I’ve experimented with various time management hacks over the years. The time management hack I’ve found to be most practical and useful is the 4Ds of time management. People will continue to get better and better at their jobs and productivity, yet time management will continue to be an issue in business. We’ll look at the 4D’s of time management first, but what are the 4D’s of negligent time management?
The 4D’s of Time Management
If you’re not familiar with this technique, the 4Ds of time management are: delete, delegate, defer, and do.
- Delete is where you remove unnecessary time-wasters from your schedule, such as projects you never complete or unproductive meetings.
- Delegate is taking tasks that are important but can be assigned to someone else.
- Defer means, essential tasks that don’t need to be handled right now. Schedule these jobs when you have the availability.
- Do is for the jobs (or anything) that take a couple of minutes to finish quickly. Don’t let these micro-tasks pile-up — get them done and over with, now. But, do also means diving directly into a task, building up your momentum and working on a bigger job to get it done.
Personally, using the 4Ds of time management has increased my productivity. How? Using the principle has encouraged me to focus on what truly matters. Also, because this has reduced the number of activities I need to worry about, I’m not cluttering my calendar. The 4D’s have helped prevent decision fatigue, which gives me more mental energy throughout the day.
What’s interesting, however, is that different industries have their variation of the 4D’s. Case in point, the medical industry has the 4Ds of medical negligence. These (negligent areas) are duty, dereliction, direct causation, and damages.
The 4D’s of Medical Negligence.
Recently, I had to visit urgent care. Nothing serious. While waiting to see the doctor, I saw a parallel between the 4Ds of time management and negligence.
I know. That probably shouldn’t have been my main concern. But what can I say? I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve time management. I think the 4D’s of negligence can be helpful in the Calendar, business, and productivity space.
No matter the exact field of expertise — doctors must adhere to strict rules, guidelines, and protocols. Drs listen to the patient and are respectful of their views.
The same system of confidentiality should be practiced in businesses, with customers and client’s financials and other information. A physician must also practice confidentiality. How confidential are we with our clients and customers data, requests, sales, and so forth? In short, Doctors must always provide the best care possible for all of their patients. Do we do the same in business?
Additionally, if the doctor believes that they can not help a patient — they must refer them to someone else. For example, if you have a rotator cuff tear, then your primary physician wouldn’t attempt to do surgery. Instead, your primary care doctor will refer you to physical therapy, and then to an orthopedic surgeon.
How duty relates to time management.
To begin with, whenever you accept a time request, you have a duty to follow through with the job. If you accept a meeting invite — then you need to block that timeframe in your calendar to prevent scheduling conflicts. You will follow through with the meetings set up on your schedule.
Ditching-out on your scheduled appointments at the last minute isn’t done unless there is an emergency. Your doctor doesn’t cancel appointments for no reason. It wouldn’t be very professional for your doctor to visit with two patients in the same room at the same time, either.
You have a responsibility to arrive on-time for your appointments and end the event as scheduled.
Not only is this respectful to the other attendees, but it also protects your time. Have you planned a meeting for thirty minutes, and the meeting ends up being an hour? The lax in protocols change your plans for the day — and creates conflict in everyone’s schedule.
Similarly to the medical duty of time management — if you don’t have the availability — then be honest about this upfront. If your Calendar is packed for the next month, don’t take on any new responsibilities. Don’t keep adding to your duties or accept any meeting invites until you have more time.
Finally, like doctors, if you aren’t an expert — then send your clients and customers to someone who is an expert. Obviously, for those in the medical field — it’s for legal purposes. But, for most of us, this is a simple way to avoid wasting time.
For instance, I just repaired a couple of things at my home. These weren’t difficult, but because I had never done them before — I spent hours on the project. It may have been expensive to hire a maintenance specialist — but I would have saved a ton of time. Next time I’ll call the repairman. I’ll stick with what I am an expert at — for the sake of my business.
Whenever a doctor doesn’t meet expectations or overstepped boundaries, this is called dereliction negligence. Examples would be not providing a clean and safe environment, misdiagnosis, missing a diagnosis, doing unnecessary procedures. Dereliction also includes surgical errors or prescribing the wrong medication.
How dereliction relates to time management.
Did you commit to a new work assignment? If so, that should be your priority. You should also allocate the right amount of time to performing the jobs you said you would accomplish. By Calendaring your tasks and meetings you’ll be sure to meet the deadlines. If you don’t have the time or skills for this exact task, just as a doctor would do, the job should be handed off to someone else whose expert.
Furthermore, dereliction is defined as “the state of being abandoned.”
And, as it just so happens, finishing what you started is one of the best ways to manipulate time to your advantage.
“It’s very common for tasks to get interrupted or delayed throughout your day.” Renzo Costarella wrote previously for Calendar. “Often, it’s best to finish the task at hand before starting new ones.” If you visited your doctor to get stitches, you would expect the doc to finish the job — not leave you half-stitched.
“However, other things may take priority,” adds Renzo. “For example, if a customer needs immediate assistance, it’s probably best to serve them right away.” But, “you need to make a point to return and finish your unfinished duties” after handling the current crisis.
“Again, this sounds simple enough, but it’s common for individuals to get distracted and leave loose ends.”
If there was a dereliction of duty, then it must be proven that the healthcare provider was at fault. Usually, this is straightforward. I’ll give you an example of my personal life. My grandfather went in for simple cataract surgery. But, the doctor operated on the wrong eye. As a consequence, he began to experience vision problems in the wrong eye and he still had a cataract on the original eye.
In this case, the error was obvious. But, other times, errors and mistakes are not so black and white. Let’s say that a patient had a broken arm that didn’t heal properly. Maybe the patient will claim that the error was because the orthopedist did not apply the correct methods to the fractured arm correctly.
However, in the background, we may find out that the patient fell while the cast was on — which was the real causation of further injury. If the patient doesn’t admit the actual error or mistake — it could be challenging to prove that it wasn’t the surgeon’s fault. Dishonesty from the patient causes problems for us all.
How direct causation relates to time management.
Causation and time management fit together like a glove. If you don’t manage your time effectively by holding yourself accountable, there will be negative consequences. You may want to pin the blame on others — but, ultimately, the buck stops with you.
The surgeon who operated on my grandfather’s eye blamed the nurse who prepped my grandpop. But, the doctor should have double-checked the information himself before operating. When it comes to your responsibilities, you can say that you were late for a meeting because your other event ran late. However, if you had built-in a buffer between these meetings, this issue wouldn’t have occurred.
Another example of direct causation is not focusing on meaningful work because you’re getting distracted.
The solution? Identify these distractions and eliminate them. If your phone is the primary causation of your time management lag, then turn it off or put it on do not disturb mode. Behind on your priorities because you’re devoting too much time on unnecessary things? Drop those time-sucks from your to-do-list for the time being.
There are times when you aren’t at fault in business. One way around the vast majority of excuse ridden situations is to schedule white space in your calendar. Leave a block of time blank to catch up and in-between meeting. Leave buffer times in your schedules. If you don’t have anything scheduled use that time to address the unexpected events that occur.
Businesses have a lot of issues that appear as damages. But nothing could be worse than the current medical malpractice issues. Doctors respond to the question, “did the patient suffer physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially?”
The patient is entitled to a monetary amount that would help cover wage losses or medical bills. Damages would also take care of any pain or suffering or emotional distress that the patient has experienced.
How damages relate to business time management.
Poor time management affects every area of your life. Let’s say that you’re aren’t punctual or always rushing from Point A to B. Not only is this stressful, it also puts a strain on your relationships. If you miss a deadline, for instance, you might lose a client. If you are arriving late at home each night — you don’t have a chance to spend quality time with your family.
Other symptoms of poor time management would be procrastination, inability to set goals, and decreased quality of work. Poor time management causes damage in many areas of your business — and certainly in your life.
You’ll find poor time management causes you, your family and your clients and customers to suffer physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. Unhealthy habits, like eating fast food, not exercising, and getting burned out can be attributed to poor time management.
In other words, poor time management will definitely lead to physical, mental, emotional, and financial distress — and there is no one to blame but ourselves. You aren’t going to recover any monetary amount for slacking on the job and causing yourself and your family pain and suffering. But you can recover monetary setbacks through better time management.
When you feel pain and suffering in business — look to time management for the cure.
John’s goal in life is to make people’s lives much more productive. Upping productivity allows us to spend more time doing the things we enjoy most. John was recently recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as being one of the top marketers in the World. John is co-founder and CEO of Calendar.