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