How to Set Priorities Using the ABCDE Method
The more thought you invest into setting priorities before you begin a task, the faster you will get the important things done. The more important and valuable the task is to you, the more motivated you are to overcome procrastination and launch yourself into the job.
William Matthews said, “The first law of success is concentration – to bend all the energies to one point, and to go directly to that point, looking neither to the right or to the left.”
Today, I want to share a method of time-management for setting priorities that I’ve been using for years, called the ABCDE method.
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The ABCDE Method
The ABCDE Method is a powerful priority setting technique that you can use every single day. This technique is so simple and effective that it can make you one of the most efficient and effective people in your field. The ABCDE list is a to-do list on steroids when it comes to learning how to prioritize.
The power of this technique lies in its simplicity because it’s so action oriented.
Here’s how it works: You start with a list of everything you have to do for the coming day. Think on paper. Once you have a list of all of the tasks you must complete, start the ABCDE method.
“A” Items Are Most Important
An A item is defined as something that is very important. This is something that you must do.
This is a task for which there can be serious consequences if you fail to do it. Consequences such as not visiting a key customer or not finishing a report for your boss that she needs for an upcoming board meeting.
These are the frogs of your life.
If you have more than one “A” task, you prioritize these tasks by writing A-1, A-2, A-3, and so on in front of each item. Your A-1 task is your biggest, ugliest frog of all.
“B” Items Only Have Minor Consequences
A B item is defined as a task that you should do. But it only has mild consequences.
These are the tadpoles of your work life. This means that someone may be unhappy or inconvenienced if you don’t do it, but it is nowhere as important as an A task. Returning an unimportant telephone message or reviewing your email would be a B task.
The rule is that you should never do a B task when there is an A task left undone. You should never be distracted by a tadpole when there is a big frog sitting there waiting to be eaten.
“C” Tasks Have No Consequences
A C task is something that would be nice to do, but for which there are no consequences at all, whether you do it or not.
C tasks include phoning a friend, having coffee or lunch with a coworker or completing some personal business during work hours. This sort of activity has no effect at all on your work life.