Prioritize Your To-Do’s With the ABC Method


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Prioritizing your to-do list is key to getting everything done. You need to make sure you’re allocating enough time to the difficult and important tasks but saving space for the little ones, too. Try the ABC method for categorizing your responsibilities for the day.

What is the ABC method?

Categorizing your tasks by need, timeline, and time necessary for completion is important, which is why some people use the Eisenhower matrix and others overload their Google Calendars. One of the simplest methods was devised by Alan Lakein, an author known for his classic time management books, like How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life. He suggested assigning priority status in terms of “A,” “B,” and “C” to everything you have to do:

  • “A” items are “must-do” tasks that are important or critical and have close deadlines.
  • “B” tasks are “should-do,” meaning they have a medium level of priority, will be important over time, but don’t have a looming deadline.
  • “C” is for anything that is currently low priority, either because it has few immediate consequences or no near deadline.

Determining what is important to do right now and what can wait will help you feel less overwhelmed and figure out what to get cracking on, so you waste less time deliberating about where to even start.

How to incorporate this method into your work day

Go through your entire to-do list and start ranking every task as A-, B-, or C-level. Then figure out what you’re going to do with them. We recommend a method like the 3-3-3 technique, which involves three hours of deep work on a big project (one of your A tasks), the completion of three mid-level projects (there are your Bs), and some time left over for the little tasks (your C items).

You can also designate full days to certain tasks, especially if your A duties are really demanding. Theming your days helps you stay on-task for hours without worrying about other, less important responsibilities, so consider devoting an entire workday to your A work, the next day to B, and the day after that to C. Just remember to re-evaluate your lettering system every morning or so, since even C-level projects can suddenly turn into ones with A-level urgency.



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