ABC Method of Prioritization
“If it is your job to eat a live frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s metaphor explains it well. The frog is figuratively representing your most important task to be done for the day. The task that will bring you closest to the accomplishment of your goals. The bigger the frog, the more important the task. Therefore, start with the biggest and ugliest frogs.
Certainly, there are dozens of methods of prioritizing and organizing your day. Everyone has a favourite. What works for one person with great success will not be the best method for others. One of my favourite methods comes from the best-selling book by Brian Tracy (not-coincidentally) called Eat That Frog. This is the ABC method of prioritizing whereby you list all your tasks that need to be done for the day and then label them per the following:
A – Tasks which are most important and are closely tied to the achievement of your goals. There are serious consequences for not completing these tasks. “A” tasks are your biggest and ugliest frogs.
B – Tasks which you should do, but which have mild consequences if not completed.
C – Tasks which are nice to do, but which have no consequences at all.
D – Tasks which should be done, but which you can delegate.
E – Tasks which do not matter at all and can be eliminated.
The rule to applying this method is that you can not do a “B” task if there is an “A” task on the list. If you have more than one A on the list, then sub-categorize them with a 1, 2, 3 in order of importance. Do not proceed to your A2 task until your A1 task has been completed. Apply this through to the B-E tasks.
Does it work? If you adhere to the rule, yes it does.
Is this the recommended method for everyone? Not necessarily, there are other methods that may be better for different people and different circumstances.
Should you try it? Yes! Try this method for 21 days and see if it works for you. Remember, it takes 21 days to form a habit, so give it a go for a minimum of 21 days before loving it or moving on to another method.
Have I tried it? Of course! I am naturally an organizer and list maker, so I personally love this method. Like many people, I will tend to procrastinate tedious or difficult tasks in favour of those tasks that are more fun or quick distractions. Early on when I first starting applying this method to my business day I can recall one morning. I had taken 5 minutes and prepared my prioritized using the ABC method. One of my B tasks was to go shopping for something that was needed, but it wasn’t an urgent purchase. Stereotypical woman that I am, I love to shop. I had my coat on and was excitedly ready to walk out the door to shop. Then it hit me. I had an “A” on the list. This “A” was indeed an important revenue generating activity for my business. I sighed and put my coat away, and returned to my office to finish my “A”.
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