The Leadership Blog

The Double "D" Process of Time Management

change change management growth leadership leadership advice personal growth success success tips time management Jan 21, 2024

We all struggle with time management.  Some of us more than others.  As much intention as I’ve put into maximizing each day, I’ll still have some that just seem to slip away.  It doesn’t happen as often these days, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to the unexpected circumstances of a day occasionally getting the best of me. 

Before we jump into my double “D” strategy of time management, first we need to build the foundation.  You need to take an honest look at how you spend your time.  Each of us has just 86,400 seconds every day.  None of us can actually manage time.  It passes no matter what we do, but we can structure our 24 hours to help us make the greatest impact.  

I’ve sporadically used an activity log to help my team and I squeeze the most out of each day.  I’ve been using this approach for over 20 years.  It’s simple.  You can find a ton of different forms online or just make your own.  All you do is write down EVERYTHING you do as you do it and track how long it takes you.  It’s the first step to identifying the black hole of time wasters.  One of the biggest frustrations in leadership can be that things often take longer than we expect.  From team member updates, to analyzing data, returning phone calls and responding to emails you can only be so efficient when the volume of work seems to keep expanding.  An activity log helps you identify time sucks and allows you to get more efficient.  

Here are some more foundational suggestions to help you with time management.


  • Stop Procrastinating


Before we can do that, we need to understand why we procrastinate.  I’ve enlisted the help of Psychology Today. Research shows anxiety levels are low until the deadline gets close.  That feeling of having plenty of time often leads to our procrastination. However, when the deadline gets closer our anxiety levels shoot up.  We can avoid that unnecessary stress if we don’t procrastinate. 


  • Get Organized


Poor time management happens when we’re disorganized.  Clutter has a negative impact on our well-being. Cleaning up our workspace makes a big difference.  Getting organized helps our time management.  Part two of getting organized involves reducing the time it takes to process information.  I like to use a stoplight approach.  Red means urgent and I do it right away, but it may take longer to complete because it’s complex.  Yellow means it’s a moderate task taking less time and effort than the reds. Green means easy so I should not stew over it.  Just make quick decisions and move on.


  • Set Priorities


I think setting priorities gets easier the longer you’ve been in leadership, but new issues pop up all the time to keep us on our toes.  Making a simple chart like the one below can help when we start to feel overwhelmed.



Not Urgent


Do these tasks as soon as possible.


  • Submit grant application by 5 p.m.
  • Post open position.
  • Address personnel issue.

Defer these tasks until all urgent and important tasks have been completed.


  • Brainstorming new initiatives
  • Reply to a coworker's email regarding a future event.
  • Meet with a team member who wants your opinion.

Not Important

Delegate these tasks to the appropriate people who can manage them.


  • Analyze equipment needs.
  • Deal with building maintenance.
  • Plan company picnic.

Delete these tasks – they’re often time wasters.


  • Respond to social media comments.
  • Stop over processing things.
  • Quit worrying take action instead.


  • Delegate: Get Help from Others


This has been my kryptonite in the past.  I am a doer and I move quickly.  For years I just did everything I could to get things done on my own.  That worked, until it didn’t, and I realized that wasn’t leadership.  I was just being a worker bee. I needed to learn to delegate to help others grow their skills.  When I realized it wasn’t about me dumping work on others, that it was about giving others opportunities, I got better at delegating.

All of these strategies lay the foundation and bring me, finally, to the double “D” process of time management. It all boils down to Diligence and Discipline.  Yep, sounds easy but I know it takes tremendous willpower to stay diligent and disciplined.  Create good habits Every Day (discipline) and stick to your routine (diligence) as if your life depends on it, because it does. I promise it’s worth the effort my friend.  You’ll see the fruits of your labor and once you see results, it gets easier to keep those double “D’s” at the center of your leadership.  None of us can create more time but we can use the time we have more effectively and when I do that, I have more peace and joy in my life no matter what’s going on.