One of the most successful productivity methods, called the Ivy Lee Method, has been in practice for over one hundred years. It has proven to be effective time and time again, and can help you increase productivity in your work and daily life.


In the early 1900s, Charles M. Schwab (president of a steel corporation and one of the richest men of the time) invited a productivity consultant by the name of Ivy Lee to help him increase the efficiency of his team. Ivy Lee spent just fifteen minutes with each of Schwab’s executives and within three months, there was a drastic improvement. Ivy Lee did not take any money up front for his services but he did say that if his methods worked, then Schwab can write him a cheque for whatever the method was worth to him. Schwab went on to write a cheque for $25,000 (equivalent to $400,000 today).

The Method

  1. At the end of each workday, write down six important tasks you need to accomplish on the following day.
  2. Prioritize the six tasks in order of importance.
  3. When you begin work the following day, focus only on your first task and do not switch your attention to anything else until it is completed. Carry on to number two only when one is done.
  4. Move any unfinished tasks to a new list for the next day.
  5. Repeat the process every working day.

Keep Things Simple

One of the reasons that the Ivy Lee Method works so well is that it is simple! Some argue that methods such as this are too basic and that they do not take into account the complexities of life. Of course life is complex, but that does not mean you need a complicated strategy! By keeping things simple you can focus on what is important and get back to work without overthinking it.

Limit Yourself

You may be the type of person that has a million and one things to do each day and the idea of getting started each day can be overwhelming. The great thing about sticking to only six pieces of work each day is that it allows you to truly consider what you want to accomplish and get rid of the unnecessary time-wasting tasks.

Think Ahead

Sometimes, the biggest problem with starting your workday is getting going. By identifying your tasks the day before, you have a running start. Instead of wasting an hour or two figuring out what you would like to do during the day, you already have a schedule with the added benefit of being able to ‘sleep on it’. You may have already solved some problems or come up with an action plan without even realizing it!


Sometimes it is important to single-task. Multi-tasking can be important but if often produces sub-par results and can make you feel frantic and busy. When we focus on our priorities, and do one thing at a time, it leads to better work. You cannot be great at one task if you are dividing your attention a dozen different ways. Mastering something requires focus and consistency.

Whether you are working, or retired, you can implement this plan in your day-to-day life and see, with increased productivity, how much you are able to accomplish each day!