6AM: Your alarm clock goes off, you hit snooze a few times, wake up the kids, make breakfast, get the dishes done (wait, the dishwasher needs to be emptied first!), get kids off to school (or set up at home desk, thanks COVID!), answer emails (personal and work), complete work projects, pay the bills, make appointment for dog’s vaccines, grab a shower after a quick workout (realize shower needs to be cleaned), plan dinner, (realize you are out of milk), make a quick run to the store, make dinner, clean up from dinner, remember the gutters need to be cleaned, get kids ready for bed, do a few loads of laundry, order birthday present for kid’s friend on Amazon, check emails again, fall into bed, set alarm for the next morning…
Can you relate? Many of us struggle to keep all the balls in the air. Most of us live away from extended family, away from the support systems that would give us the extra hand that we so desperately need. Our friends are as stretched for time as we are, everyone is struggling to keep up. How do we get more time out of the time we are all given?
The 4 D’s of Time Management
There are many different time management strategies out there, including hundreds of books, weekend workshops and numerous blogs. But The 4 D’s of Time Management is a simple and actionable strategy to implement now.
The Brain Dump
But, before we delve into the 4 D’s we must create an action list.
Slow down and do a complete brain dump of everything you have to get done, writing down everything that comes across your mind.
You won’t want to do this, you will want to press full-steam ahead. Taking the time to think and pause is extremely difficult for so many of us. But taking 30 minutes to sit and write down everything that comes across your mind is like taking the time to find the correct address and put it in your GPS. You can just start driving around like crazy and figure it out as you go, or you can plan ahead and figure out exactly where you are going before you push on the gas.
Take the time to clear every little thing out of your brain. When you think you are done….think some more and give it 3 more minutes. This will get it out of your head and onto the paper where you can take action. Now you choose one of the 4 D’s.
This is the easiest of the four Ds to implement because you don’t have to do much of anything beyond making a simple decision to do or to delete.
Many productivity consultants recommend approaching this D through “The 80/20 Rule”, it states 80% of the results come from 20% of activities.
Ask yourself: Will this activity help me get the long-term result I want? Do I really need to get this done? If you honestly don’t, just get rid of it.
Decisions are tough, maybe you can’t decide if you can just dump it, or you cannot think of anyone who could take it off your plate, then defer the decision.
To delay means saying, “Not right now” rather than, “Not ever.”
For example, if you get an email that takes more than two minutes to deal with, drag it to a to-do or an action folder. If you follow this approach, remember to review your list of deferred tasks at the end of the day or week. During this review decide if you want to do or delete – do NOT continue to delay past a week. After all, there’s a fine line between deferring and procrastinating indefinitely.
Once you have funneled through your list, the remaining things are for YOU to do. Simply put, act!
Before deciding to do a task, I like using the two-minute rule as a decision framework. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in just 120 seconds: write an email, make a quick phone call, pull a report and so on.
If your task takes longer than 120 seconds and you still need to do it, schedule it on your calendar and honor these scheduled appointments like you would an appointment with a doctor or a co-worker. Work on your scheduled tasks alone until you complete them. Remember, multitasking is the enemy of effective time management.
This D can be the most difficult to implement but also can be the most effective strategy to get more done in less time. Getting things off your to-do list onto someone else’s is the magic key to doubling or tripling your time.
Some of us are lucky enough to have friends or family who have some extra time and who love helping others out, if you have such people in your life, ask them to help. And yes, even the kids, just be realistic about what they are actually able to do so that you can truly delegate to them.
At work, there are more clear-cut roles that define who we can delegate to. But when it comes to our day-to-day life, it becomes more challenging. There are many resources in our community that are there to help busy people. You can order your groceries through a grocery delivery service, hire a service to help clean your house or hire a dog walker. Our community has the resources to help us, we just need to know where to look and have the wisdom to ask for help when we need it.
For many of us though, it is difficult to find the right solution for our varied needs. What if we need something dropped at the post office, groceries picked up for dinner, the dog needs a bath and we need to wait on the cable repair guy? This is how real life is for most of us and there are limited solutions to help us manage all these time-consuming tasks.
Getting that little bit of help with day to day living is where a Personal Assistant can step in to help. And no–they are not just for the rich and famous. You may think you are not worthy of asking for help, you may say “I should be able to do it all!” But remember, back in the day, we had that village – you know the one that it “takes” to do get it done. Nowadays we don’t have the same supportive village, but we still need help, we cannot do it all on our own.
A Personal Assistant can help with the many varied items that clutter your to-do list. The shopping, managing and getting quotes for home repairs, help with the dog, planning kid’s activities, help with paperwork or organizing, house maintenance, meal prep. Most of us easily spend 10-20 hours/week doing these things, taking time away from the things we love to do and from the tasks that will help us live our best life. Those hours can be spent getting a few extra hours in at work, those few extra hours of sleep that will help us be more productive and effective or that extra time playing with the kids in the yard, helping them to become more secure, balanced members of society.
Think about what you would do with an extra hour or two every day? What are those things that will enrich your life, make the world a better place, make your family’s life more complete and satisfying?
There are solutions out there to help you get more time out of time. You can do your part to live your best life by clarifying the things you must get done, setting aside time for things you want to do and asking for help with the things that can be passed off and onto someone else’s to-do list.
This is the winning formula to live the best life you can, spending your most valuable resource, TIME, doing the things you love.
We are your Personal Assistants Next Door!!
We tap into your community and find those that have extra time and want to help their neighbors. We thoroughly screen all applicants, perform comprehensive background checks, check their identity and fully insure them. When you need help, you simply put a request in the app and a nearby Panda will step up to help you.