How To Use The 4 Ds Of Effective Time Management

Let’s claim your valuable hours… back!

Bryan Collins
The Startup
Published in
4 min readJul 26, 2018


“An analog timepiece with black number boards” by Loic Djim on Unsplash

Do you sometimes struggle with time management?

Or does the day lack enough hours to attend to your projects, habits, commitments and more?

When half past five rolls around, do you look at your to do list and feel you didn’t accomplish much of anything?

If you’re struggling to take charge of the day, consider using a popular productivity strategy known as the four Ds of effective time management.


Simply put, act!

Before deciding to do a task, I like using the two minute rule from David Allen as a decision framework. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in just 120 seconds: write an email, make a quick phone call, pull a report and so on.

In the productivity book Getting Things Done, Allen explained,

“The rationale for the two-minute rule is that that’s more or less the point where it starts taking longer to store and track an item than to deal with it the first time it’s in your hands — in other words, it’s the efficiency cutoff.”

If your task takes longer than 120 seconds and you still need to do it, work on this task alone for 30 minutes or until you complete it. Remember, multitasking is the enemy of effective time management.


Also known by some writers as drop, delete is the easiest of the four Ds to implement because you don’t have to do much of anything beyond making a simple decision to do or to delete.

Wan Ho has written about this productivity strategy and length and said,

“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.”

Many productivity consultants recommend approaching this D through the gaze of the Pareto Principle. Known as “The 80/20 Rule”, it states 80% of the results come from 20% of causes or activities.



Bryan Collins
The Startup

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