays etc. Read Using a container system and Using the Reference Field for information on using the Reference field and The Art of Delegation for tips and tricks on Delegating tasks effectively.
The 4D’s…critical first level filter. If you get this right, the rest of the system becomes much more streamlined and accurate.