The Ivy Lee Method: The Simplest Productivity Technique?
Recently I wrote an article summarizing David Allen's popular productivity framework Getting Things Done (GTD)
. The post has received a lot of reactions, thanks to this large management audience. But learning and getting habituated with a framework like GTD takes time and effort and there are many who want something simple and ready-to-use. In today's post I will cover the simplest form of productivity technique that anyone can start using right away. The technique is named after its inventor, productivity consultant Ivy Ledbetter Lee
. In 1918, Charles M. Schwab, the then president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation consulted Mr. Lee to improve his company's efficiency. In that meeting with Lee,
Mr. Schwab asked: "Show me a way to get more things done."
In response, Mr. Lee replied: "Give me 15 minutes with each of your executives."
Mr. Schwab asked: "How much will it cost me?"
Lee replied: "Nothing, unless it works. After three months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel it's worth to you."
It turned out that the 15-minutes with al executives were so valuable that Mr. Schwab sent Lee a check for $25,000 - the equivalent of more than $400,000 today!
Wondering what Lee did in those 15-minute? Then keep reading...
The Ivy Lee Method
Lee told each executive to do the following:
- At the end of each work day, write down the 5 or 6 most important things (not more than 6 though) that you have to accomplish tomorrow.
- Prioritize each of them in terms of their true importance.
- When you are at the office tomorrow, just concentrate on the first task. Work until the first task is done before moving on to the second task.
- Do the same for other items on the list. At the end of the day, if you still have any unfinished item, move them to a new list (again a list of not more than 6 tasks) for the following day.
- Repeat this process everyday.
No doubt his is the simplest productivity method that anyone can start using from day one. Just list these 5-6 to-do items and prioritize them to work on the next day. Start from the top of the list. Do one task at a time (don't multi-task) and you are on your way.
⇨ What do you think of the Ivy Lee method? Feel free to react.
James Clear, "The Ivy Lee Method: The Daily Routine Experts Recommend for Peak Productivity", Medium
Mark Abadi, "A CEO and Dad uses a 100-year-old Strategy to Get Control of his Schedule in just 15 Minutes Each Night", Business Insider