Practice the ABC Method and Create Large Chunks of Time
By Brian Tracy & Dr. Peter Chee

"The first law of success is concentration - to bend all the energies to one point, and to go directly to that point, looking neither to the right or to the left." - William Mathews

The more thought you invest in planning and setting priorities before you begin, the more important things you will do and the faster you will get them done once you get started.

The more important and valuable the task is to you, the more you will be motivated to overcome procrastination and launch yourself into the job.

A Simple and Powerful Technique

The ABC Method is a powerful priority setting technique that you can use every single day. This technique is so simple and effective that it can, all by itself, make you one of the most efficient and effective people in your field.

The power of this technique lies in its simplicity. Here's how it works: You start with a list of everything you have to do for the coming day. Think on paper. You then place an A, B, or C before each item on your list before you begin the first task.

Determine Your Top Priorities

An "A" item is defined as something that is very important. This is something that you must do. This is a task for which there can be serious consequences if you do it or fail to do it, like visiting a key customer or finishing a report for your boss that she needs for an upcoming board meeting. These are the frogs of your life.

If you have more than one "A" task, you prioritize these tasks by writing A-1, A-2, A-3, and so on in front of each item. Your A-1 task is your biggest, ugliest frog of all.

Decide on Your Secondary Tasks

A "B" item is defined as a task that you should do. But it only has mild consequences. These are the tadpoles of your work life. This means that someone may be unhappy or inconvenienced if you don't do it, but it is nowhere as important as an "A" task. Returning an unimportant telephone message or reviewing your email would be a "B" task. The rule is that you should never do a "B" task when there is an "A" task left undone. You should never be distracted by a tadpole when there is a big frog sitting there waiting to be eaten.

Analyze the Consequences of Doing It

A "C" task is defined as something that would be nice to do, but for which there are no consequences at all, whether you do it or not. "C" tasks include phoning a friend, having coffee or lunch with a coworker or completing some personal business during work hours. This sort of activity has no affect at all on your work life.

After you have applied the ABC Method to your list, you will now be completely organized and ready to get more important things done faster.

Start on Your A-1 Task

The key to making this ABC Method work is for you to now discipline yourself to start immediately on your "A-1" task and then stay at it until it is complete. Use your willpower to get going and stay going on this one job, the most important single task you could possibly be doing. Eat the whole frog and don't stop until its finished completely.

Your ability to think through, analyze your work list and determine your "A-1" task is the springboard to higher levels of accomplishment, and greater self-esteem, self-respect and personal pride.

When you develop the habit of concentrating on your "A-1," most important activity, you will start getting more done than any two or three people around you.

Create Large Chunks of Time

This strategy requires a commitment from you to work at scheduled times on large tasks. Most of the really important work you do requires large chunks of unbroken time to complete. Your ability to create and carve out these blocks of high value, highly productive time, is central to your ability to make a significant contribution to your work and to your life.

Thoughtfulness may be defined as a careful concern for the secondary consequences of each decision and each action. This is the essence of strategic thinking.

Start Immediately on Number One

Successful salespeople set aside a specific time period each day to phone prospects. Rather than procrastinating or delaying on a task that they don't particularly like, they resolve that they will phone for one solid hour between 10 and 11 AM and they then discipline themselves to follow through on their resolutions.

Many business executives set aside a specific time each day to call customers directly to get feedback.

Create Specific Amounts of Time

Some people allocate specific 30-60 minute time periods each day for exercise. Many people read in the great books 15 minutes each night before retiring. In this way, over time, they eventually read dozens of the best books ever written.

The key to the success of this method of working in specific time segments is for you to plan your day in advance and specifically schedule a fixed time period for a particular activity or task.

You make work appointments with yourself and then discipline yourself to keep them. You set aside thirty, sixty and ninety minute time segments that you use to work on and complete important tasks.

Create Preplanned Periods

Many highly productive people schedule specific activities in preplanned time slots all day long. These people build their work lives around accomplishing key tasks one at a time. As a result, they become more and more productive and eventually produce two times, three times and five times as much as the average person.

Action Exercises

  1. Review you work list right now and put an A, B, or C next to each task or activity. Select your A-1 job or project and begin on it immediately. Discipline yourself to do nothing else until this one job is complete.
  2. Practice this ABC Method every day and on every work or project list, before you begin work, for the next month. By that time, you will have developed the habit of setting and working on your highest priority tasks and your future will be assured!
  3. Here are another two things you can do immediately to put into action what you have just learned:
  4. First, organize each day to create large chunks of time you can use for key task completion.
    Second, make a written appointment with yourself to work on a key task at a specific time.

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