What is the ABC Method of Time Management   

What is the ABC Method of Time Management   

August 3, 2022

The ABC method of time management is highly effective and requires minimal effort. It’s all about prioritizing your tasks.

This simple technique can significantly improve your time management and productivity.

Let’s see how the method works its magic.

ABC method of time management – the basics

Created by Alan Lakein, the technique itself is very straightforward. Moreover, it can be done in just a few minutes a day.

You first recognize both the urgency and importance of a task. Then you categorize into one of the three categories – A, B, or C.

Category A

This category is reserved for the highest-priority tasks. It contains the most urgent activities you need to tend to – ones you cannot skip or move to a later date.

As you can imagine, these are the tasks you will be focusing on and completing first.

Assigning an “A” can be difficult in the beginning. Hence, we suggest starting with the absolute basics and only assigning them to the most urgent and important things on your to-do list.

Those are the things you need to do right now. Otherwise, you won’t be able to say you were productive at all.

Assigning an A to the task gives it a sense of emergency and importance. This way, you will be able to feel accomplished daily by finishing those tasks as well.

Category B

This category contains less urgent matters that are still relatively high in priority. The entire ABC method of time management is useful because of this simplicity.

You start with B tasks once you’ve finished the A tasks. In other words, you will know exactly what your next step should be.

Even though these tasks aren’t essential to your work, they are still important enough. They need to be done for you to be able to continue working.

B tasks can also be as important as an A task but have a longer deadline. That is to say, at some point, some B tasks will go to the A category.

Category C

The final category in this technique includes tasks that are less important or urgent.

They don’t have immediate deadlines or a significant impact on your productivity. In other words, you can postpone them for a while.

The natural progression of a C-tier task is moving up to the B category. Many tools for productivity improvement provide an opportunity to switch between task priorities. They help you visualize the day in front of you.

How to Use the Method?

This method works well for both short-term and long-term goals. You can apply it to plan your days, weeks, or even months ahead.

This way, it becomes easier to determine your priorities and where to focus your attention considering both upcoming tasks and their level of importance.

The biggest benefit of the ABC method of time management is that it doesn’t allow you to get lost. You can revise the priorities as you go, but the most important ones will always be at the top of your list. That is to say, you will prevent two things.

  • not knowing your next step after you’re done with your current one
  • feeling like you weren’t as productive as you should have been.

We understand that implementing a new time management technique is easier said than done. So, we’re here to help you get started with some implementation tips.

How to Know Which Tasks Are Important?

Not all tasks are the same. Some take more time and resources than others and need to be done in a specific order. However, these two aspects are not always connected.

For example, a quick phone call may only take a few minutes, while organizing an office party can be time-consuming. But it’s clear which task should be your first focus.

What About the Deadlines?

The difference in priority isn’t always as obvious as in our example. Some tasks can have the same priority. Yet, if one needs to be done by the end of the week, while the other doesn’t have a defined deadline, it is very easy to categorize them. In other words, urgency is equally as valuable as task importance when deciding what to do first.

You can even mark the tasks in the same category with a symbol or a number. This will signify which one to do first.

Plan Constantly

Planning is essential in the ABC method of time management. Time tracking tools help you stay updated on current plans. It’s important to incorporate daily planning and adjust task categories based on changing priorities.

As our work lives evolve, tasks may change in importance. To optimize your plan, it must align with these shifting priorities.


It is extremely easy to fall into a rut when an employee’s schedule is recurring. In other words, they may stick to their habits once they’ve established them, even though there may be a better way.

This is why it’s extremely important to revise your ABC plans after some time. See whether there is a way to increase productivity when shuffling things around for a bit. In other words, don’t sacrifice your personal preferences to accommodate any time management method. It is more important to be productive (and not miserable) than to follow any advice blindly.
in other words – make improvements and adjust the system to help you.

Reexamine on the Company Level

This step is geared toward managers and team leaders. You need to make sure your teams are performing well and there are no hiccups related to their workload.

You can help your employees prioritize and keep up with the most important tasks. this will take some time and getting used to, so we recommend using Employee timesheets to make sure everyone is pulling their weight and identify who is struggling.


This may sound counterproductive, but it is better to overestimate the time needed for a specific task. In other words, you will give yourself some leeway if things take an unexpected turn. A longer deadline is a good way to prevent miscommunication or dissatisfaction with your client.

This is especially important when it comes to tasks your team hasn’t faced yet. Learning a new skill takes time, and your clients will always be expecting high-quality work when it comes to their projects.

Don’t overwork

The ABC method doesn’t require constant work for eight hours straight. Breaks are essential for long-term productivity. So, your plan should include designated break times.

Some people allocate 25% of their planned time as a buffer for potential emergencies. It’s important to consider this practice, although it may not be feasible for everyone. This is known as overestimation.

Employers should ensure that future plans are realistic and achievable without additional changes. It’s crucial to consider the risks of overworking and burnout.

Learn About Your Distractions

Distractions are a huge issue when it comes to successful time management. It is important to understand that completely removing them isn’t possible. Yet, you can do your best to reduce their impact on your work.

Distractions have a way of making us feel like we don’t have enough time. This, in turn, can make us frustrated with our work. Internet distractions, for example, can take a significant portion of your time. All that while you don’t even notice you’re online.

It is important to bring some mindfulness to your work. planning isn’t enough to keep yourself productive. Learn the causes of your time crunches and try to reduce them as much as possible. a time audit can be a great way to do so.

Stop Multitasking

The point of the ABC method in time management is to prioritize. Multitasking defeats the purpose of all the preparatory work you’ve done. Namely, if you multitask, you will have to switch from one task to another. This requires you to stop focusing on one thing and refocus on something else.

These changes can be detrimental to your productivity and your mind. Especially so if you’re mixing tasks from different categories. Additionally, the quality of your work can decrease. Thinking about two things simultaneously isn’t a great choice if you need to focus either.

Hence, one of your ABC plan’s main functions should be to help you see the most important tasks to their fruition.

To Summarize the Method

The ABC method of time management is a way to arrange your time so you have more control over it. You do this by finishing your most important and urgent tasks first and then choosing the secondary tasks. There is a balance between a strict schedule and freedom to choose that enables you to plan both effectively and with relatively low stress levels.

The Biggest Benefit of the Method

Staying organized and prioritizing tasks can be challenging. The shift to remote work has revealed the lack of organization and independence in many teams. However, the ABC method of time management brings clarity to priorities.

The technique is straightforward and doesn’t consume much time. Daily assessments are concise and focused, aiming to provide a clear overview of the work ahead of you. Continuity is important in applying this method effectively.

Why Is Context Important?

Every position has a limited number of tasks. There are things that you do and many more things you don’t do in your workdays. These things start to get repetitive relatively quickly. If you cannot prioritize well, you will feel like you’ve been doing menial tasks for days on end.

However, understanding the importance of your tasks also gives importance to your work. If the ABC method works for you, you will be leaving work knowing you’ve done something important. This is a great confidence-booster and can propel you into understanding the importance of your own productivity.

To Conclude

The ABC method of time management is like a well-organized to-do list. It teaches us about urgency and importance in a changing work environment.

Priorities change, workloads vary with important and smaller tasks.

Deadlines, importance, scope, and instructions from managers influence task priority.

Understanding the bigger picture means assessing the entire workload. Clear communication of priorities within the team is vital.

The ABC method takes all of this into consideration. This way, it helps companies understand project progress and prioritize tasks accurately.

We hope our short intro helped you understand the method.

Also – test out other methods, as no solution is perfect.


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