The 5 Ds

No, not Dodgeball. Time management. And since I am often starved for time, I need to do this all too often. This applies when you’re presented with a choice of competing events for time.

I say 5, when the larger view is that there are only 4. I’ll explain the 4 first.

DO

The act of doing the task. Most people time this at the 2 minute mark, if you can get it done in that time, then do it. Being a good writer helps tremendously on this, as you can do more in 2 minutes. My personal bar is closer to 5 minutes, given the types of decisions I need to make and associated actions.

DEFER

Things that take longer to do but you don’t have time to do them. Work-related, this is a rather big pile. I have a fully booked schedule to track piles of activities, and a tracking sheet for outstanding items. Woooo is this a big pile.

DELETE

Most people struggle with this one. We are inundated with requests and many of them can be ignored. If I’m not in the TO field, I don’t need to do the work and I move on. I get dozens of requests from vendors to meet them, I ignore most of those too. I tend to hoard information though, so while I may ignore it, I don’t necessarily delete it.

DELEGATE

This doesn’t only apply to management roles. Let’s say I have repairs to do, I can do most of them myself but I know that the finishing work takes a PILE of time and I’d look at my mistakes for years. So I’ll end up paying someone to do that work for me. In group games, there’s a ton of delegation. Raid leaders know this all too well.

The Fifth

This is where people get stuck, and it’s the ability to decide. Too often people get paralyzed with a decision to make and end up not making one at all. There’s the flip side where people make decisions too hastily and come to regret the outcomes. The act itself is a skill, rather than an outcome, and everyone needs their own practice and set of rules. What I may delegate, another may do.

Back from vacation, I have ~750 emails to get through, which isn’t too bad at all compared to a normal work week. A lot of them are more of the FYI type, but there are a couple in there where I was tasked with work in the future. In a lot of cases, I will delete those actions because the folks can’t understand how an Out of Office / delegate system works. They will ask for a status update and I will just say “did you send it to my clearly indicated delegate?”. A small but important amount will be generic tasks, like performance target updates that are for a larger group, including me.

Over time I’ve become better at time management. Maybe a tad too good at times, and managing expectations becomes complicated. What I can do in 2 hours may take a team member a week to follow through. I know a guy who can put baseboards on an entire floor faster than a team of 5 amateurs can do it. The larger challenge them becomes in delegating, and ensuring the people who do need to do the work are trained/coached along so they get better over time. It takes time, but the payoff is immense. Less work for me, more experience for them, and we get to build a relationship from it.

And that’s my work goal for the rest of this calendar. In the personal space… that’s a really open question. More of a team game there.

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