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The Ivy Lee Method Is a 100-Year-Old Productivity Secret

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These days, it seems like everyone has a new productivity secret. Download this app! Buy this planner! Try this mindfulness trick! But sometimes, it's worth looking to the old standbys. The Ivy Lee Method is 100 years old, and modern go-getters still swear by it today.

Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is

Procrastination is a stranger to no one, something that a man named Ivy Lee knew quite well. In 1918, Lee, who was a productivity consultant and is regarded as a pioneer in public relations, had a meeting with Charles Schwab, who was one of the richest men in the world at the time.

Schwab was looking to up the efficiency of his team. Lee gave Schwab his five-step method, and told Schwab to pay him what he thinks he deserves after three months of his method in action. Ninety days later, Schwab paid Lee the equivalent of $400,000 in today's dollars.

The Method

You're on the edge of your seat, aren't you? Here's the five-step Ivy Lee Method:

  1. Write down the six (and no more!) most important things you need to accomplish the next day at the end of your work day.
  2. Put those six items in order of importance.
  3. Concentrate only on the first task when you get into work the next day, then move on to the next item once that's completed.
  4. If you don't get to all six tasks, move the remaining tasks to your new list for the next day.
  5. Repeat this process every working day.

Now that you have it down, hear from someone who swears by it in the video below.

How To Get Things Done

Spoiler: It's the Ivy Lee Method.

The Only 3 Productivity Tips You Need

Wonder what Lee would think of this.

Written by Joanie Faletto October 3, 2016

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