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19 Dec

The Ivy Lee method

Datum: 2017-12-19 07:43

Peo­ple have always had var­i­ous ideas on how to get things done with the least amount of effort and become more effi­cient in our work — there’s noth­ing new under the sun. Accord­ing to the his­to­ri­an Toby Lester, even Leonar­do Da Vin­ci had a to-do-list in the note­book that hanged from his belt — a pre­de­ces­sor of today’s to-do-list apps.

Lee’s list
There was a PR-expert at the begin­ning of the 20th cen­tu­ry by the name of Ivy Led­bet­ter in the US. It has been said that he was hired by one of the continent’s largest ship­builders, Beth­le­hem Steel Cor­po­ra­tion, in 1918 — and not to help them with their pub­lic­i­ty, but their productivity.

He was giv­en 15 min­utes with every man­ag­er in the com­pa­ny, dur­ing which he shared his method for get­ting the right things done quickly:

  1. At the end of each work­day, write down six to-do-tasks which are impor­tant to get done dur­ing tomor­row — no more and no less.

  2. Pri­or­i­tize amongst the six tasks; write the most impor­tant first and so on.

  3. When tomor­row comes, start work­ing straight away with the first task and con­tin­ue work­ing until you fin­ish it, then move on to num­ber two (and on it goes).

  4. If you have not fin­ished all the tasks by the end of the day, put the remain­ing tasks on tomorrow’s list (which also just con­tains six tasks).

  5. Repeat every workday.

Will it real­ly have an effect?
If you have read my blog and tips for a while or been to one of my lec­tures, you might guess that I am not com­plete­ly con­vinced that Ivy Lee’s way of get­ting things done actu­al­ly works. For instance, I ask myself where all the oth­er tasks that even­tu­al­ly need to get done are writ­ten in the mean­while, while they are wait­ing to be con­sid­ered and put on the list of the six most impor­tant ones. I also ques­tion how we can with such cer­tain­ty know what the most impor­tant six tasks are the day before we actu­al­ly need to make that call. It stands to rea­son that unfore­seen things show up which we need to pri­or­i­tize above all oth­er tasks.

Nev­er­the­less, there are def­i­nite­ly aspects of the approach we can use, and per­haps Ivy Lee’s method suits you per­fect­ly, so I still con­sid­er it well worth sharing.

Do this
If the Ivy Lee-method or any aspect of it res­onates with you, do this:

  1. What parts of the method do you want to apply some­how? It can be all of it or just a small part. Per­son­al­ly I like the resolve and deter­mi­na­tion with which the six tasks are cho­sen, and the focus that brings.

  2. Take a minute to con­tem­plate how you can apply what­ev­er aspect you liked to how you cur­rent­ly work. I will try choos­ing my tasks for tomorrow’s list of impor­tant tasks soon­er, at least before I leave the office.

  3. Now make the change you need to make in order to imple­ment your idea, or write a to-do-task describ­ing what you will need to do or change, so that it becomes eas­i­er to set the method into motion — per­haps you will try it tomorrow?

Bet­ter and bet­ter, one idea at a time
If you choose to work with just an aspect of it or use all of Ivy Lee’s method, and imple­ment it in your every­day life, you will (prob­a­bly) have refined your struc­ture and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty to some extent. Mak­ing these small changes and alter­ations often based on ideas and meth­ods we pick up here and there is a great way to keep our work­ing meth­ods con­tin­u­ous­ly evolv­ing, and will in the long-run help us shape the days and life we want to lead.

Any oth­er ideas?
What oth­er method or idea did you recent­ly hear about? If you want to spread the word, feel free to leave a comment.