Boost Productivity Using The Ivy Lee Method

Ivy Lee, a businessman and public relations pioneer, consulted for some of the world’s largest industrial firms. Most notably known for consulting the Rockefeller family, Lee would transform companies, increasing their efficiency and performance. The Ivy Lee Method began in 1918, when the owner of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Charles Schwab, sought out Lee to boost productivity in the organisation.

“How can I get more things done efficiently?” Schwab said.

Lee responded, “Give me fifteen minutes with your top executives”.

“What’s the cost?” Schwab asked.

“Nothing at all,” Lee said.

“If it works, send me a cheque for whatever you feel the improvement was worth. If you didn’t improve, send me nothing”.

Three months later, Schwab noticed a significant improvement in productivity by using a simple method Ivy Lee told the executives. “At the end of the night, write down your most important tasks to do the following day, listing in order of importance. When the next day arrives, work on those tasks in order of value.” Schwab gave Lee a cheque for $25,000 (Worth $425,000 today).


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On Our Priorities


When Lee spoke with the top executives at Bethlehem Steel, it took him fifteen minutes to explain a system that recognises top priorities and what to work on first. The system went like this:

1. After your workday, write down the six most important tasks you’re required to do the following day.
2. Number the list of true importance.
3. When you arrive at work the next day, work only on the first task. Only once it’s finished, move on to the second task.
4. Approach the rest of the list this same way, and repeat the process each day.

A simple strategy, which is what makes it so effective. We often believe the most straightforward methods are too good to be true. We look for new and improved ways to achieve results when it’s understands a basic system that can provide us with direction and consistency to practice deliberately and perform. We can boost productivity in our career and personal life from this four step strategy, enhancing improvement in the following areas:


Decision Making


From the moment you wake up, you’re making a decision. Whether it’s to lay in bed, sleep in some more, or get up and have a shower, your brain is now active. The Ivy Lee Method helps you understand how you will attack the next day. By understanding what’s required the evening before, you have already translated to your brain a mental edge of how you will perform when you wake up the following day. Being consistent in writing down your six priorities helps reduce decision fatigue because you’re not constantly thinking about what to do next. The outcome results in a productivity boost an increase in mental energy.


Focusing On One Thing


A lot of us see multitasking as a way to improve productivity. We can find ourselves getting more things done, but we may not be getting the right things done. Multitasking is productivity masking, meaning we use other tasks to view ourselves as busy and hardworking, but in reality, we’re not reaching our potential in any given area. The Ivy Lee method promotes single-tasking, whereby focusing on one thing creates a direction for optimal performance in that task. The more we practice single-tasking, the more influential the results.


A Starting Point


Starting a task can be extremely difficult when you don’t know where to begin. Not knowing where to begin offers a reason to procrastinate and sinks you lower into tricking yourself into not starting. The checklist provides a new direction and an improved way of where to focus your energy. By starting on one task, it makes it easier to not only complete it but complete the others effectively.

The Ivy Lee Method has become a valuable strategy that has helped me as a writer. I would use writing software Scrivener to note all my ideas and work. Each morning when I open up my laptop, I have a a starting point on what to write. It reduces the time and energy by not having to figure it out on the day. This translates into a productivity boost and a clearer mind on what I’d like to achieve each day.


Boost Productivity: The Challenges Moving Forward


The message and method is simple: Do the most important things each day. Of course we know there will be distractions, emergencies and uncontrollable factors that come our way. But the act of doing what’s essential when there are no distractions make it easier to bounce back from the

If you would like to be more efficient, make life easier for yourself. If you’re a writer, download software that helps you become organised and effective. If you work in an office and succumb to constant email checking, remove the notifications. By making it easier on yourself, your list of six important items becomes exceedingly doable with effective results.

The rule is simple: simple organisation, effective results.