Use the 4D model. Do it, Delegate it, Delay it or Delete it. Fast way to
I posted the quote above on Mark Strong Coaching Facebook just a week before 2012 began. It seemed to hit a nerve in the life coaching community, as preparing for the start of a new year can be a recipe for overwhelm.
Now only a few weeks into the journey, with your sights set on the next 11 months and your hopes and dreams for this particular year, you may still be feeling overwhelmed. You may be wondering what you can do to simplify your life in the weeks ahead.
I’ve found a simple solution that I share with my life coaching and executive clients: use the 4Ds for every item on your to-do list. In other words, for each thing that you feel you must do this year, you should assign it to one of the following four categories:
Do it. If there’s something that really needs to be done, the best thing to do is just to do it the sooner, the better. The problem comes when you have so many things that need to be done, that you don’t have time to tackle each as it arises. This can lead to procrastination of certain items, which may languish for too long on your list, taking up valuable mental space because they’re still on your plate.
In this case, a little scheduling can help power you through the backlog. Instead of simply keeping an item on your list that you know you must do, create a calendar item for it, just like any other appointment. If it’s something that must wait for the weekend, then pick an actual day and time slot when you’ll get this task done and then do it.
Delegate it. Some things must get done, but don’t necessarily need your personal touch. Because there’s only one of you and only so many hours that you’re awake and productive each day, you need to save your time for the highest-priority items that only you can do. For everything else that needs prompt action but could be done by someone other than you, consider delegating it.
How do you know what makes sense to delegate? People often delegate tasks that are more clerical in nature. If it isn’t of strategic importance to your business or doesn’t call on your core talents and skills, you can save time for what matters by delegating the rest.
Delay it. Doing nothing is actually doing something. Deciding not to take action right away is a valid decision. If something is on your list that you don’t yet know how to handle, the best response might be to delay it. By doing so, you allow time for additional information to unfold that might help you make a smarter decision. However, a caveat: you need to be sure that your desire to delay action is truly a strategic move rather than procrastination.
Delete it. It’s a fact that you may never complete every item on your lengthy to-do list. If you find that you keep delaying a certain task while moving no closer to a decision about doing it or delegating it, it may be time to press the delete button.
As circumstances change, some items that you once thought were critical may become lower priority, and may no longer be necessary to do. If you stay open and flexible, you’ll be in a better position to assess every item on your list, and remove the ones that are no longer relevant.