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ABCDE Method for Effective Prioritization

From a wide array of prioritization techniques, ABCDE is one of the lesser-known methods for product managers.

Still, when priorities get messed up and you can’t get to the bottom of your tasks (or your team’s tasks), ABCDE can be a handy method to help you out.

What is the ABCDE Method?

The ABCDE Method helps you prioritize your tasks better. Created for better time management and decision-making, this method sorts tasks into 5 categories based on their importance and urgency (and no, this is not the same as the impact-urgency matrix):

  • A-tasks: high importance, high urgency
  • B-tasks: medium importance, medium urgency
  • C-tasks: low importance, high urgency
  • D-tasks: low importance, low urgency, delegate
  • E-tasks: eliminate

By sorting your tasks into these five categories, you can eliminate clutter, and help you prioritize tasks that you should work on first.

How Does the ABCDE Method Work?

The idea behind ABCDE is quite simple: by doing your most important tasks first, you set a positive momentum for the rest of the day, increasing your overall productivity.

The ABCDE method revolves around the idea that you should tackle tasks in order of importance. Below, we’ll explore each level of priority:


These are your very important tasks. They directly contribute to your long-term goals and have a big impact on your product’s success. Tackle them first to ensure maximum productivity and progress.

When you discover a critical bug that prevents you from releasing a major feature within a week is a good example of an A-task.


Your B tasks are less important as they may not be as time-sensitive or impactful as your A tasks. These tasks are important for your long-term success, but they can be tackled after you’ve completed your A tasks. Usually, these tasks end in your weekly sprint as a high-priority item.

Taking our previous example, completing a QA check on your feature should count as a B-task.


With these tasks, the pressure is off. They are tasks that can be delegated or postponed if necessary. Although they are not as crucial as A or B tasks, they still require attention to prevent them from piling up.

If your feature lacks a small but elegant UI element, you can postpone its execution until there are fewer As and Bs around.


D tasks are tasks that can be delegated to others. They might be important, but they can be done by your teammates, so that you can focus on tasks that need your attention expertise more.

Assume you have a few UI fixes (including the one from earlier) from different teams. You reach out to the PM who’s responsible for UI excellence and delegate your team’s task to them.


E tasks are tasks that have little to no impact on your goals or priorities. These tasks can often be eliminated altogether or postponed indefinitely. These either land on your product backlog, or you can discard them once and for all.

For instance, a feature that is strategically no longer relevant would qualify as an E-task.

ABCDE Method for Time Management & Prioritization

Now that you are getting the hang of the ABCDE method, let’s explore its role in effective time management and prioritization.

The Role of the ABCDE Method in Time Management

The ABCDE method helps you make the most of your limited time by ensuring that you are focusing on high-impact tasks.

By following this method, you can minimize time spent on low-value activities and maximize your overall productivity. This approach allows you to align your actions with your long-term goals and achieve tangible results.

ABCDE Method for Better Prioritization

When you are swarmed with dozens of different tasks and tight deadlines, it’s often tough to see through the noise. To separate the wheat from the chaff, the ABCDE method offers a simple, 2-step solution. Remember, to make it work for you, you need to know the following about each task:

  • Importance: Follow a simple, high-medium-low scale to determine importance.
  • Urgency: Similarly, apply the high-to-low scale on urgency as well.

The Top 4 Benefits of the ABCDE Method

Like any time management or prioritization technique, the ABCDE method comes with its own set of benefits and limitations.

1. Simplicity

One of the biggest advantages of the ABCDE method is its simplicity. The clear categorization of tasks simplifies the prioritization process and allows you to make informed decisions quickly.

2. Improved focus

The ABCDE method also encourages you to focus on high-impact tasks, leading to increased productivity and goal achievement.

3. Better time management

This is an obvious one. By focusing on what matters, you waste less time on tasks that don’t actually demand your attention.

4. Easy to communicate

Unlike some prioritization techniques that are a bit harder to explain (Weighted Shortest Job First would be one example), the ABCDE method makes your priorities easy to understand for stakeholders and outsiders.

How to Implement the ABCDE Method

Implementing the ABCDE method in your product manager routine is straightforward. Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Start by listing all the tasks in one place.
  2. Assign an urgency and an importance level to each task.
  3. Now assign a priority level to each task, using the ABCDE method.
  4. Delegate any tasks that fall into the D category and can be handled by a peer.
  5. Begin working on your A tasks.
  6. Once your A tasks are complete, move on to your B tasks.
  7. Review your C tasks and prioritize them accordingly. Eliminate or postpone any tasks in the E category.
  8. Repeat this process regularly to stay on top of your priorities.
The ABCDE method, set up in Fibery
The ABCDE method, set up in Fibery

Common Challenges and Solutions in Implementing the ABCDE Method

Implementing any new method can come with its own challenges, and the ABCDE method is no exception. Here are some common challenges you may encounter and how to overcome them:

  • Challenge: Feeling overwhelmed by a large number of A-tasks.
    Solution: Break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable subtasks.
  • Challenge: Procrastination
    Solution: Tackle your most challenging task first.
  • Challenge: Lack of clarity on task importance
    Solution: Regularly review and reassess task priorities to ensure they align with your current goals.

3 Alternatives to the ABCDE Method

While the ABCDE method is effective, there are plenty of alternatives out there that might be more useful depending on your case.

1. P-level Priorities

P0-P1-P2-P3-P4 priorities are eerily similar to the ABCDE method. 5 categories, check. Listed from most to least important, check. So what’s the difference? P-level priorities are a bit even more simplified than the ABCDE method. Basically, beyond P0 and P1, your tasks can be ignored or postponed entirely.

  • Pro: Focus even more on your top priority item(s).
  • Con: Ignore tasks that you can delegate, low priority items might be overlooked prematurely.

2. RICE Framework

The RICE Framework (Reach-Impact-Confidence-Effort) is a nuanced tool for product managers. It takes potential impact into contention alongside a more subjective factor that is confidence.

  • Pro: Creates a more holistic formula to prioritize your tasks.
  • Con: Can get highly subjective.

3. The Pareto Principle

Also known as the 80/20 rule. This concept promotes the idea of identifying the highest-performing features and functions of your product: this is the 20%. So, instead of equally spreading your dev efforts on everything, you rather shift your focus on the most profitable aspect of your product.

  • Pro: Economic feasibility and commercial success dictate your priorities.
  • Con: Changing competitive landscapes, shift in product strategy, etc. can undermine the Pareto rule’s efficiency.

In Conclusion

The right prioritization method ultimately depends on your personal preferences and work style. Experiment with different techniques, including the ABCDE method, to find the approach that works best for you in achieving your software development goals.

The ABCDE method provides a simple yet powerful framework for managing your time effectively in product management. By giving priority to tasks that truly matter, you can streamline your workflow, increase productivity, and ultimately achieve greater success in your projects.

In the meantime, why not try the ABCDE method in Fibery? We have a 14-day free trial awaiting for you.

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