Tag Archives: Delegate

The 9 Ds of Processing: Turn Your Excessive Time Demands into Manageable Tasks

weekend book binding43 unread emails, 1713 emails in out inbox, 18 new letters in the mail, 33 ideas in our head, 4 piles of papers on our desk, 36 items on our to do list and a blinking answering machine. Our inboxes (electronic and physical) are constantly being filled with more demands on our time. To keep our sanity and be productive we must take a short time to “process” our overflowing inboxes and get it empty (or as close as possible). This will ensure that our task lists are filled with manageable tasks.

Here’s a quick mnemonic to making this process go faster and efficiently- use the 9 Ds: Delete, Deposit (file), Deflect, Deter, Delegate, Defer, Designate(calendar), Do Now, (To) Do List.

Delete

If an item is junk or you’ll never need it, get rid of it right away. Newspapers are trash(yesterday’s news is worthless), old magazines are trash(you’re not going to get to it anyway), junk email should be vaporized, old clothes go to good will, you get the idea. Bonus: figure out how to never deal with it again (e.g. unsubcribe from lists, sign up on do not call lists etc.)

Deposit

File your reference information. Many of the files on your desk or old emails are no longer needed except as a reference just in case. If you think you’ll need it someday- just put it in a obvious file folder- out of site so when you’ll need it you can quickly find. Get it out of the way so it’s not cluttering your workspace.

Deflect

If you are definitely the wrong person for this task then quickly point the requestor to the right place and get this out of your boxes. You don’t to do this immediately so you don’t hold up the project.

Deter

Learn how to say no. Not every request that comes to your inbox means you must do it. See if it fits within your responsibilities and/or goals. If not just say “no”.

Delegate

There are some tasks that should be done but someone else can help you with it. If someone on your staff or your spouse etc can do it let them help you especially if they can do it better. Some people get in the mindset that only they can do a task, that they do it best. Given some else a chance. Keep in mind when you delegate you are not completely giving up the task, you will still get the last word and should keep a follow-up on your task list so the issue is done on time with quality.

Defer

Some tasks are interesting but it’s not important or urgent. Put it on your “someday/maybe list”. This way you’ll still have it on your radar but it wont clutter your mind. Examples of items to defer are painting the house (you dont have time for it now anyway), launching a completely new product etc or other tasks that you know aren’t needed in the near future.

Designate

Designate a specific time for an appointment. Just put it on your calendar and move on. An appointment should sit in one central place so you dont double book your time or miss appointments.

Do Now

Any task that takes two minutes or less should be done quickly. No excuses- do it. It will feel great to shorten your to do list.

(To) Do List

All other tasks go on your “to do” list. Just get it out of your inbox.

This post was inspired by: Matthew Cornell’s post The Path of Maximum Productivity: Seven tensions, and how to resolve them. Thanks Matthew.

photo credit: nate steiner

Are You Finished? Finish What You Start

adiml48I recently received this message forwarded to my email box:

Recently Dr Phil, the talk show host, proclaimed, “The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished.” So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn’t finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of chocolates. You have no idea how good I feel right now.

Jokes aside it is important to finish what you start. Unfinished items will clog your to do list. When you leave an item unfinished for a while you should use the “processing” rules:

  • Delete- Don’t do this task (don’t worry about the work you already did if it’s not needed drop the task.)
  • Delegate- maybe someone else can help you finish it.
  • Defer- if you’re not going to get to it soon- defer it. Put it on your someday/maybe list so it’s not cluttering your current to do list.
  • Do now- Can you do it in 5 minutes or less?
  • Designate- if you know you need to meet someone to get further details on this task (or to do it)- designate some time on your calendar.

I actually started this post months ago. I feel much better, it’s one less draft I need to worry about and I now have a post for tomorrow (today, for those of you reading it).

photo credit: Cara_VSAngel

Meeting Prep For Managers- How To Look Good At Meetings Even When Your Employees Sabotage You

Preparation is the key to getting the most out of meetings and making yourself look good. I’m sure you runIMG_3590 through all of your deliverables and make sure you’re already. As a manager often times you’ll rely on your team to bring key items to a meeting outside your team. You’ll even check in with them to make sure they are “ready”. But that’s not enough.

The problem arises when a staff member misunderstands their assignment and then you’re at a meeting faced with a choice of defending/explaining your staff even though he is wrong or having your employee (and you by extension) look bad.

The best solution is not getting into that position. Schedule a premeeting to go over the deliverables. Be sure you schedule it so you have enough time to react to any issues that may come up. The premeeting can even help you because perhaps your staff may have gotten it right but you didn’t. Do this for simple tasks also. The meeting can (should) be short. You don’t need to go over every inch of the presentation (though if it’s being presented to clients/key personnel you should), just enough to make sure you’re all on the same page.

Creative Commons License photo credit: David Boyle in DC

8 Ways To Do Less Of What You Don’t Like

Readers of this blog know that being more successful can be easy and fun- all you have to do is follow The Rule of Thumb for Success: do more of what you like and less of what you don’t like. Today we’ll concentrate on doing less of what you don’t like using techniques you already know.

Identify Your Tasks That You Don’t Like
The first step in any en devour is to figure out what you’re trying to accomplish. During the course of your day there will be numerous tasks that will annoy you, cause you to pull out your hair or that you simply don’t like. Identify them- they are now put on notice. Pick a few items you will work on eliminating. I suggest you start with a few easy ones so you can see quick results (see layering). Once you get the hang of it go for the really annoying ones that may be harder to eliminate.

Eat the Tasks You Don’t like
Now that you know what you want to accomplish it’s time to plan how to do it. I recommend you Ate your task- By ATE I mean eliminATE, delegATE or automATE. Below I’ll explain the concepts and show you how you can use it. To better illustrate the power of these techniques I’ll give you specific examples using everyone’s least favorite task: washing dishes.

Eliminate

  • Decide– Decide that you don’t want to do it. It could be it’s not needed or it’s not that important anymore. If you’re doing the task for someone else ask them if they still need it. If you’re too chicken to ask your boss if he still needs that monthly report, just ask him if you can enhance it or make it better in any way. Perhaps you know of a different report that will do the job better.

Lets see how to use this to do fewer dishes: Decide you don’t want to do dishes anymore and switch to plastic (at least for really mess stuff). Decide that you don’t want to bake anymore.

  • Combine– Combine the task you dislike with something else you like. People often combine exercise with TV. Before they know it they’ve run another mile. Be sure that the tasks are compatible (e.g. no tv and washing dishes because your eyes cant do both at the same time) and that you don’t multi-task. You need to give each task the appropriate attention.

Do fewer dishes: Use dishes time as quality time with your partner. You are going to talk about your days (at least you should) and discuss future plans you may as well get something accomplished at the same time. He can even dry.

  • Simplify– Try not to over complicate the process- that may be leading to your dislike. Try to isolate the parts you don’t like doing and find a solution for that.

Do fewer dishes: Eat out/Order in. The goal is to eat- not to cook. If you don’t cook, there are no dishes. If your issue with washing dishes is that your hands get too dry be sure to have gloves handy and that will eliminate your problems.

  • Batch it– Do multiple tasks together and save setup time. It will also limit your dislike time to a small portion of the day.

Do fewer dishes: Don’t wash a dish at a time, wash them all together.

Delegate

  • Insource– See who within your organization (or family) you can get to do the horrid task. Offer to trade tasks or even bribe them. If you don’t have people capable train them. You may think it takes a while to train but it can pay huge dividends in the future.

Do fewer dishes: Trade tasks with your partner- you take care of the kids if she’ll wash the dishes.

  • Outsource– Pay someone to do it. You can find personal assistants for virtually anything. It may be expensive but you may decide to skimp on your budget elsewhere or put in extra hours just to afford the luxury.

Do fewer dishes: Hire help.

Automate

  • Automate the process– Look to computers and other technology to take care of the task for you. It may take an investment of time or effort but often can lead to huge dividends.

Do fewer dishes: Get a dishwasher.

  • Habits– Set habits for yourself that will make your job easier. You can try to set habits for others to.

Do fewer dishes: Annoyed that your kids don’t bring the dishes? Have a candy dish at the sink. When dishes are deposited then they get to take an item. Replenish it quickly at first and then less in the future until it becomes second nature.

Bonus

Sometimes there are tasks that you just have to do so try to make it more fun. Add music to it. Do it in a fun way (splash the water). Remember it’s not work if you want to do it.

At Seth’s Blog he calls our rule of thumb for success: Have to vs. Get to. Wouldn’t it be great if you get to do what you have to do.