Four D’s to free up 20% of your time

December 2nd, 2015 by John Gallagher No Comments

 

 

Have you ever really sat down and looked at your schedule and it felt so overwhelming that you just wanted to ‘give up’, delete it all and start over?

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As leaders, we often find it difficult to say ‘no’ to people for many reasons.  Mostly because we really don’t want to upset anyone, but a lot of times, it is because everything seems important.  Well, is it really?  Here is an exercise you can do to help you understand if you have the right things on your calendar.  I have often referred to it as the “4 D’s”

  1. Delegate
  2. Defer
  3. Deselect
  4. Do-it!

Make a list of all of the things you think you must do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.  With that list in hand, ask your self the following four questions for each item:

  1. Can I DELEGATE this item to someone else to do?  Often we don’t delegate because “it will take me more time to train someone so I will do it myself”, or “I want it done a certain way so I must do it” – Both of these reasons are signs of poor leadership.  One of the best ways to develop others is to give them valuable tasks to grow, so Delegate more.
  2. Can I DEFER this item?  Is it REALLY the most important thing you need to be doing at this time?  Can it wait 30 days, 60 days, 90 days?  Often it can.  Put a reminder on your calendar for 90 days out.  Maybe it won’t be as important then
  3. Can I DESELECT this item? Have you been doing something for so long (a meeting, a report, a task) that you just do it because you always have?  Maybe you don’t need to do it anymore at all.  DESELECTING is the most difficult task of leadership.  A good friend has told me many times, “You can do anything you want, you just can’t do everything you want”
  4. I guess I must DO it? – If your answer to the first 3 questions is NO, then you must do it!  Put it on the calendar and make it happen.  The challenge here is to do the task with the least non-value-added activity.  Can I automate it?  Can I be more efficient at it?  Improve the task.

Go through this process about every 90 days.  If you haven’t freed up 20% of your time, then you are not being critical enough of the tasks.  Go back through it again?

What about you?  How do you make sure your schedule doesn’t get overburdened?  Try this exercise and let me know how it goes.