The 5Ds of Time Management
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The 5Ds of Time Management

Time management is an issue that often faces my clients - too many ideas, too much to do and not enough time to do them.

I work with clients to get clear on their objectives for the future and if i think it will be helpful, then I introduce them to the 5Ds, a tool I use myself. You may have heard of this before as it's something that's been around for quite a long time.

The 5Ds are: Do, Diminish, Defer, Delegate or Dump.  

You can begin by clearing up your backlog (to-do list, or email inbox, etc) and work though each item. Once you have the backlog cleared, you can get into the habit of using this easy little tool everyday.

For every potential action/email/phone call etc., that comes up needing your attention, firstly ask yourself if it will forward your objectives.  If the answer is yes, then:

“If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.” Mark Twain

If you have a job that needs to be done but you don't like doing - just eat the frog. The more you put it off, the bigger the worry becomes and it overshadows everything else that you're doing. I'm a great believer in treats so if you have a job that you really don't like doing, do it and then follow it with a treat or a job you will really enjoy.

Something that can stop us just ‘doing it’ is you don't know how to start, or the job seems too big.  The trick here is to break the job or project down into manageable pieces.  And if you don’t know how to start, this breaking down is the first step.  (You can also try the 10 Minute Rule).

DEFER IT (Delay it/Diarise it)
Deferring is what you do when you need more information so your action is to work out what you need and by when.  It is what you can do with emails - just because they ping into your inbox, you don’t have to answer straight away! You can decide that you will have an email blitz at lunchtime and answer all at once.  You can put those jobs which are fairly regular (for example, a regular newsletter) to make sure you don’t forget them (and bizarrely, so that you can forget them, knowing it is in the diary.)

When you start out and establishing yourself, you may have to do everything yourself. But in time, delegation is a great opportunity to bring more people into your game; get them spreading the word about you; a great way to train people up to your way of working; of giving back and mentoring; and to bring in more expertise and skills and new perspectives to what you're doing.  And if it can't be afforded at this point, this can be one of your key objectives - for example, “in six months I will be earning enough to bring in a designer to review my website”.  (Check out my blog Delegate)

DUMP IT (Delete it)
So, you look at the task; you are clear that it will not forward your objectives.

This D is one that a lot of people are often nervous about, blocked by the tyranny of the to-do list. Just because something has been written down or a project has been discussed then it is not set in stone. Things change so that really good idea you wrote down a couple of months ago actually doesn't seem that good any more. It could be the moment has passed or something better has turned up that will actually get the same ends but by different means.  It could be that it's something that is on your list because someone else suggested it and actually isn't your to do at all.  If the task doesn’t further or contribute to your key priorities, declare it complete - the completion of the action is not the doing of it but the taking it off your list.

So this has been a really quick whip through time management. Things don't always go to plan: stuff happens. and there will always be things that you hadn't anticipated however well you plan. But if you have the bulk of your work done, diminished, deferred (in the diary), delegated or dumped, it will help you manage those emergencies.

If this has struck a chord with you and you want to find out if coaching will support you, check out how we could work together and get in touch.

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