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Using the ABCDE method to set your priorities: June 21, 2010

Posted by truenorthtrainingsolutions in Uncategorized.
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This method may seem familiar to you when were done, so lets not strain the brain too much and just say that I believe that this method is merely a “take off” on what is more commonly referred to the “Ben Franklin Method,” since it is widely believed that he was the first one to use these particular methods.

First off, as in ANY goal setting conversation you will want to spend some quality time scheduling related  set of tasks. Spend some time each day, making them closer to the fact. Of course the closer they are related the more you will eventually begin to merge them into one or a series of related tasks. Finally you will arrive at the obvious thing that you, once you have skimmed those ‘off the top’ you will, want to start working on the balance of the items on your list!

So here’s how we use the ABCDE program. You have made a list of everything that fills in your day, as well as the priorities that go along with them. Now what you need to do is focus on them by yourself, in a room alone and begin by dividing them into certain segments. These segments will be labeled A, B, C, D and E. Here’s how the labels should be assigned.

A – MUST DO – These are the items in your life and in your business that carry BIG and I mean HUGE consequences if they don’t get done, or if they don’t get done properly. For example in many businesses invoicing is left up to a 3rd party accountant. Sounds smart, let them track the receipts. BUT if the account that you do the most work for is 3 months behind in their payments and coming current is the difference between meeting payroll and NOT, maybe you ought to take a bit more interest than you usually do in bringing THAT account up to date.

B – SHOULD DO – These items carry a much milder consequence if not completed today, but are still important enough that if they are NOT dealt with properly they could work their way UP to being in the A category. For example, you JUST shipped out an enormous amount of product to a vendor that you have NEVER done business with, and they ask for a 2/10 net 30 cycles. You have to start SOMEWHERE with folks, but maybe if they are asking it should be seen as a red alarm?

C – LIKE TO DO – These items carry NO consequences for not getting done, but you enjoy doing them. For example, when you established your business you stated in your Value Statement that you would ‘donate’ 10% of your profits to charity. This year maybe instead of donating cash you have found a charity that can benefit most from your TIME. So you have a choice, do you spend 10 hours a week gathering new business and making contacts, or do you spend those SAME 10 hours a week working at a homeless shelter? A very good friend of mine always said that the nicest part about being wealthy was that he could send his money to work for others less fortunate then himself, when he personally didn’t have the TIME to be there in person. If next month’s calendar has NO new business on it, and you are more than 1 week into THIS month’s, maybe that homeless shelter would make as good of use of $250 in cash rather than you sweeping up at the end of the night.

Do NOT perform ANY C tasks if there is ANY A or B tasks UN done.

D – Delegate to Others – These are items that SHOULD be done, but they are NOT the best use of YOUR resources. This is where you start giving other folks the “opportunity” to learn and grow. I’m not saying you need to hire some 16 year old kid to put gas in your car every Friday, but if your choice is to spend an entire day ‘working’ on your website, or hire someone who can get it done in 2 hours who is the best person for THAT job? I strongly believe that this is where the concept of “Accountants” came from. Here is an entire industry that only benefits if you make $. Yet you can either be spending time generating money, OR you can find out where the specialists are, go there, and find one who is willing to “help” you on a semi regular basis? Now you have accomplished two tasks in one: You have delegated that accounting task to someone else who will be paid a relatively small fee, but most importantly you have freed up the dozen or so hours you WERE spending, performing the tasks themselves!

E – ELIMINATE – These are tasks that make absolutely NO difference in your day, they don’t contribute to your goals and carry NO consequences. A PERFECT example here occurs on Sunday all over the USA, it’s called “Monday Morning Quarterback.” Instead of spending the morning huddled around the water cooler, setup an instant messenger service on your PC and have the SAME conversation while you are hunting new business or (worse yet) chasing after old business. I will say this about that however, if you got paid 100% up front, then you wouldn’t care WHERE your customer is on Monday. These are tasks that no one else wants because THEY too realize that they are trivial and just eat up time. Often this is what leads you to external delegations, however, you REALLY need to look at these tasks and find out if they can be eliminated. A perfect example, when our first child was born, my wife, who worked from home,  determined that she was spending so much time cleaning the house that she didn’t feel that she was generating enough income. So we ‘delegated’ this task by hiring a maid service. Unfortunately my loving wife, not wanting to be embarrassed would then spend ½ the day BEFORE the maid arrived, “picking up.”

It was at this time that I determined that the maids were being paid almost as well as she was, therefore we were losing at LEAST ½ a days work/pay every Friday. When you added what she missed the previous day you were NOW in the position to realize that having a maid was costing 20% of her income. The solution? Hire 2 maids and 1 to clean the bathrooms? No too much overhead to be practical. Get rid of house cleaning for good? Absolutely not, instead what we found was that by making a list of what the maid was doing, one of us performed one set of tasks and the other performed the rest. Thus we eliminated the payment, we eliminated the ‘pre maid’ stress and my wife gets help with the housework! So by eliminating 1 item we actually WON on 3 separate fronts! That’s what’s known as a Win3!

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