I Tried The Ivy Lee Productivity Method And Here Is How I Found It

You may have noticed I’ve been covering off a few more life hacks and tips for productivity lately on What Emma Did. I guess it’s because I’ve been struggling a little with ‘getting my own sh*t together’ recently… and I’ve no idea why.

Maybe it’s working from home and not having that seperation from work/home life. Maybe it’s simply the burn out I have of always working. Maybe its worrying about little things with being self-employed and never knowing what each week will be like…

Whatever it is, I decided to try what is known as The Ivy Lee method – a productivity method praised by many. Since following it, I feel like it’s really helped me grow my business, get more focused, and it’s also helped me turn my house into a home, be more grateful and happy, and even helped aspects of my personal life.

The ‘correct’ way to do this method is to do it at night, but you can do it in the morning also. I switch it up, and it really depends on the type of person you are.

If you are a super early riser, then it might help to do this at night and then start smashing through everything in the morning. For me, I like to do it in the morning, kinda as a way to clear my head and sort my crap out before kick-starting the day.

What is the Ivy Lee Method?

Ok so, here’s the story, bear with me, I’m sharing a bit of history here first…

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 PR. 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.”

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 by 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.
  • 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 nowadays. WOW!

The benefit of The Ivy Lee Method is kind of like time-blocking. You focus on one task and it allows you to focus on your priorities so you don’t get caught up in the riff raff.

How have I found the Ivy Lee Method?

I write down my 6 tasks in my notebook in the morning before starting my day. I do it after having a quick morning shower, while eating my cereal and drinking my green tea (I’m so routine like that – nothing changes my morning routine!).

After trailing it for a couple of weeks, here are the major benefits of The Ivy Lee Method:

♡ It’s simple, so it actually works. All you need is paper & a pen.

♡ It makes you prioritize. 6 is the magic number here. Don’t overwhelm yourself with 20 tasks- only write down 6.

♡ It takes the guesswork out of ‘starting.’ How much time do you waste ‘thinking’ about what you should do first? Distracting yourself? When you have a prioritised list, it’s just there in front of you.

♡ It makes you SINGLE-TASK. Focusing energy on one thing at a time is also hugely important and helps you clear your head a little.

♡ It can encourage a healthier work-life balance. As an entrepreneur this can be really tricky so anything that helps is welcome to be honest.

To sum it up, this productivity hack helps with concentration, productivity, keeps you organized, and allows your brain to marinate on what you’ve done.

Plus, if you use a super cute notebook and your favourite pen, you’ll look forward to scribbling down the list!

Please let me know if you got value out of this post because this Charles Schwab thing has been life changing for me! Would love to hear if you guys try this too…

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