Why you should use ABCDE to-do lists to become more productive and have more free time

Why you should use the ABCDE to-do list method to become more productive and have more free time

In today’s day and age productivity and efficiency are more important than ever before.

The person that is not productive or efficient wastes a lot of the only currency that you will never get back: Time.

Next to that they make their own life a whole lot harder than it needs to be.


Today you will learn a better way to organize your day so that you can get more done and create more free time for yourself.

What are to-do lists?

Everybody knows the phenomena of to-do lists.

A list where you write everything that you need to do so that you don’t forget anything.


Or well, that’s how most people use to-do lists.

The most successful people that walk this earth know that to-do lists are their ticket to freedom.

They help you to prioritize tasks, get rid of the unnecessary clutter, and take the guess work out of projects/work/life.

In this article you will learn how to use a more effective method of using to-do lists; the ABCDE to-do list method.

In this Article you will learn what this method is and how you can apply them to your own life to increase your efficiency and productivity in everything that you do.

Why you should use a to-do list.

There are many reasons to use to-do lists, here are the most common reasons. You will;

  • See your priorities clearly
  • Create a nice list to follow so that you know exactly what to do next.
  • Are able to focus better, delivering better work in a shorter amount of time.
  • Have a more relaxed state of mind, because you cannot forget anything.
  • Because you are more efficient you will have more free time so that you can do what you really want to do.

In short: It clears your mind, makes you more productive and gives you more free time.

Isn’t that something that we all want?

Pure focus

One thing that I would like to highlight more than any of the other benefits is that you teach yourself to focus on one thing at a time.

Multitasking as we all know is a myth and an ineffective way of doing something, while you will produce average results (at best). Yet we all multitask almost every second of our day.

We as a people have lost our ability to focus. And that is one of the few skills that is a requirement to become successful.

You cannot become successful without the ability to focus.

When you use to-do lists as described in this article you will train your “focus-muscle”, which in turn will help you for the rest of your life!

That alone should be reasons enough to use to-do lists.

A better way: the ABCDE to-do list method

 Now that you realize that you should use to-do lists if you want to become more effective, productive and successful, we will introduce you to a better way of creating to-do lists.

The ABCDE to-do lists categorizes your tasks on its priority and will help you to get rid of tasks that are not worth your time.

Here is what ABCDE stands for:

  • (A): Must do
  • (B): Should do
  • (C): Nice to do
  • (D): Delegate
  • (E): Eliminate

Let’s find out why this is a better way of creating to-do lists.

Why should you use ABCDE to-do lists?

There are several reasons that make the ABCDE to-do list method better, and easier than normal to do lists, here are a few of the most important reasons:

Getting the most important tasks done first

With the ABCDE to-do list method you will prioritize your activities, so that you do the activities that you “Must do” first, followed by the “Should do” activities.

When this is out of the way you can choose to do the “Nice to do” activities, or leave them for another day.

This gives you a confident state of mind, because you know that you’ve done everything already that you need to do, and anything after that is a bonus.

80/20 Rule

When you use this method, you will follow the 80/20 rule. Which states that 80% of our results come from 20% of our actions.

Because our 20% of our actions that produce the most results will most likely be in category A and B.
And the categories A and B are the lists that we will do as the first thing in the day. This will ensure that we will get maximum results for the least amount of time. 

More free time

Because you get the most important tasks done first, you will have more free time than ever before.

And the choice to continue working or to leave the nice to do tasks for another day.

And now you think:

Hey! Wait a minute, all these benefits are almost the same!

And you are completely right!

They are all an extension of the same reasons why everyone should use to-do lists.


Did you expect some complicated reason and benefits?

In that case you came to the wrong place, because in the end; Life is simple, we are the ones that make it hard and complicated for no legitimate reason.

Being productive, efficient, happy, successful or anything else for that matter is simple!

Remember the KISS-rule: Keep It Simply Stupid.

If something is not easy and simple, it will not work.

and we are all about making life as productive, effective and as easy as possible for you.


How to use the ABCDE to-do list method

Let’s go more in depth of what the points are, and how you can use them effectively.

(A): Must do

Here you list the tasks that you MUST DO today,

If you don’t do these things, something bad will happen.

Something like: You lose house, you get fired or you die.

Category A is the first list that you do.

(B): Should do

In this category you will list the tasks that you should do today.

If you don’t, something bad will happen, but not as bad as we had in category A.

Examples: You won’t get that promotion, your phone will be cut off because you didn’t pay the bills.

Category B are the tasks that you will do after you finished category A.

(C): Nice to do

In category C we will list all the tasks that are nice to do, but that doesn’t HAVE to be done today.

Nothing bad will happen if you don’t do them, however you could get some extra benefit for doing them.


For example: Doing something already that could become a category A or B in the future.

Or trying out this new thing that you wanted to do for a while.

Category C are tasks are not a priority, and you will only do them if you have the time, or want to do them.

(D): Delegate

Category D tasks are insignificant tasks that still have to be done, however that doesn’t mean that they have to be done by you.

These are the tasks that you can delegate to other people, or outsource to other people.

Examples: Cleaning your house, doing the dishes, answering the phone, managing your inbox and sending you only the important stuff, accounting and bookkeeping, mowing the lawn.

There is an easy rule for this:
If the price of outsourcing is lower than the cost of your time you should delegate or outsource it!


The easy way to decide the cost of your time is this: take your monthly income, and divide it by the hours that you’ve worked that month.

Let’s say that your monthly income is $3000 and you’ve worked 300 hours that month, it means that your time is worth $10 an hour.

If outsourcing is less than what you’ve made per hour, you should do it.

This is easier to calculate if you work for a monthly wage than if you are self-employed or an entrepreneur with different sources of income.

(E): Eliminate

In the E category you list all the tasks that were on your original to-do list, but that doesn’t benefit you on any way.

If something does not benefit you, you should eliminate it!

For example: Buying a new cellphone while your current one still works or throwing out the garbage 10 times a day instead of once.

Points to take into consideration

There are a few points that you should think about when you write your ABCDE to-do list, here are a few;

Building the habit

In order for this method to become effective you need to turn it into a habit, and be both persistent and consistent with it.

Being Consistent

The best way to learn a new habit is to be consistent with it.
Set a time apart every night to create your ABCDE to-do list for the next day, or if not, do it the next morning.

This has the extra benefit of not having to waste your brain power in the morning, and having the extra overview that you normally have at night.

Being Persistent

For a habit to become a habit you need to do it on a concious and constant basis.

Therefore; be persistent. Create the lists every single day. Not just once or twice a month.

Best practices

A few of the best practiced when you write a ABCDE to-do list;

  • Create the lists the night before; this makes sure that you don’t forget anything and that you know exactly what to do in the morning without having to think about it.
  • First write all the tasks down that you think you need to do.
  • Put all tasks in the different categories (ABCD & E)
  • Read over your list and make sure that you did not forget anything.
  • Go over category A and B, and ask yourself for every item “Must/Should I really do this task today?”
  • Organize the items in each list in order of importance. (if they are equally important, put the biggest or hardest tasks first.)
  • Work on only one item at a time, cut out all distractions and thoughts that don’t belong to this task!
  • After you completed something check the item off of your list, then continue with the next item.

If you make a mistake, pick up where you left off.

Now just like with any habit, it’s possible that you just forget to make a list one time.

Guess what; it’s no big deal! Mistakes happen.

Just pick up where you left off when you can and continue. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste because you made one mistake.

The only difference between unsuccessful people and successful people is that successful people pick themselves up from the floor and continue working on themselves.


You now know that if you make to-do lists you will be much more organized, productive and effective. And we’ve also given you the tools to make your to-do lists even more efficient by giving you the ABCDE to-do list method.

Feel free to reply below if you have any comments, questions or just want to share with us your experience on this topic.

You can also contact us by clicking here.


Thank you for reading and enjoy your day!

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Why you should use ABCDE to-do lists to become more productive and have more free time

Bas van der Linden

CEO of Get Lean Strength

Bas actively trains and inspires people all over the world to create a better life for themselves through strengthening the Body, Mind and Spirit. He is also an entertainer at heart and travels the world to make people forget about their problems and share a few laughs.

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