How would you like to increase your productivity with one simple step?
Let me tell you a story.
By 1918, Charles M. Schwab was one of the richest men in the world. He was the president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, the largest shipbuilder and the second-largest steel producer in America at the time.
Schwab was known as a “master hustler”, constantly seeking an edge over the competition.
In his quest to increase the efficiency of his team and discover better ways to get things done, Schwab arranged a meeting with a highly respected productivity consultant named Ivy Lee, a successful businessman in his own right.
Schwab brought Lee into his office and said, “Show me a way to get more things done.” “Give me 15 minutes with each of your executives,” Lee replied. “How much will it cost me,” Schwab asked. “Nothing,” Lee said. “Unless it works. After three months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel it’s worth to you.”
With nothing to lose, Schwab agreed.
The Ivy Lee Method
During his 15-minutes with each executive, Ivy Lee explained his simple daily routine for achieving peak productivity:
At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow – do not write down more than six tasks.
Prioritise those six items in order of their true importance.
When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished, then move on to the second task, and so on.
At the end of the day, make your list of six for tomorrow, if necessary, moving any unfinished items across.
Repeat each day.
The strategy sounded simple, but Schwab and his executive team gave it a try.
After three months, Schwab was so delighted with the progress his company had made that he called Lee into his office and wrote him a check for $25,000 which is the equivalent of more than $400,000 these days.
What makes this method so effective?
- It’s super simple. Emergencies, fires and unexpected distractions will always come up. Ignore them as much as possible, deal with them when necessary and then get back to it.
- It forces you to make tough decisions – too many priorities = no priorities –if you commit to nothing you will be distracted by everything.
- It removes the friction of starting by forcing you to decide on your tasks and priorities the night before – sometimes the biggest hurdle to finishing a task is starting it.
- It eliminates multitasking and instead forces mono-tasking (focusing on 1 task at a time).
- It gives clear focus. Think of how many times you’ve finished a task then instantly gone and checked your email or phone. Having your Ivy Lee list means you don’t have to aimlessly float through your inbox to work out your priorities, you just finish one thing and know exactly what to move onto next.
It sounds almost too simple, but that’s what makes it so effective.
So, what have you got to lose?
Give it a try, right now.
Write down your six most important tasks, prioritise them in their true order, then start with number one!
Want to learn more prioritisation and time management methods?
Our next Effective Time Management session is on Tuesday 21st March. For only $300, you’ll walk away with everything you need to manage yourself, and your time.
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