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The 4D/A Method To Deal With A Massive Workload

September 24th, 2018

When we talk about workload, the image that comes to our mind is a desk full of piles of files. Nowadays, hardly can you see this scenario for real as there is no more paperwork now. But, the situation hasn’t changed at all. The workload still remains, or maybe we can say, is getting heavier and heavier.

The overwhelming workload is when a person is paralyzed and clueless about what and where to begin and ends up doing nothing. We understand massive action brings massive results, but it doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself.

“Feeling overwhelmed is actually a stress response when the demand on us outweighs our resources,” says Diana Dawson, career psychologist and owner of Working Career. "Feeling out of control and under pressure is a form of emotional overloading and can also trigger the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline," she adds.

Everyone has only 24 hours a day. Then why do some people manage everything while you pin yourself down? Well, you too can if you practice these few simple mental tricks.

Som Bathla, an author at Medium, has shared a mental trick to take control of such an overwhelming workload known as the 4D/A Rule. This rule says that for any activity, you have to choose one amongst 4Ds and A. Next time when any task arrives, you have to test that task on the parameter of 4D/A. It means you have to put that activity into any of the below-stated actions:

  • Delete it;

  • Defer it,

  • Delegate;

  • Do it,

  • Automate it.


Delete it — For sure, not all work needs to be done. Learn to let go. Prioritize your work and skip all those that can wait or are not that important to you. For example - tons of emails just marked a cc to you, which require no inputs from you and even no action from you soon. So, delete them from your daily to-do list.

Defer it — Postpone it to a later time as per your priorities.

Delegate it — Share the load. If you think the work does not require specialized expertise of your level and someone else can take care of it instead of you, pass it on. Assign the work to that person and take up the next one.

Do it — Of course, the work which has to be done by you must be done by you only. If your task does not fit into any of the above categories, you have to intervene and do it yourself within the deadline.

Automate it — In the modern world, when everything is becoming high-tech, you might get your work done using automation software or services. So if there is such a way, make use of it and automate your work activity. For example - setting up automated bill payments for your electricity, telephone, mobile, broadband, satellite TV, or any magazine subscriptions, etc. It will only take time once to set up those, but then, you never have to do it again for months or even years.

So keep in mind these tricks. And whenever you feel like there are too many things on your plate, apply the 4D/A Rule and then proceed. By minimizing the number of activities on your list, you have a sense of liberation, and you can throw the rock of procrastination out of your head.

Apart from this practice, the following are the few other tips that will help you beat your stress and stop feeling overloaded.

  • Think big and start small. Start with small tasks and finish one by one. The feeling of completion will give you further motivation to move on to the next. Remember, a little momentum is better than none.

  • Talk. Inform your senior/boss about your workload. Do not suffer in silence. “Explain to your boss the tasks you are involved in, how long they take, the resources they require, why you find them challenging, and practical suggestions for a solution,” suggests Sarah Connell, a business psychologist and founder of MindingMe Psychologists.

  • Learn to say no. This applies not just to your work but in your life as well. “people often say yes to everything because they think if they do not obey, they will be rejected. In a working environment, people might think they are lucky to have a job, so it is best to keep their head down and not fuss" says psychotherapist and life coach Hilda Burke. “Challenging this type of work programming can take some time, but it can be done. Saying no shows you busy already, which can be a good message to give out,” she adds.

  • Take a break, eat healthy, stay healthy. When overwhelmed with work, what we all do is putting our health at a greater risk. Lack of sleep, junk food consumption, skipping exercise, cigarettes - all these are stress traits. It is okay to take a break in between and relax. Always keep your health as your first priority. Give your mind and body proper rest.


Work will keep on coming, but your life is lived once. So, do not try to burden yourself up and take up things more than you can bear. You are not a superhuman to do everything in a day itself. Analyze, prioritize, and then try to slowly and steadily win the race as rushing will not do any good


Mukesh Ram

Founder and CEO, Acquaint Softtech

I love to make a difference. Thus, I started Acquaint Softtech with the vision of making developers easily accessible and affordable to all. Me and my beloved team have been fulfilling this vision for over 15 years now and will continue to get even bigger and better.

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