In 1918, Charles M. Schwab was already one of the wealthiest men in the world. Schwab was the president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, the largest shipbuilder and the second-largest steel producer in America at the time.
One day in 1918, Schwab arranged a meeting with a productivity consultant named Ivy Lee in hopes to increase his company’s productivity (Schwab was known for always seeking an edge over his competition).
According to the tale, Ivy Lee spent 15 minutes with each of the firm’s executives and told Schwab that if he saw results, to pay him in three months “for whatever you feel it’s worth to you.”
3 months after Ivy Lee later, Schwab called Lee back into his office and handed him a check for $25,000.
Admittedly, many of us struggle with productivity and time management. While our intentions to maximize our potential are always great, we somehow manage to fall short of our own expectations. Never quite getting through that To-Do list, ultimately, we end up feeling unproductive and defeated. The Ivy Lee Method by is a simple and straightforward concept that is designed to enhance your productivity and assist you in becoming a master of your own time.
The Ivy Lee Method
- At the end of your workday, before you leave, prioritize the six most pressing tasks and duties you need to do tomorrow.
- Decompress. Leave the office and go home. Take your favorite fitness class. Read a book. Play with your kids. Spend quality time with friends and loved ones. Disconnect from the hustle and bustle of work and have fun.
- Start working through your list by addressing the first thing on it. Despite interruptions, stay focused and complete the task before moving on to another important item on your list.
- Repeat. Reformulate your focus at the end of your day by revisiting your list. Evaluate what you accomplished and remove completed tasks from your list. Anything still relevant and pressing bumps up to the top of your list for the next day.
Some other great highlights I would like to touch upon about this daily review and reflection process are:
- A small list of six items is manageable and sets us up for success. There aren’t too many tasks to tackle and there isn’t too little to be done—six is the magic number.
- Planning at the end of one’s day lends itself to remarkable perspective since you possess a more realistic understanding of your day, factoring in any interruptions and matters that may need tending.
- Make time for that last appointment with yourself. Put a tangible stop time to work, review your list, create your new one for the following day and go home. Step back from your work and then come back to it. Your work life must be sustainable so that means not getting caught up addressing “one last thing”.
The Ivy Lee Method is about simplicity and efficacy. It is easy to adapt into your current schedule and implement. Its design keeps you focused, catapulting your work to new heights, while you see gains in productivity. Remain mindful to not over schedule yourself, continue to be flexible, and protect daily time with self and watch your work output soar.