This Century-Old To-Do List Still Works

This Century-Old To-Do List Still Works


When Bethlehem Steel Corp. baron Charles M. Schwab wanted to “get more things done” at his company in 1918, he turned to a man who promised a simple solution in a five-step productivity hack, FastCompany reports. “Give me 15 minutes with each of your executives,” Ivy Lee, a public relations pioneer, told Schwab. If it didn’t work, he added, Schwab didn’t have to pay him. If it did, Schwab could give him whatever he liked. After three months, a satisfied Schwab wrote Lee a $25,000 check (worth $430,000 today), writesJames Clear. Lee’s trick still works today, writes Clear, thanks to its simplicity, which forces tough decisions and prioritizing.

Here’s the Ivy Lee method:

  1. At the end of each day, write down the six—and only six—most important things to do tomorrow.
  2. Prioritize those six items.
  3. When you arrive at work, concentrate only on the first task until it’s finished, then move on to the second task.
  4. Work through the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the day’s end, put anything undone on tomorrow’s list.
  5. Repeat every working day.



4 replies on “This Century-Old To-Do List Still Works”

Wake up at noon.

Yell for a coffee.

Browse Chaostrophic.

Smoke a cigar while playing video games.

3pm rolls round. Set off to work.

Arrive at work. Get a coke from the fridge.

Browse and comment on Chaostrophic.

4:47pm already? Time to pack up.

that’s a hectic schedule may want to see if you can telecommute a couple days before you burnout

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