Have you ever heard of the Ivy Lee Method? The other day, on my Instagram stories, I said how every time I try to utilize Google calendar like the successful people I see online, I inevitably have my least productive day. I feel like I am chained to my calendar and if I am even a minute late, massive anxiety sets in. I hate being late. Mind you, I work for myself. I create my own schedule. I am the one putting these “appointments” into my calendar. But there is just something in my brain that says, “your calendar says your supposed to be doing this right now, so why are you still doing this?”
It is a vicious cycle that, I just realized when I was discussing it yesterday, is actually causing me to get less done in a day. Sometimes it takes me talking it out with myself, or instagram, to come to the realization that something doesn’t work for me.
So where did I even come up with this idea that I needed to use Google calendar? From the same person who taught me about the method that actually does work for me, The Skinny Confidential.
The method is called The Ivy Lee Method, this is how it works:
Excerpt below is from this source.
By 1918, Charles M. Schwab was one of the richest 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. The famous inventor Thomas Edison once referred to Schwab as the “master hustler.” He was constantly seeking an edge over the competition.
One day in 1918, 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.
Lee was a successful businessman in his own right and is widely remembered as a pioneer in the field of public relations. As the story goes, 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.”
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.
- Prioritize 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 before moving on to the second task.
- Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
- Repeat this process every working day.
The strategy sounded simple, but Schwab and his executive team at Bethlehem Steel 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.
A $25,000 check written in 1918 is the equivalent of a $400,000 check in 2015.
The Ivy Lee Method of prioritizing your to-do list seems stupidly simple. How could something this simple be worth so much?
So, What makes it so effective?
Honestly, I think that answer to this question varies for each person. For me, it takes the guess work out of my day.
When using the Ivy Lee Method you know, going into your day, exactly what needs to get done. So when something comes up, which inevitably happens, you know how to get back on task. At the end of the day, you have a tool to measure how much you accomplished that day and where to start for the next day.
It forces you to start.
I can’t tell you how many times I have opened my laptop and just stared, not knowing what to even start writing. Sometimes taking the first step is the hardest part. Having those 6 tasks in front of your face helps to just get started.
Sometimes starting can be hard because you feel like you’re in a slump. I wrote a post discussing ways to get out of a slump which have helped me in the past!
You prioritize what is important.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day and that’s it. You can’t get 25 or 26 on the days that you really need that extra hour or two. This method helps you prioritize what is important and what you could delegate to someone else, or outsource.
It forces you to stop multi-tasking.
Let’s get real here for a second: I hate when people multi-task! It is my biggest pet peeve. Do one thing at a time and then move onto the next. I attribute so much of my brain power to only focusing on one task at a time. I don’t know if that’s real or in my head but it’s my story! The Ivy Lee method helps you focus on what is important and sets you up for success.
Have you used the Ivy Lee method? Or even heard of it? What are your productivity hacks? Let me know in the comments below!
Michelle Hendrickson says
This is genius! I’m going to try this starting tomorrow.
Dani O'Brien says
I am so much more productive when I do this!