The ABC’s of Priority
Updated on 04.13.23
Do you know your ABCD’s? The ABCD system is nothing new if you come from business school. For others like me, it comes as a revelation when dealing with many tasks at once. I believe multitasking is a fairy tale. It is the ideal skill for those who can do it all. But when you look at the bigger picture, multitasking means breaking your attention span into many pieces. Each piece takes the space of a minute, sometimes even a second. In the end, there is a lot of time you lose. You have to start over and over again thinking about which tasks you were doing. I was like this, and it was stressful. I could do it, but I did not enjoy it.
What is the ABCD system?
The credit often goes to Eisenhower. He was an American General turned President.
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”– Dwight D. Eisenhower
ABCD stands for:
- A : urgent and important tasks
- B : important but not urgent tasks
- C : unimportant but urgent tasks
- D : Discard (unimportant and non-urgent tasks)
I rarely make use of D anymore. But it is good to implement according to the number of tasks you have to do.
There are many ways people use this system, and it all depends on your priorities and if you have a team or not. In my case I enjoy mixing them in a certain order to keep me from being mentally stuck in a task. What I am showing here is my way of using it.
This is how I used it
When I started using this, I was using google sheets. I would set up a list of tasks, with dates and the classification. The tasks of the day will highlight automatically with each priority under a different color; red for A, green for B, and black for C and D.
This way, I had a clear overview of what needed to happen that day. Calls to follow up, cases to check the status of, reports to write, and so on.
👉 If you like sheets like me, you can use my template and adjust the colors, and logo as you wish.
This is how I now use it
During quarantine, I use it also in my personal life to prioritize what I need to study or work on first, like job hunting and webinars or even shores.
I worked with a mix of priorities to keep things interesting. So you do not need to stick to A first and then B. Just make sure you make time for A and B during the day. I would often start with an unimportant but interesting task, then work on an A task, and then another C followed by a B. I do not use D now because of so many years of practice. I can now kind of intuitively discard tasks before putting them on my list.
Now, instead of google sheets, I use notion, and I love it!
I created a task database where I classify a task with date, ABC, and status. I proceed to call this table on my dashboard by filtering only the tasks of today and yesterday, which are not done. If I forgot something from the previous day, I can try to do it if it is not duplicate, or I have time. I also include on my dashboard a calendar overview for “home” tasks, so I do not forget appointments, birthdays, and so on.
The reason I moved to notion is that inside each task, I am able to make notes, keep track of something or even draft a blog post!
It is a great overview of the balance of your tasks. Not everything is overwhelming, and I do not have to stop to think about what I should work on first from the list. Which was often the problem and the reason I didn’t enjoy to-do lists.
It is perfect if you have an overwhelming amount of tasks to go through the day! Let me know if you try it out and how it went! 🙂 Feel free to also use my notion template!