Prioritising Like A Pro : The ABCDE Method

In the words of William Matthews, “The first law of success is concentration – to bend all the energies into one point, and to go directly to that point, without looking left or right.” A human mind can be distracted pretty easily and as new things keep coming in our lives, it’s natural for us to get overwhelmed with new ideas and set our priorities incorrectly. If you want to bring change to your life, it’s important to know what’s most valuable to you. In short, it’s about setting your priorities correctly. But, how do you do that?

Here, we will talk about the simple, time-management method for setting priorities, the ABCDE method. It’s a powerful priority setting technique that you can use every day, even for your routine tasks. All you have to do is simply make a list of your tasks and assign them to the following letters.

“A” items are must do tasks

  • Too critical to ignore
  • Could have serious consequences if you fail to deliver

For example, what will be the consequences if you fail to complete a report that your manager needs for an important upcoming meeting?

If you have more than one “A” task, you can prioritize them by naming them A1, A2, and so on. Here, A1 would be your highest priority.

“B” items are should do tasks

  • Tasks you should do but those which have mild consequences in case you fail to complete them
  • Don’t have a critical deadline
  • Can usually be postponed if necessary
  • Lead to improved performances

The rule is that you should not start with a ‘B’ task when there is an ‘A’ task left undone.

“C” items are nice to do tasks

  • They are nice to perform
  • Don’t have as critical deadlines as tasks ‘A’ and ‘B’
  • Have no consequences if not delivered
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As a rule, you should not start with or complete task ‘C’ when your ‘A’ and ‘B’ tasks are still pending.

“D” items are tasks to delegate

  • Can be delegated to someone else if they are better at doing them
  • Lead to focus on tasks one is uniquely good at

The rule is that you should delegate as much as possible. Firstly, it frees up your time to focus on tasks ‘A’ that are more important, and secondly, it lets you empower your team to take up important work independently.

“E” items are tasks to eliminate

  • Essentially irrelevant tasks
  • One often spends too much time on them
  • Not important in the bigger picture

After all, you can only get your time to do important things in life when you put a complete stop to things that are no longer necessary for you to do.

Review your tasks right now and put them in the A, B, C, D, or E category according to the priority and importance. Select your A1 task and start working on that immediately. Jump to less relevant tasks in the list only when you successfully accomplish your ‘A’ tasks. Practice this ABCDE Method every day for a month and see how it goes. Let us know how you do!

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