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The Ivy Lee Method: A 100-Year-Old Productivity Tool

Published by Ivy Team on
The Ivy Lee Method: A 100-Year-Old Productivity Tool

This 100-year-old method is used by world-class experts like athletes, scientists, and CEOs.

In 1918, Charles Schwab turned to productivity expert Ivy Lee to find ways to increase the productivity of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. Lee met with Schwab’s executives for 15 minutes.

Supposedly, Lee didn’t charge Schwab anything for his time. He told Schwab “Unless it works. After three months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel it's worth to you.”

So what is it exactly?

When Lee met with each executive, he explained his simple routine for productivity:

  • At the end of the day, write down the six most important things you need to get done the following day. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  • Prioritize those six things.
  • The next day, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is complete before moving on to the second one.
  • Repeat this process every day.

Simple enough, right?

Schwab and his team gave it a try. After three months, Schwab called Lee into his office and wrote him a check for $25,000.

Here’s why it works so well:

  • It’s six things. So you’re never really biting off more than you can chew. No more endless to-do lists to work through every day.
  • It encourages optimism. With only six things every day, you can look forward to getting all (or most) of the things on your list done.
  • It encourages you to get things done sooner. Because you’ll be thinking about how great it will feel to get all six tasks complete by the end of the day.
  • It’s simple! The simpler the method is, the more likely you’ll be to stick with it.

And that’s why Ivy stems from the Ivy Lee method (yes, our namesake). Ivy is committed to bringing the best productivity software to the world with products that empower everyone to live happier, healthier, and more productive lives.

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