ABC Method: What Is This Method? And How To Use It?

Most time management experts will talk to you about prioritizing. Prioritizing is such a huge part of time management, but how do you even start? Enter, ABC Method.

How do you know what to prioritize? How do you figure out how to set these priorities? These are questions that everyone has. And, never fear because there are so many different methods to learn how to prioritize.

What is the ABC Method?

The ABC Method is one of the many methods of setting priorities. The ABC Method helps you to determine what needs to get done, what should get done, and what can wait. It’s incredibly simple and incredibly easy to remember.

Before getting into the benefits of the ABC Method, let’s take a look at how it works:

How to Use the ABC Method

  1. Write out a list of your tasks for the day.
  2. Determine how important each task is.
  3. Write an “A” next to it if it is important.
  4. Write a “B” next to it if it is less important – items with a “B” would have consequences if not completed, but not major ones.
  5. Write a “C” next to it if it doesn’t matter if gets completed.
  6. Start working on tasks with an “A” first.

Simple, right?

The ABC Method will help you to look at your goals for the day and determine what needs to get done. A huge part of time management is getting the most important items done first – that way you’re not struggling at the end of the day to get them finished with all your unimportant tasks finished.

That’s not to say that your “C” tasks don’t need to be done or don’t need to be written on your to-do list. It’s important to still write everything down – even if it doesn’t need to be completed. When you have finished all of your other tasks, you can then get started on your “C” tasks.

The Importance of Prioritizing

Prioritizing is such an important piece to time management. Making a to-do list is great, but just going down the list from top to bottom is not the most effective use of your time. Prioritizing is a great way to maximize your time and efforts on any project.

By working on the most important projects first, you are able to get them out of the way and completed – leaving room for the other projects and tasks that you need to do. When you work this way, you are oftentimes getting the hardest tasks out of the way first, which can help the rest of your day breeze on by.

Some other articles or time management bloggers may recommend that you finish the easiest tasks first so that they are finished, but that is a huge mistake. Doing the simplest tasks first is a grave mistake that can lead to more work along the road. By postponing the most important tasks at hand, you are procrastinating the hardest work that you need to complete. What should you do with a task you don’t want to do? Do it first, of course!

How To Determine A, B, or C

Now you understand how the ABC Method works and why it is so important to prioritize your to-do list, but how exactly do you put this into practice? How can you just look at a list of things and figure out what is an “A” or a “C”? What makes the cut from an “A” to a “B”?

Great questions! Take the first item on your to-do list and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is there a due date on this?
  2. Will there be serious consequences if I don’t get this done? (Loss of job, loss of money, upset family member, etc.)
  3. Do I need to complete this before I can move onto other items on my list?
    If you answered yes to those above questions, then that task is considered an “A” type. Go ahead and mark it as such.

Now, what about those pesky “B” tasks? Those are the tricky ones. We’ll hold off on those and focus on the “C” tasks – the ones that are there as reminders, but not necessary for your life.

  1. Would you like this to get done today, but it isn’t going to affect your life? (an example would be reorganize your closet or get the car washed – think along those lines).
  2. Would anyone notice if you completed this task today versus tomorrow?
  3. Does anything else rely on you completing this task?

If you answered yes, no, no – then that task you are pondering about is probably going to be a “C.”
So, the “A”s and “C”s are pretty simple to figure out. Ask yourself a few quick questions and you can easily figure them out. Now, all those remaining tasks are probably a “B.” Maybe you need to get it done to move onto something else, but it wouldn’t be earth shattering. Maybe the due date is so far off that it wouldn’t make a difference if you started today or tomorrow. These are the kinds of things that will help you better prioritize your daily to-do list.


Eventually, you will learn what tasks to do first without figuring out what is an “A” or a “C.” Prioritizing can become a second nature. You will be able to just think about your upcoming list and immediately know exactly what to start on.

The ABC Method is a great way to get started on a new project. It’s also a great way to start practicing your time management skills in the beginning. Prioritizing is such a huge and important element of time management. So much so that it should be one of the first skills mastered by anyone that is trying to become a pro at managing their time.

By taking advantage of these different methods of prioritizing, you will soon be well on your way to becoming a master of time management and an expert at planning your day!

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