This article was based on a Pauwels Consulting Academy session on time management, provided by Luc Keppens from T&C Training & Consultancy. 

Do you want to manage and spend your time as efficiently as possible? The only solution is to set priorities. Make sure you use the evening preceding any given working day to prioritise the tasks you have to carry out on the day in question.

If you can’t manage this for any reason, set priorities in the morning, before you begin your first task. This reduces stress, improves focus and lowers the risk of procrastination. You have no idea where to start? Help is at hand with the Eisenhower quadrant.

The quadrant isn’t enough? In that case, use the ABCDE method below.

Setting priorities with the ABCDE method

The ABCDE method works as follows. First, make a list of all the tasks you have to carry out. Then classify each task as A, B, C, D or E, whereas:

  • A stands for ‘very important tasks’: if you fail to carry out these tasks quickly, the consequences for you are serious. For example, if you fail to make a payment, you will be given a substantial fine or if you do not apply in time, you will never get the job.
  • B stands for ‘less important tasks’: if you fail to carry out these tasks quickly, the consequences for you are not serious. For example, failing to call a colleague before a certain time to update them about a meeting is not associated with lasting consequences.
  • C stands for ‘nice tasks to do’: these are tasks without consequences, such as having lunch with a former colleague. If you can free the time, great, but if you can’t meet up this month, it’s not the end of the world.
  • D stands for ‘tasks to delegate’: if someone else can carry out a task better than you can, it’s better to delegate it to them, so you can concentrate on the tasks you are uniquely good at. This is not always possible, of course, but it can greatly increase your productivity.
  • E stands for ‘tasks you can eliminate’: these are irrelevant tasks, but often the ones that we spend too much time on. Do you really need to go to the supermarket every day or can you go just once or twice a week for example?

Two crucial keys to success with the ABCDE method

The first and most important key to success with the ABCDE method is that you can only start on B tasks once all the A tasks have been completed. The same applies to C tasks, etc.

Tip: dealing with e-mails is a B task that you have to schedule in your diary every day. Choose fixed periods in the morning, afternoon and/or evening to deal with your e-mail, so you can concentrate during the rest of the day on more important A and B tasks.

The second key to success is to remain disciplined and not deviate from your schedule because of unexpected issues: colleagues with urgent questions, phone calls, e-mails, etc.

Are you interested or do you have any questions?

Do you have questions, tips or suggestions about time management or would you like to attend a Pauwels Consulting Academy session on time management?

Céline, our Learning & Development Coordinator, will be happy to help you. You can also reach Céline personally via +32 9 276 31 43 or [email protected].

Did you find this article interesting? Do not hesitate to share it with your network. The more efficiently we can work together, the better!

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