ABCD system

by Admin
Updated: July 26, 2018

The ABCD system is a personal achievement and productivity tool that uses four simple lists

This is a system of 4 lists that I use to keep myself organized. It evolved from a loose leaf paper system years ago when I gathered all my various to-do lists and put them in a ring binder. When I had a spare few minutes I would update & organize them. They fell naturally into the four types, A-D, described below.

This tool uses four categories - A, B, C and D - designated as such because the ring binder I originally kept them in had A-Z dividers. It wasn’t until much later that I contrived names for each category to begin with the appropriate letter.

A - “Aspirations”

The system begins with a list of all my long term goals - everything in terms of personal achievement that I ultimately aspire to.

I recommend writing down goals in the order they spring to mind and seeing if anything can be learned from this natural sequence before reorganizing them logically (e.g. by type or priority).

This list needs to be reviewed with a frequency proportional to how much it is modified, i.e. it should eventually settle down into a unified set of objectives that doesn’t change much.

I recommend keeping completed goals in the list. I used to remove them and focus only on what I still hadn’t accomplished but there’s a lot of strength & motivation that can be gained from seeing how much has been achieved.

I recommend defining goals as Utopian ideals

List A can also be constructed using vision boards

B - “Breakdown”

Each current objective is mapped to a strategy and each strategy is broken down into simple steps. Ideally, each step is simple enough that it can be completed in one day.

I review List B every few days to check on progress, make sure the overall strategy is still good and move single-day tasks to List C...

C - “Calendar”

This is a list of things happening today and in the future. In addition to appointments, events etc., it includes as much as possible from List B that can be scheduled day-by-day.

Even though I use various calendar apps, this is still useful as my most simple collection of daily to-do lists and what I do today is what drives the whole system.

D - “Daily”

This is a list of things that need to be done every day that would otherwise clutter up List C making it less useful. List D contains checklists relating to business & financial monitoring, health & fitness, the development of abilities that require daily practice, accomplishments for any ongoing creative projects etc.

E - “Extra”

This isn’t really part of the system - it’s the unorganized notes that haven’t yet been consolidated into main system. It contains things like additional ideas for goals, possible techniques or methods etc.

It always exists because I always have new ideas and I don’t put myself under any pressure to ever tidy it all away. ABCD + E!

More info

“The Best Productivity System” is the one you create yourself at

“Instead of Finding the Perfect Productivity System, Build a System You Can Stick To” at

Internal links

Project planning Reverse Parkinson Law Kickstart personal productivity This is easy and fun All articles
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