The 4 D’s Approach to Getting Things Done

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed with things you need to get done?The 4 D's Approach

You and thousands others!

And what tends to happen is, we lose all our productivity.  Instead of working through things, we get distracted. Perhaps you find something easier to take your attention away, and your list continues to grow.

There is, however, a solution, which I was reminded of by a client recently.  It’s the 4 D’s approach.

Let me explain.

The 4 D’s Approach

When we arrive at our desk, our work-place, or our computer, we generally have a list of things to be done. For instance,  a ‘to do’ list, a mental list, or a list of emails.

Your thoughts might typically be “this is too much, I don’t know where to start”, or “let’s find the easiest thing I can do”, or “I think I’ll just grab a cup of coffee”. Sounds familiar?

Instead, have a go at this:

  • Do it
  • Defer it
  • Delegate it
  • Delete it

One at a time, check the items on your list against the 4 D’s above.

If the task can be done quickly, in less than 2 minutes, get it done. Just do it. (Doesn’t that feel good!)

If it can’t, work out if it needs more of your time, in which case, defer it. That means scheduling time in your calendar. Note down when you will come back to it with your full attention eg Tuesday 30th 10am for 1 hour. Block specific time out to do the task, so you, and those around you, know when it will happen.

If it is better done by some else other than you, delegate it. Choose who best to do the task, then ask them to do so. Note in your calendar when you will follow up with them.

If it is not important, delete it (or file it for information, if appropriate). This means it is not important enough to warrant your time or anyone else’s spent on it, now or later.

4 D’s – Do, Defer, Delegate, Delete

Allocate 30 minutes of your time, up to 3 times a day perhaps, to go through the system above, and you too can get things done productively.

The approach is spelt out in more detail by David Allen in his book Getting Things Done.

You can even use this approach for getting things done around the house.

And if you like to keep a ‘to do’ list, have a read of my article To Do List v Will Do List, for some more tips.

Let me know how you get on. I’m rooting for you!


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