As a nonprofit manager, there is always more to do than hours in a day. The world keeps moving faster, not slower, and even with so many time saving apps and devices, our daily to-do lists seem to be getting longer instead of shorter. Some tasks seem to have taken up permanent residence and we just can’t work our way through them. The weight of these never-happening tasks takes up precious brain space as well as inducing guilt and feelings of incompetence as we feel unaccomplished looking at what never gets done. If this is a problem you’ve encountered, the 4D2 task management technique may just be the answer you’ve been looking for.
4D2 – 4 Dots and 4 D’s
4D2 stands for 4 Dots and 4 D’s. We begin by implementing a 4 dot system, where you review your to-do list once each week and mark a dot next to each item that isn’t done yet. As the weeks go by, incomplete items will accumulate dots. Where there are 4 dots next to an item, a month has passed and it’s action time!
Once you reach 4 dots, you MUST do one of 4 D’s: Do, Divide, Delegate or Don’t!
Do means to buckle up, inhale, and DO the task at hand. If that seems too much, perhaps the task needs to be DIVIDED into smaller ones that are more manageable and reentered as new, smaller, task items on your list. If the thought of doing any of these tasks personally seems impossible, move on to DELEGATE the task to someone else. And if none of those options seem reasonable, it may be time to say goodbye to this task item for now by deciding that it won’t get done, and DON’T do it.
So the process is:
- Start by setting a time that you are going to look over your to-do list every week – and stick to it!
- Put a dot next to each task that has not yet been completed each week, adding dots each week to a still incomplete item.
- Once a task has 4 dots next to it, your time is up. It’s been on your list for a month now and you are just not getting to it. You have 4 choices:
- DO: Just sit down and do it! Don’t let yourself get distracted by anything else until this job is complete.
- DIVIDE: Maybe it’s not getting done because it’s too big a job. Break it up into smaller tasks and put them on your to-do list. See if you can get through those instead.
- DELEGATE: If you’re not getting the task done, it’s time to pass it on to someone else who will get it done for you.
- DON’T: Wipe it off your list and don’t do it. It’s obviously not that important to you or just won’t fit into your current time/work ability.
After a few months of using this system, you will encounter a feeling of increased productivity and accomplishment as there are no longstanding items dragging you down. You will also find that you are able to get done more of what’s important without being distracted by items that are less important or necessary.
Enjoy the feeling of increased productivity and control that proper task management gives you. And don’t forget to let us know how this technique helped you, in the comments below.
Estie Rand is an internationally acclaimed lecturer and business consultant specializing in helping small business owners and nonprofits bring in more money with less headache. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for all your business and nonprofit related questions in areas of marketing, profitability, growth strategies and more.