At THP, we talk a lot about the 4Ps in marketing behind every successful brand: the right Product, at the correct Price, aligned to right Place, backed by ample Promotion.
We also have our famous six core values, which govern THP’s approach to business. These are all about developing the right attitude to generate results.
But achieving these results always boils down to effective time management, known as the 4Ds. These help people to develop skills, which often do not come naturally, especially to new recruits, many of whom have only just left school. It’s an important part of our training.
There are four clear principles: Do, Defer, Delegate and Drop. This is how we apply them.
Do: results require action. At THP, we are doers and highlight the importance of delivering commitments in full and on time (IFOT). But in order to do this, we need to understand which tasks to prioritize and be realistic about how long they will take.
Some management guides advise initially focusing on tasks that only take a couple of minutes to complete. They argue that getting these out of the way, helps to build momentum for more important tasks later in the day, or further along a project.
This is certainly true. But focusing on these kinds of tasks, such as clearing out emails, also takes up valuable energy. I think it is the other way round: the most successful people tackle the most important tasks first and foremost.
Defer: Tasks that do not need to be handled straight away can be delayed. By the same token, it is not good to put off tasks that require urgency. As the English novelist Charles Dickens once said: “procrastination is the thief of time.”
However, when a particularly important or demanding task is finished, the science shows that is good to momentarily defer the next one while our brains transition. The neuroscientist Elaine Fox recently came up for a great description for the benefits of this in her new book: Switchcraft. She calls it the productive void.
Too often we think that we don’t have time for a coffee, a quick walk around the block, or a chat with a colleague. But this “dead time” between tasks aids productivity and clear thinking because it enables the brain to disengage from one task and engage with the next.
Delegate: We teach THPers to take responsibility and ownership of their work. But a big part of this involves recognizing when someone else is better qualified to do execute a task instead. Effective teamwork means aligning key skills and strategies to get the best results.
Drop: One of the reasons why so many people feel overwhelmed by work is because they are bombarded with emails, messages and alerts all day long. As I wrote in a previous blog post, digital distractions are the bane of a productive working day.
We all know the benefits of being more disciplined about sticking to the task in hand. Socializing, snacking and searching the Internet should be left for break times, or at home.
THP’s sixth core value highlights how Today Is Better Than Yesterday But Not As Good As Tomorrow. One area of working life, which always benefits from this, is time management. Every day, I try to be a little more productive than the one before. The results are always worth it!