The Four Ds of Time Management

The Four Ds of Time Management is a strategy that helps an individual discern whether a task or project is worth an investment of time. The four Ds comprise Do, Defer (Delay), Delegate, and Delete (Drop).

Understanding The Four Ds of Time Management 

Time management is important to any business, regardless of the industry or methodology concerned. The internet and social media has created a workplace culture that encourages constant engagement. In turn, this takes valuable time away from critical tasks that contribute to the bottom line.

Time management is particularly important for managerial staff who must sort through a multitude of demands and requests daily. In fact, the ability of a manager to prioritize tasks ensures that initiatives, projects, and indeed organizations continue to move in the right direction.

The Four Ds of Time Management encourages individuals to use their time wisely by aligning tasks with personal or organizational goals. It is a similar approach to the Eisenhower Box but without the visual aid of a matrix.

In business, it is said that time is money. How can individuals help businesses avoid losing this valuable resource?

The four categories of The Four Ds of Time Management

Before acting on a specific request, this framework encourages the individual to filter the request according to one of four categories:

  1. Do – these are tasks that take a few minutes to complete and therefore build momentum toward completing larger projects. Examples include answering emails or returning an important client phone call.
  2. Defer (Delay) – as the name suggests, these tasks are better off being temporarily paused. In other words, they don’t need to be completed right away and should be scheduled accordingly. For example, a manager who has a meeting at the end of the month should not spend any time weeks beforehand organizing invites or creating an agenda. The same can be said for emails that have just landed in an inbox. If they are not urgent, they can be addressed at another time.
  3. Delegate – the ability to delegate tasks to others is an often-overlooked skill of good time management. Many choose not to delegate because of a perceived lack of control or resources. But whatever the reason, the reality is that most tasks can be delegated to others. Any task that has to be completed but is a waste of the individual’s skill or expertise should be delegated to someone else.
  4. Delete (Drop) – deleting tasks means being ruthless with task prioritization. When faced with a demand or request, the individual should consider whether it matches their job description. Furthermore, who would benefit or suffer from accepting or declining the job? Remember that a given task should always move the individual  toward a desired outcome. 

Key takeaways:

  • The Four Ds of Time Management helps an individual discern whether a task, demand, or request is worth an investment of their time.
  • The Four Ds of Time Management is particularly important for product managers who must ensure that tasks are aligned with personal or company goals and objectives.
  • The Four Ds of Time Management are do, defer, delegate, and delete. Each of the four categories encourages the individual to filter requests or tasks before acting on them.

Read Next: Business AnalysisCompetitor Analysis, Continuous InnovationAgile MethodologyLean StartupBusiness Model InnovationProject Management.

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Published by

Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"