How to set the priorities within your to-do-list with an ABC analysis

By Charlotte Björsjö

How to set the priorities within your to-do-list with an ABC analysis

Recently I wrote a blog post about ‘How to get through your to-do list..’ but sometimes it’s hard to find the strategy how to make the correct prioritisations within your to-do-list. Let me in short present one way to decide your prioritisations.

ABC analysis – the power lies in its simplicity

The ABC analysis is often used in material management for inventory categorisation and uses the Pareto principle of 80/20 rule which focuses on vital few from trivial many. 

This technique is used to categorise large data into three segments; A, B, and C:

  1. Tasks that are urgent and important
  2. Tasks that are important but not urgent
  3. Tasks that are unimportant


How ABC analysis works in 4 steps

Start with a list of everything you need to do for the coming day. Place an A, B, or C at each item on your list before you start the first task. 

1. Find your ‘A’ tasks

 ‘A’ tasks are very important—something you simply must do! This is a kind of task that creates serious consequences if you don’t do it or fail to do it, like visiting a key customer or pay the rent.

If you have more than one ‘A’ task, you prioritise these tasks by writing A-1, A-2, A-3 where your A-1 task is your most important one.

2. Decide your ‘B’ tasks

‘B’ tasks are tasks you need to do but have mild consequences if you don’t do it. Someone might be unhappy if you don’t do it, but it’s not as important as an ‘A’ task. Reviewing your email can be an example of a ‘B’ task. You should never do a ‘B’ task if there is an undone ‘A’ task.

3. Do you have any ‘C’ tasks?

 ‘C’ tasks are something that would be good to do, with no consequences if you don’t do it. ‘C’ tasks could be having coffee or sorting paper on your desk, the sort of activity that does not affect your work.

4. Start with your A-1 task

The key to succeeding with the ABC method is discipline and to always start with your ‘A-1’ task and stay at it until it’s completed.

How do you prioritise within your to-do-list?

I want to talk to an expert!

Charlotte Björsjö
Charlotte has been a project manager since 2014. She gets excited about Kanban and loves Trello.
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