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Tackle Today: The Ivy Lee method

June 17, 2020

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A simple productivity hack


In 1918, Charles Schwab hired a consultant to come into his business to improve its efficiency.  The story essentially goes like this.  Schwab was a hustler.  He was obsessed with getting things done, being productive and moving his agenda forward.  Ivy Lee was a publicity expert, had some success working as a consultant for big corporations and caught the attention of Schwab. 

Schwab asked Lee to ‘Show me a way to get more things done.’

Lee simply told Schwab to give him ’15 minutes with each of your executives.’

And Schwab inquired how much it would cost for his services, Lee answered ‘Nothing. Unless it works.  After three months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel it’s worth to you.’

During those meetings with the top executives of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Lee trained them on what he wanted them to do.  It was a simple 5 step daily routine, that they were instructed to adhere to.

  • Step 1: At the end of the workday, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow.  Do not write down more than six tasks.
  • Step 2: Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  • Step 3: When you start your work, only work on the first task, do not stop working on it until it is finished, then move onto the second task.
  • Step 4: At the end of the day, move any unfished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  • Step 5: Repeat this process every working day.

After some time, Schwab saw how effective the productivity process was for his executives, he sent Lee a check for $25,000.  With inflation, that would be worth nearly $500,000 today. 

For any entrepreneur, business owner and financial markets investor and trader, productivity is crucial.  If you are looking for a simple process to keep you focused, try the Ivy Lee method.  Staying task focused and organized will help you achieve more on a day to day basis.

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2 Replies to “Tackle Today: The Ivy Lee method”

  1. Avatar MichaelProkop says:

    Needed this! Thanks Tim.

    1. Happy to hear that it helped!

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