The 4 D’s of Time Management!

Originally published on 3rd April:

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”:

  1. 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 difference would it make?
  2. 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. 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?
  3. 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. do you have to do it yourself, or 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).
  4. 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 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.

13 thoughts on “The 4 D’s of Time Management!

  1. This excerpt on the 4 D’s is worth a repeat. In one of the time management books I read, there was an absolute beauty in terms of using one’s time productively. Allow me to share this with you.
    Cast your mind back(in Mush’s case it would probably be quite easy considering his globe-trotting!)to the time you left for a long overseas holiday. Remember how you had to get a million things done before the great getaway? As usual you left things for the last moment and on the last day before the trip, you are really pressured and can’t afford to be side-tracked in any way. It’s heads down and work, work, work until you have steadily ticked off the things that absolutely needed to get done. On that day alone, you would have probably finished more work than you would have in a normal week(or for some of us, in a month!). You had no alternative – these things just needed to be taken care off. Well, how about if we practiced a few of these day-before-the long-vacation days – think about how much more productively we can work.


  2. Dear Mush,

    4 Ds concept is great. I remember you sharing this with us while you were in India. Another great framework that has really worked for me is Steven Covey’s Time Matrix from “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.The 4 quadrants we may slot our activities in – Urgent&Impt , Not urgent but important , not urgent and not important, urgent and not important. Effective people spend most of their time in quadrant II i.e not urgent but important.
    Cheers ! Nuzhat.


  3. that is really interesting and practical.. and of course it will make my work easier.. I’m surely going to try it..thanks Mush..:)


  4. time management is so important especially in business,recruitment,direct selling,horizontal direct selling and ventures a big one.
    the word managing is beautiful .
    when its managed the right way,good habit everyone becomes successfull.cheers


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