How the ABCDE method works

abcde method
Ted Scott
Ted Scott
20 March 2024
6 min

Effective time management is an important skill that every successful person needs. Planning helps you organize your life and work so that you can accomplish more important things in less time. In modern time management there are many planning techniques. There is no universal variant among them, everyone chooses a method and tools for himself according to his personal preferences and goals.

Today we will take a closer look at one of the famous planning techniques developed by motivational coach, Brian Tracy, author of the best-selling book, Eat the Frog. It can be used to assess and organize to-do’s so that you can properly categorize them in your daily plans by importance and priority.

Why it’s important to manage time

Why it's important to manage time

If you do not know how to manage your own time rationally, you cannot manage anything else. It is difficult to disagree with this statement made by the American economist Peter Drucker. Time management is one of the top 10 skills that managers want to see in their employees. They prefer to work with performers who complete their tasks on time, respect deadlines, know how to prioritize and plan their day.

In order to properly handle time, first of all, it is worth identifying the reasons that prevent you from using it rationally. These include:

  • Procrastination, the persistent desire to put things off until later.
  • Perfectionism, accompanied by a fanatical desire to bring all tasks to perfection.
  • Lack of knowledge in a particular area that does not allow for prompt completion of assigned work.
  • Lack of skill in time management tools and techniques.

All of these bottlenecks can be eliminated by practicing willpower and self-discipline.

What is the essence of the ABCDE method

Another name for this technique is: “Assessing Consequences”. The essence of the ABCDE method is to make daily lists of tasks and prioritize them. It is quite simple to execute, but it produces excellent results.

Every morning you start by making a list of all the things you need to do during the day. You can do this on a regular piece of paper or use an electronic planner. You don’t need to follow any system when adding them. Include in the list of work, personal tasks. Next, they need to be distributed by priority groups. To do this, each item is marked with the corresponding letter:

  • A – critical matters involving serious consequences in life and work.
  • B – mandatory tasks that also need to be urgently completed, but the consequences for not completing them will not be as serious as in the first case.
  • C – they are desirable to accomplish, but nothing will happen if you postpone them to a later time.
  • D – matters whose execution can be entrusted to others.
  • E – you can safely forget about them and remove them from the list. These are useless, irrelevant or imposed by someone from the outside and will not bring any positive result.

If there are several things with the same letter in the general list, number them in the order of priority: A1, A2, A3 and so on. After you finish working with the list, you will have a checklist for the day. You should perform its items step by step, starting from the position marked with the letter A1. You can move on to the next tasks only after the previous ones are completed.

How to use the ABCDE method in practice

In order not to get confused in the records, it is most convenient to arrange the daily affairs in the form of a table:

GroupTasksPrioritization of execution
ASubmit a design layout for the website Negotiate with the client
Refill the balance of the advertising office
Sign up for a medical examination
BPay utility bills
Advertise your car for sale
Perform vehicle maintenance
CDelete spam and clean up emails
Visit an exhibition
Meet with friends
DOrganize a corporate event for employees
Perform general cleaning
ELeave a comment on
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When the table is completed and labeled, you can proceed to perform the actions described in the table:

  1. We cross off the D group to avoid distractions. You can safely forget about them.
  2. Start working from point A1. Do not let the deadline be missed, the final result should be submitted to the project manager.
  3. Then we perform no less important, but not so urgent tasks: call the client, throw money into the advertising cabinet (there is still a small balance, but you can not delay with this issue).
  4. Make an appointment with your doctor, as keeping healthy is always a priority.
  5. Utilities must be paid on time. Then we submit an advertisement and do a technical inspection after the completion of other urgent matters.
  6. Assign tasks from group D to other performers. Your deputy can organize the corporate party, and hire a cleaning service for the general cleaning. Then you will have enough time to do other things and have a good rest.

By following this method, it will be easier for you to focus on your primary tasks to manage your time with quality and efficiency.

Вопросы для категории А

A list of the following questions will help you understand how important a task is:

  • Doing what actions will bring me closer to my main goals for that day, week, month or year?
  • Is it possible, having accomplished one task, to solve other cases with it?
  • Which ones will be of great benefit or good financial reward to me?
  • What tasks will help contribute the most to the company, the business?
  • Which ones, if not met, will have the most negative consequences?

How to combine the ABCDE method with other time management techniques

The ABCDE prioritization technique fits perfectly with another of Brian Tracy’s techniques: “Eat the Frog”. Its meaning is that you should start any day by accomplishing the most difficult and unpleasant tasks. That is, important things related to key goals and results should be at the top of the prioritization list. Once they are completed, you can move on to other tasks. This way you will get rid of nervousness and stress, because the most difficult work will be done.

In practice, this method combined with the ABCDE technique works like this:

You have made a to-do list of the following items:

  • Finish the presentation – A1;
  • Reply to letters – A4;
  • Calling customers – A3;
  • To amend the contract – A2.

Having completed voluminous, labor-intensive projects, first of all, you will be able to concentrate better, you will not be distracted by extraneous matters. That is, you will definitely bring them to completion.

An Eisenhower matrix can also be used to categorize cases by importance and priority. Both methods are similar but have a number of differences:

Eisenhower matrixABCDE method
Important mattersSquares A and BCategory A
Urgent, but not paramountSquare CCategory B
Important but not urgentSquare DCategory C
Tasks that can be delegated to othersSquare C (sometimes A and B)Category D
Unimportant, minor mattersSquares C and DCategory E

The Eisenhower method and the ABCDE technique can be used to analyze short-term and long-term tasks. For example, make a detailed plan for a week or month, evaluate the importance of all the tasks in it, put the most important activities in the first positions, think about which tasks can be delegated to others, and which ones should be abandoned immediately. Then you will only need to check this list regularly to plan the day’s activities.

How the ABCDE method works in LeaderTask

Best Calendar Apps

You can use various tools to plan your time using the ABCDE method. For example, an ordinary notebook, a diary or a modern business organizer LeaderTask, which combines the functions of a planner, task manager and project management system.

A full set of time management techniques, including the GTD system and Brian Tracy’s ABCDE methodology, is built into the application. The planner is suitable for all types of planning. Thanks to the convenient customization system, you can easily deal with any tasks. Distribute them according to their importance, transfer unfinished tasks to the next day. You will be able to divide large, voluminous tasks into smaller ones, so that you can consistently perform them stage by stage, in small steps. Set deadlines for each task and track them on a calendar.

The program will encourage you to be active by reminding you of deadlines for completing tasks or scheduled meetings. The program will show your progress on a visual graph. In LeaderTask you can manage your own or team projects, create to-do lists, assign them to other executors, and monitor progress.

The app has a high-quality mobile version, synchronizes with many popular apps, works on all digital platforms, including without internet.


Working with a list of tasks from the very first day increases productivity by 25%. For the best results, it is better to plan from the evening, at the end of each working day making a list of things to be done tomorrow. When a new task appears, it is added to the general list, taking into account the priority. After each task is completed, it is crossed off the list. This will be a great motivation for further work.

Every minute of planning saves up to 20 minutes of time. Therefore, it is worth taking this process responsibly and seriously, choosing the most convenient methodology for yourself, for example, ABCDE. By clearly prioritizing, you will increase your productivity, learn to manage time, and always meet deadlines. To increase your productivity even more, use modern tools, such as the LeaderTask service, which will help you control all your tasks in one system.

Professional Task Planner and Organizer
Download the LeaderTask app and enjoy the simplicity and convenience of planning your tasks.