The ABCDE Method – Time Management Strategies for Success


Do you often find yourself completing every task on your To-Do list and aimlessly wandering around the office? Of course not. Whether you’re a business owner, executive or junior-level manager, it’s more common for today’s professionals to feel as though there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. By learning effective time management strategies, you can optimize your productivity – driving greater business success and increasing your overall happiness.

The ABCDE Method refers to the five ways of allocating your time. As one of the simplest and most effective time management strategies, the ABCDE Method is designed to get you thinking “single-mindedly” about your work because it makes you:

  1. Assess and prioritize every task for which you are responsible, and
  2. Complete your highest value task before moving onto the next.

In fact, Brian Tracy suggests that you could save as much as 80% of the time needed to complete a task by working single-mindedly on it and bringing it to 100% completion in one sitting. That’s because we lose precious minutes (or hours!) getting back on track when our attention wanders away. Imagine what you could accomplish with all that “extra” time!

Step 1: Create a Task List

The first step in implementing this time management strategy is to create a comprehensive list of tasks that need to be completed (aka a To-Do List) and those activities that will take up time in your day.

Make a habit of ending each day with this practice – so your highly productive morning hours aren’t wasted on planning.

Step 2: Organize into ABCDE Tasks

“A” Tasks – These need to be completed well and on-time, or there will be serious consequences. Failing to complete A-level tasks could affect your career, your company’s profitability or your brand’s reputation. Write an “A” next to every must-do task.

“B” Tasks – These have mild consequences but are still important to do. For example, conducting a sales presentation would likely be an A-level task, while responding to emails would likely be a B-level task. Write a “B” next to every task that’s a part of your professional responsibilities but not a top priority.

“C” Tasks – These are those things that you enjoy doing but don’t have any consequences if left unaddressed. Often, these activities are personal in nature, such as shopping online, checking social media, or chatting with a coworker, and while they don’t add directly to your productivity, they feel like an important part of your day. Write a “C” next to every task that isn’t integral to your immediate success.

“D” Tasks – These are those responsibilities that can be delegated. As you move up in your career, you must learn to hand-off lower value tasks to individuals who can complete them reasonably well. Write a “D” next to every task that could be delegated to someone.

“E” Tasks – These are those items that could and should be eliminated. In another of our favorite time management strategies, The Grand SLAM Formula, we’d identify these activities in the Simplification Stage and make the decision to stop doing them all together. Write an “E” next to every task that does nothing to get you towards your goals and/or doesn’t bring significant joy/relaxation/health into your life.

Step 3: Prioritize Each Section

Look at all of the “As”. If there was only one thing you could get done today, what would be most important and most valuable? That’s your A-1 task. Continue through your A list, prioritizing each as A-1, A-2, A-3, etc. Then do the same for your B and C lists. Assign those “D” tasks to specific individuals, so you can stop wasting mental energy on them.

This process ensures you’ll be able to start your day productively – tacking the most important activities from the very start.

Step 4: Commit to the ABCDE Rule

The power of the ABCDE Method depends on your commitment to this essential rule:

You cannot work on a “B” task until all of the “A” tasks are 100% complete.

Similarly, you cannot work on a “C” task if there are any “B” tasks waiting for your attention. Time management strategies like this empower you to save time, get more done, and be more present in the moment (both at work and in your personal life).

For more tips on time management strategies, read our post: 6 Steps for Doubling Your Income & Time Off.

Learn Powerful Time Management Strategies with FocalPoint Canada

At FocalPoint Canada, we guide our clients in overcoming challenges and leveraging opportunities with proven processes and methodologies that have been used by thousands of successful businesses over the past two decades. Our FocalPoint business coaches use their expertise to teach our time-tested methods through individual coaching, group sessions, or trainings and workshops.

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