The ABC method

The ABC method

The ABC method is designed to help you prioritize better. It’s so simple that you can use it every day for all sorts of tasks you need to get done.

Take a piece of paper, post-it notes or open an app that you can easily write notes in.

Write down everything you have to do. Also write down everything you want to do or do to procrastinate.

Did you do it already? Take your time, I’m not going anywhere.

Once you’re done, start to categorize these tasks into three categories – A, B and C. Either make different piles for the post-it notes or write the letters A, B or C before each task in your preferred text editing software/by hand.

A is a very important task. It’s something you just have to do. It has a clear deadline that’s approaching and serious consequences if left undone. Coursework, article revisions or sending in your thesis could be considered ‘A’ tasks. Really think hard about these tasks – all tasks can’t be ‘A’ tasks. Self-care is also an ‘A’ task!

B is a task that you should do. It’s a task that might make someone unhappy if you don’t finish it but it’s not as important as an ‘A’ task. Returning unimportant e-mails or commenting on a colleagues papers are ‘B’ tasks. You should never do a ‘B’ task when there is an ‘A’ task left undone.

C is a task that would be nice to do but no one cares if you do it or not. For example, having coffee with a colleague, cleaning your desk or completing some personal task during work hours. This is stuff that will have no effect on your work life (except maybe that a cleaner desk will help you get more organized).

Now that you’ve categorized all your tasks into these three categories, it’s time to get cracking. Start with an ‘A’ task and get all those on their way. Then move on to a ‘B’ task and finally, when all else is done, you can complete your ‘C’ tasks. Voilá!

Remember that tasks can move between categories: a ‘B’ task can become an ‘A’ task if the deadline is approaching or as it evolves from an synopsis to a manuscript.