How to Become More Productive

Today is Wednesday, so this post is on outstanding performance.

I received an e mail from Dan Robey ( the other day in which he laid out his formula for preventing work overload and being more productive.  Dan’s ideas, like most things easy to say and somewhat difficult to do, are simple common sense.  Take a look.

“There is a very simple formula to help you prevent work overload and be more productive every day of your life.

“Every time you are faced with a new task to perform, (an email request, new project at work or at home, phone calls, etc.) apply the 4 D’s as listed below. You will find that your workload will be reduced and your productivity will go up as you apply this screening and decision making tool to each task. Decide on the most appropriate choice – and take action.

  1. Do It Now. Take immediate action, do the task right away, don’t procrastinate.
  2. Dump It Now.  Make a quick decision and dump the task.
  3. Delegate It.  Give the task to someone else. This is a very critical aspect of time management. Your time is valuable; make it a habit to work on tasks that you do best and delegate the tasks that can be performed by someone else.
  4. Defer the Task.  Make an immediate decision to postpone the task to a later time. Make sure to schedule a time to complete it.”

Dan is great with alliterations – Do it, Dump it, Delegate it, Defer it.

Number 3 can be a difficult one – many people don’t have anyone to whom they can delegate tasks.  I struggled with this one for years.  I’m a solo entrepreneur, and I always felt as if I needed to do everything myself.  This year, I hired a VA – that’s web speak for Virtual Assistant.  Her name is Alex Greer. Her email address is  Alex doesn’t even live on the same continent as me, but she does a great job on the things that I don’t have the time, or the skills to do – like creating .pdfs.  If you are in need of a VA, you can’t go wrong with Alex.

To get back to Dan’s points – I’ve always been pretty good at number 1 – do it now.  I run into problems on number 2 and number 4.  I can have a difficult time deciding to dump something.  I am intellectually curious, so I often find myself spending too much time doing things that are interesting and fun, but that do not contribute to my bottom line.  One of my business resolutions for 2008 is to adopt the Pareto Principle in my work.  I am going to apply the 80 – 20 rule and concentrate on the “significant few” and jettison the “trivial many.” 

When it comes to number 4, I have to do a better job of actually following up on things I defer.  Sometimes these things slip through the cracks.  I have gotten better in recent years, but I can still improve in 2008.  I am resolving to make better use of the scheduling function in Outlook.

Those are my ‘08 productivity resolutions.  What are yours?

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website for more common sense.  Check out my other blog: for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business, and to get an electronic copy of my book 4 Secrets of High Performing Organizations.

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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