Topic 2 ABC analysis and the “starting with the most difficult or the easiest” method

There are several other options available to help you be more efficient in scheduling your activities.

ABC Analysis is one them, used for classifying the tasks into groups depending on their urgency and importance. The groups are marked with letters A, B and C. Consequently, the tasks are marked based on the criteria stated below with the letters and performed in a set order.

  • A – Tasks perceived as urgent and important.
  • B – Tasks that are not urgent but they are important.
  • C – Tasks that are neither urgent nor important.

Even here you have to follow the rule that if there is an A-task not fulfilled, you should not start performing a B-task, and if there are some B-tasks left not fulfilled, do not move to any C-task.

This will ensure you follow your priorities and move from the highest priority to the lowest one. However, in practice you might sometimes have to break this sequence, for example when you have been waiting for information necessary to perform an A-task.

The “Starting with the most difficult or the easiest” Method recommends solving the most challenging tasks at first. The most challenging tasks will be performed as soon as possible (at the beginning of the week, after we have come to work); indeed the authors of this method believe that if there is nothing more complicated left for the rest of the week/day, we will be more motivated to perform the activities. Another option is to start from the easiest task, following J. A. Komenský’s principle “proceeding from the easier to the more complicated”. The order to fulfil our tasks can be set depending on our attitudes and preferences.

Pareto principle

While setting priorities and scheduling, we should also consider so-called Pareto principle.

Using 80/20 figures, the Pareto principle states the fact of time management inequality and efficiency. It shows that 80% of effects is achieved through 20% of effort.

Therefore, should we not put our effort in a large number of useless activities but rather put it in few important actions, we would achieve much better results.

From time-management perspective, Pareto principle concerns identifying key tasks and activities with the highest effect and only then priorities can be fixed, if necessary.

In other words, the Pareto principle imposes that activities bringing no profit and not helping to achieve our goals shall be minimised.


  • 20% of phone calls will solve 80% of my work-related issues
  • 20% of my friends make up for 80% of my support network
  • 20% of time, i.e. during a meeting, will have an impact on 80% of final resolution
  • 20% of sponsors will donate 80% of gifts

Check-up questions – priorities setting

  • What is the optimal time frame for scheduling?
  • Time frame for scheduling individual tasks (priorities setting) is influenced by two criteria, i.e. ………………… and …………………… .
  • What methods can be used for prioritizing your tasks?

Activity: Your tasks and their priorities

In the previous chapters you noted down your goals and a list of tasks and activities to be performed to achieve the goals.

Try sorting the items from your list into the quadrants to get the order in which these should be fulfilled.