Got too much work to handle? Take it one piece at a time, applying the four D’s: Delete, Do it, Delegate, or Defer.
In today’s workplace we constantly face a barrage of tasks. How do you prioritize them and get things done? Simple: Apply the four D’s! Whether you’re dealing with e-mail, snail mail, meetings, or tasks from your customers or your supervisor, any given problem can be reduced to this simple choice.
If it requires no action, then delete it. Got junk e-mail? Trash it. One little twist on the “delete” option is the “file” option. I usually file informational e-mails away into separate folders. This might just be a waste of time, but it gives me the comfort of knowing that I’m keeping records.
If the task either requires immediate action, or you have the time to do it right now, then make like a pair of Nikes and just do it. Your boss walks into your office – give him or her a chair, sit down, and get the task done.
If the task can or should be done by someone else, then hand it over to them. Don’t be a chronic delegator, who always seems to dole out tasks without doing anything themselves. And monitor whatever you delegate, to make sure that it is completed properly.
If a job will take a long time to complete, or is not terribly important, then defer it. In my first training as an accountant with a large accounting firm, we were taught to keep a draw with all of the unimportant jobs we are given. Put it all in a draw, and see if anyone asks for it. After a few months my drawer was full, and no one ever asked about anything that was in it.
Remember: Four D’s: Delete, Do it, Delegate, or Defer.