Colored ABCDE method
It’s pretty simple and requires no tools or special training.
All you need is some knowledge and understanding of the level of importance of each of your tasks, since each one gets assigned a letter on that basis.
‘A’ Tasks - Red
It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that the most important tasks get assigned an ‘A’.
These are the tasks that you must do. They are too critical to ignore and usually have serious consequences if you don’t do them. They are also likely to have the biggest potential upsides if you do accomplish them.
If you have more than one item ranked A in your list, you then sub-rank them with a numerical suffix, e.g A-1, A-2, A-3, etc. A-1 gets priority.
Ideally, you should only have one item in the ‘A’ category, but if you feel you have more, keep it down to a maximum of three. After all, a priority by definition is something regarded as more important than others and if you keep adding to the ‘A’ list, you’re kind of back to just having a regular, unprioritized list of things to do.
‘B’ Tasks - Orange
These are tasks that are also important but don’t have a critical deadline and the consequences of failing to do them are much smaller than the A Tasks. So, for example, returning most calls or emails might fall into their category.
You can view these as tasks that you should do, but never before you have completed all of the ‘A’ tasks.
‘C’ Tasks - Yellow
Some tasks could be classed as ‘nice to do’, but don’t have any consequences ‘C’ Tasks have no consequences if you don’t complete them.
We have to watch out for these, as they can be the ones that we gravitate towards and love to work on the most. They can be quick and easy to accomplish, but usually don’t contribute much towards your goals.
‘D’ Tasks - Blue
‘D’ Tasks get a ‘D’ status if they can be delegated to someone else.
Tracy says that you should delegate everything you possibly can to others as it frees up time to engage in the ‘A’ activities. I used to view delegating as lazy and just off-loading my cr*p onto someone else, which probably explains why I ended up spending way too much time doing ‘C’ and ‘D’ Tasks and not enough on the ones that could make a difference to my progress.
‘E’ Tasks - Green
Any task that doesn’t fit into the criteria for A, B, C or D get an ‘E’ and should be eliminated from your list altogether. ‘E’ Tasks are basically irrelevant tasks.
Whenever a new task or project comes up, it should be entered on your To-Do list and designated the appropriate A to E status before you start work on it. Tracy notes that you should try to avoid working on anything that isn’t on the list, others you’ll end up getting caught up in low-value activities.
I think this is a good point, as it encourages you to maintain a proactive working style, rather than constantly reacting to the demands of others, which as I have discussed in other posts on this blog, is a sure way to lose control of your time.
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