We are all so busy. We have so many things to do, and so little time. We can’t get everything done. And even if we do, we don’t always get the sense of fulfillment. Most time management books try to teach you how to do more in less time. I think the secret to fulfillment is doing less, not more, but doing it with passion and attention and focus. To do less, I use the “4 D’s Principle”:
- First D is for ‘Drop it’. Some things don’t need to be done at all. E.g. what would happen if you don’t take that call while having dinner with your family? What if you don’t go to pick up that friend from the airport? What if you stopped washing the tub before and after every shower? What difference would it make?
- Second D is for ‘Delay it’. You notice your car is dirty. Do you have to wash it right now, or you can do it tomorrow? That email doesn’t have to be answered right now; you can do it after completing the proposal you are working on. You don’t have to open all the mail as soon as it arrives. Are there things you do every day that can be done once a week? Or things you do every week that can be done once a month?
- Third D is for ‘Delegate it’. So here’s something that can’t be dropped or delayed e.g. Your child needs to be taken to a doctor. The air conditioning needs to be fixed. The customer needs a product replacement or a refund. Ask yourself if you have to do it yourself, or whether you can get someone else to do it for you. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to do things for you, only if you ask (nicely).
- Fourth D is obviously ‘Do it’. Your daily exercise. Time with your kids – reading, talking, playing, helping them with their school work, or just listening to them. Being with your loved one – the dinner, movie, walk or just being together. That course you have been wanting to do. That customer you need to call. That paper you need to write. The books you want to read. The friend you want to call. The vacation that you need. These are some of the things you won’t have to drop, delay or delegate if you follow the 4 D’s.
Look at all the stuff you do and see what can be dropped, delayed or delegated. How much more time you’ll have to do the things that really matter – that are important, as well as urgent! Please share your own examples.