Do you have a stack?
You know the one. The stack of files waiting for your attention. The stack of messages. The stack of emails in your inbox.
How will you ever get through them you wonder? Never fear – You now have a solution. Allow me to introduce to you “The 5 Ds.”
I originally learned the 5 Ds come from business coach Kevin Lawrence, and they go like this:
1. Do It
2. Delete It
3. Delegate It
4. Decide on It
5. Date It
The “it” in this case is usually some small task or action item. Every time you have to get through a stack of email, a stack of paper, a stack of voice mail messages, or just stacks and stacks of work, The 5 Ds work especially well. You will drastically cut the time you need to get through the stack, and you can then get to the other high-impact activities that make the best use of your time.
Do It means do it now. Use this for any task that takes fifteen minutes or less.
Delete It means there are some things that do not require your response. Just because someone sent you the message/document/suggestion doesn’t mean you have to reply. If an item doesn’t advance a relationship or achieve an important goal, get rid of it.
Delegate It means pass it on to someone else who can handle the job. They don’t have to do it better than you; they don’t even have to do it as well or as fast. They probably won’t. But unless it’s a top priority or specific result that you and only you can deliver, you’re not the right person. Pass it on. Don’t abdicate the responsibility; you still need to be sure the task gets done. This is not a game of hot potato. It’s a way of reorganizing work so the right people do the appropriate jobs for maximum efficiency and results.
Decide On It means no more moving items from one stack to another, telling yourself, “I’ll get back to that.” Will you attend the meeting or won’t you? Will you agree to that request or won’t you? Make a decision. Move on.
Date It means you get to choose when you will give big-ticket items your undivided time and attention. Figure out how much time you need and block it out in your schedule. You can forget about it until then.
Write a mini-version of the 5 Ds on a sticky note and put it near a stack of papers, projects, emails or administrative tasks. Set aside some time to tackle the tasks using the 5 Ds. Notice how the 5s cut down the time it takes to finish the tasks.
The ideas in this article are drawn from The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership and the accompanying eBook called The Extension. The eBook is designed to give you simple, engaging personal leadership exercises and activities to help you be a better leader, and lead a better life. Get your copy today! Click here for a Preview and to Order.