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4 Easy Ways to Shrink Your To-Do List



We all have a lot on our plate, and even the most organized among us can sometimes feel overwhelmed by how much there is to do. But help is on the way. Read on about how to keep calm and carry on with 4 simple steps.

Good time management means focusing on the highest and best use of your time. I'm a big fan of author Julie Morgenstern's tool for shrinking how much is on your plate so you can focus on activities that support good time management. She prescribes using the 4 Ds - four alternatives which can be a lifeline when you're in over your head and going down fast.

1. Delete. Don't keep postponing and rescheduling things that aren't worth doing at all. If you can live with the outcome of something not getting done, delete it from your list. It might be fun to do, or interesting, but if it's not critical and you don't have time for it, just delete it. You won't miss the clutter it adds to your schedule.

2. Delay. Reschedule tasks to a more appropriate time. This intentional deferring of less-critical tasks isn't procrastination; it's triage. Procrastination is avoiding doing things, typically by doing more enjoyable things instead. Delay means making a conscious decision to postpone something to a better time.

3. Diminish. Shrink how much time something is going to take you to do, either by doing it more efficiently, or by shrinking the deliverable. Find shortcuts to get things done - spend more time planning to minimize the amount of time needed for doing. Adopt the "less is more" philosophy and see if shorter emails, meetings, reports, etc. will give the desired results with less time and effort.

4. Delegate. Enlist the help of others when possible: employees, family members, friends, or outside service providers (cleaning service, bookkeeper, etc.). Most people love to be of service and use their skills to help others, so give them the opportunity to do so when it's appropriate.

My favorite "D" is Diminish - I'm always looking for ways to do things more efficiently, whether it's creating templates I can use the next time I have to do the same task, shrinking the deliverable, or recognizing when good enough is good enough. I'd love to hear which is your favorite and how you put it to work for you. Wishing you success in making the 4Ds your productivity power tool.

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