4D system for filtering tasks

another simple yet effective time management method

4d system
The 4D system is a simple and powerful time management technique that helps us to easily decide what we are going to work on. As a result, anyone using this technique can become better at time-management. To make the right decisions about your tasks, your to-do list must be filtered through the 4D system.

Details about the 4D system of time management

A detailed description of the 4D system of time management can be found in the book written by Wan How. The title of the book is 4Ds Time Management: Delete, Delegate, Defer, Do and includes 9 advanced techniques that will allow you to regain control over your time and life, and make it possible for you to achieve your dream goals.

The basic principles of the 4D system of time management

The 4D system it’s very simple to apply. First of all, filter all the activities to be performed through the 4D system. After deciding on each task, you start working. This is how it works. The 4D is derived from Delete, Delegate, Defer, Do. Each of these terms exactly describes the action to be applied to the filtered tasks.

Applying the 4D system of time management

To be able to apply the 4D system we must know from the beginning what is the action defined by each of the 4D:
  • Delete
    "Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do"
    Steve Jobs
    From the to-do list, those activities that cause time-wasting should be eliminated. This category may include activities such as constant checking of social media, news or emails. About the latter, Wan How, the author of the book describing this method says that

    "I can usually delete half or more of my emails without opening them. I am especially brutal when I return from vacation and have to go through a backlog of emails"

    To the same category belong the routine activities such as brushing your teeth, tasks that can be automated or interruptions that occur during peak hours of personal productivity.

  • Delegate
    This step is sometimes easier said than done. This is because you may not be used to delegating things to others or because you have no one to redirect to. However, if you have such tasks and you have the possibility, it is in your interest to delegate them. This way you will be able to use your time in a much more useful way.
    "If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate"
    Richard Branson
  • Defer
    Passing the activities through this filter means you can decide that you will not handle those tasks, more precisely "not right now". That is, you do not completely exclude the task from your to-do list, but you reschedule it for later, eventually towards the end of the workday. This fact requires you to review the list of the deferred ones at the end of the day, to decide what to do with these tasks. In the meantime, you can deal with important activities that require your immediate attention. Wan How mentions that:
    "Due to the ever-changing environment we live in, some tasks become obsolete if we defer them"
  • Do
    "Buckle down and get the task done"
    Wan How
    The most efficient way to perform tasks is to prioritize and perform them one by one in the established order.
    Do not jump from one activity to another but start the next one only when you have completed the previous one.

The way of working becomes the following:
  1. Make a to-do list
  2. Filter all activities through the 4D system
  3. Start working.

Benefits of using a 4D system of time management

Applied regularly, the 4D system eliminates the unnecessary waste of time, allows you to accomplish more in shorter periods, lowers your stress, and helps you focus. All of this will lead to increased productivity and will improve all aspect of your life

Related: explore other methods and strategies that use the To-do list for time management