Successful planning lies in your prioritisation – ABCDE

In the first article, we briefly discussed the importance of making the decision, discipline and determination, and in the second article we discussed the importance of planning.

Part of planning involves writing a list of tasks that need to be accomplished in order to reach milestones by the deadlines set.

It might be tempting to start on the easy tasks first, a feeling that many have because of the immediate rush of happy hormones that you may feel as you tick off the items on the list… however, it may not be the wisest of choices.

Easy tasks are commonly tasks that need to be repeated on a regular basis, and/or have very low value.  They may take up time that could otherwise have been spent on more important tasks that give a much higher return on the investment of time made.

Most tasks, actually do not get you to where you want to be.  In fact, the commonly quoted 20/80 rule is that 20% of your tasks account for 80% of the progress required to finish a project.  Yet we spend most of our time on the 80% easy tasks that mean nothing more than 20% of the progress of a project.

Not only that, but those majority tasks that make up the 80% can also sometimes be delegated to others, or even eliminated, while you focus on the more difficult portion of the project that generally you, and only you, can complete.  Let us call this an “A” core task

In other words, prioritise your list of things to do based on the weighing the task has on project completion.  This of course will also depend on whether there are sequential steps that are required before getting to the “A” task.  For example, you may need to clean the working area first before you sit down and start on the A core task. 

The “A” core task is one that is significant, time consuming, and possibly one that you wish to procrastinate on, yet must be done.  Procrastination, by the way, is the killer of all projects.  Yet due to the significant of this A core task, it should not be put off or delayed at all, and if so, the deadline becomes ever so hard to reach.

If this core task is so large it can not be done at once or in one sitting, then it needs to be broken down in to sizable portions that can be worked on daily until the task is completed.

Once completed, then you can move on to the B task.  The B task is a core task that should be completed, however, not before the A task and certainly is not as time sensitive as the A task.

C tasks are again of lower importance, can be delayed, and will not affect your timelines in terms of reaching milestones and deadlines, but would be nice to do.  They are the decorative icing on the cake rather than the cake itself.

D tasks are ones that can be delegated.  They are tasks that you can perform, but will take up your time and move you away from the A tasks.  Any one can perform them, yet some people find it difficult to delegate tasks.  Make it a habit to delegate tasks that can be so delegated so that they can be done, while freeing you up to attend to those tasks that you alone can do.

And then we have the E tasks.

The E tasks take up much of our time.  We enjoy them because they relieve us from the pressure of having to do any A or B tasks.  E tasks are our tickets to the procrastination spaces that kills projects, destroys any chance of reaching milestones, and blows out deadlines, as well as budgets.

They are things that must be ELIMINATED.


Once you have written your list of things to do, prioritise your list so you attend to the most important and

 significant tasks first, noting that generally 80% of your workload is completed through 20% of the tasks.

Prioritise them using the many different methods available, one which was mentioned here, and is called the ABCDE.

A = Those high priority, time sensitive, usually difficult tasks.

B = Tasks that can wait, but still necessary to do.

C = Tasks that would be nice to do, but not as important as B.

D = Tasks that can be delegated.

E = Tasks that can be eliminated.

Once you have your list, identify which on the list deserves which letter, and then proceed in completing the A tasks first.  Once done, the rest of the tasks are much easier to perform, and you will find yourself way ahead of the pack.

A final comment is, that you find you have multiple As, Bs and Cs etc, further prioritise them by using numbers.  So you would perform A1 task before A2, and completing all the A numbered tasks before moving on to the B tasks and so on.

(Last Updated on September 1, 2022)