The 4Ds of Time Management and how to use them

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The 4 Ds of time management are a set of four different and complementary actions you can use to prioritize your tasks at work. This time management technique is especially useful when you’re feeling overwhelmed, since they map out exactly what you should do with each task to knock it off your to-do list.

With the 4 Ds of time management, you can increase your efficiency and finish your projects faster. Each “D” is a strategy to help you streamline your busy schedule.


The first of the 4 Ds, “drop”, is about getting rid of unnecessary tasks on your to-do list. The key to using the “drop” technique is to look for hidden inefficiencies in your schedule.

Take some time to think about your daily working routine. You might be surprised to see what tasks you can shorten or cut out entirely, with minimal impact on your job performance.  


“Delegate” is all about giving tasks away to someone else. The tricky thing about delegating work is that it can cause anxiety due to the loss of control. You’ll also need to delegate in a smart way, so you don’t accidentally end up wasting more time supervising the person you’ve delegated to.


When you “delay” or “defer” tasks, you put them off until later. The ideal time to delay tasks is when you’re in a state of flow, and someone comes up to you and interrupts you with a new request. Unless the request is an emergency, plan a time to meet with them later.

Another way you can apply the “delay” technique is by organizing your to-do list chronologically. For example, if you have a lot of deadlines to meet, make a list and tackle them in order of their due dates.


The last of the 4 Ds, “do,” is in some ways easiest. Time management is about good planning, but at some point you need to act and do. Complete the tasks on your list.

If the task needs to be completed now and you’re prepared to tackle it, go ahead and do so. Otherwise, consider dropping, delegating, or delaying it instead. 

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