The ABCDE Method

In Brian Tracy's book, Eat that Frog, he goes over 21 ways to overcome procrastination.  I found the overall book helpful and useful, but I did pull from it a few key methods that were new to me.  If you have a serious problem with procrastination, I definitely recommend this book to you so that you can find which methods strike a chord with you.

My top takeaway from the book is the ABCDE method.

ABCDE Method.jpg

First, have a list of all the things that you need to do or you feel like you need to do.  Since an all encompassing list could feel overwhelming, I would recommend you keep it within a time frame of a week or a month.  Remember to list everything you can think of.  The more you have, the easier to see where you should be spending your energy and effort.

For illustration purposes, I'll make a list of my to-dos for today below.

  • Take out the trash
  • Read
  • Do laundry
  • Work on commission
  • Work on book cover commission
  • Go to the library
  • Go to the bank
  • Clean kitchen
  • Schedule Success Design phone calls
  • Go to the A Gallery

Once all the tasks are down on paper, you're ready for the ABCDE method.  First, mark each task that absolutely must be done with an A.  Tracy says that this can be multiple tasks and to rank them by the level of their importance with, "A-1, A-2, A-3, etc."  He also identifies these tasks as your "frogs" in "Eat that Frog".

Next, mark the things that you should do with a B.  These are tasks that have mild consequences, but you really should do them.  The C items are those that would be nice to do, but they don't carry any real consequence.  

The D items are those that you should delegate and the E items are those that you should just eliminate altogether. 

So, let's go through my task list:

  • D - Take out the trash
  • C - Read
  • B - Do laundry
  • A-2 - Work on commission
  • A-3 - Work on book cover commission
  • C - Go to the library
  • B - Go to the bank
  • D - Clean kitchen
  • A-1 - Schedule Success Design phone calls
  • C - Go to the A Gallery

I've noticed, in my practice of this method, that I almost never have an "E task" or a task that can just be eliminated altogether.  I think my brain already eliminates those items before they even make it onto the list!  It is really helpful to acknowledge it as an option, though.  

Since I've been using this method, however, the number of things that I have begun to delegate has increased.  This has been a huge help and a reduction in stress because I no longer feel like I am responsible for doing it all.  If I do have a particularly productive day and I'm completing tasks left and right, I do take back those "D items" and complete them myself, that way I haven't outworn the help when I really need it!

Also, I think it's important to note that some items on my list can increase in priority.  If I haven't read for a couple of days or I have book due to the library, their labels can go from C to B to even A in a matter of days.  I try to do these things before they get critical, though.

Do you have a method of prioritizing?  Have you tried this method before?  I'd love to hear about your experiences!