Adapted from What to Do When There's Too Much to Do (Berrett-Koehler, 2012) by Laura Stack
I've taught my 6-D Information Management System since the 1990s (lots of people have created takeoffs on this system). I call it the 6-D System because it's based on six decisions, all beginning with the letter “D”, You can use the system to process and fine-tune any type of information. In this section, we'll first review the general meaning for each ‚“D, ‚” and then we'll apply the decisions to the three most common media in the modern workplace: paper, e-mail, and voicemail.
Six Basic Decisions
I've put this decision first, because whatever you don't get rid of, you'll have to work through your system. You'll benefit from getting rid of as much as possible at the outset. Don't think‚“I might need this again someday.” Instead, ask yourself, “Why should I keep this?" Have a good reason to keep something. Otherwise, take a deep breath and toss it!
- Delegate. If you can't throw something away, perhaps you can give it away to someone else. This doesn't always mean delegation in a formal sense, if the person doesn't work for you. In fact, you may actually be the one to whom work is delegated. So sometimes you could“Discuss” the issue (that might be another good“D” here), or you could‚“Distribute” it. The goal is to transfer it from your sphere of control to someone else's.
- Do. The item requires your personal action, and you can handle it right then.
There's future action required, but you can't do it now. Some people have tried to use the words “Delay” or “Defer” in this instance, but I caution against doing so, because those terms don't specify how long you're delaying it. (This would be like having a giant folder called “Pending” or “Waiting on.”) Instead of continually scanning a list or pile over and over again, be specific with this step and assign a date you need to see, think about, or otherwise handle the item again.
These items need to be filed in a drawer for future reference. No action is required, but you can't toss it either. You might want to access it again just in case, so you should save it.
- Deter. Stop the information from ever coming across your desk or landing in one of your inboxes again. You're not merely throwing it away; you're making sure you've eliminated the possibility it will come back to you. You may have to take some extra steps to make sure you stop these items in their tracks.
What to Do When There's Too Much To Do
Reduce Tasks, Increase Results, and Save 90 Minutes a Day
By Laura Stack
July 2012; $15.95; 192 pages