After leaving my 8 to 5 job to run my business from home, it didn’t take long to discover I needed to boost my daily productivity. There was so much to do! It was overwhelming. My daily task lists were at least 20 to 30 items long. I was overrun with work, and needed a simpler method to stay on track. That’s when I discovered the Ivy Lee Method.

The Backstory

Apparently, sometime in 1918, the wealthy Charles M. Schwab sought the services of productivity consultant Ivy Lee. Even though Schwab was already very successful, he wanted to get even more done. Lee took on the task and came up with a simple (and still effective) five-step productivity hack.

The Method

Are you ready? It’s pretty elegant in its simplicity.

  1. At the end of each day, write down the six most important things you need to get done the next day. Do not write down more than six.
  2. Prioritize items in order of importance.
  3. Each morning, focus on the first task. Work until the first item is completed before moving to the second task.
  4. Approach the rest of the list the same way. Continue moving unfinished tasks to the next day’s list.
  5. Repeat daily.

The Takeaway

I know, I know. Some of you are saying, “I literally have 85 things to do every day.” I get it. Being a small business owner, or a blogger, or a parent, means you wear a lot of different hats. But this method really does work. Has been working for nearly a hundred years.

Why is it so effective? It helps you:

  • prioritize
  • focus
  • critically think about your tasks
  • cut out extraneous items from your day
  • have a ready-made structure for the next morning.

Plus, just because you’re focusing on six top items, doesn’t mean that you won’t have extra time in your day to take on even more. Once you’ve crossed off your “top six” by all means, keep going! But at the very least, you know the most crucial to-do items are getting done.

I designed this printable with the Ivy Lee Method in mind to keep myself focused. It’s simple and easy to use!  It has helped me immensely, and I hope it helps you too.

14 Comments on The Time-Tested Productivity Hack You Need to Try

  1. Carlie
    April 7, 2017 at 6:41 pm (11 months ago)

    I NEED to try this. I usually make a gigantic to-do list and none of it gets done. Thank you for sharing these great tips! Can’t wait to try.

    • Stacy
      April 7, 2017 at 10:12 pm (11 months ago)

      Hope it helps! I love not having mile-long to-do lists anymore!

  2. Stephanie
    April 7, 2017 at 6:47 pm (11 months ago)

    love how concise and simple this advice is! I will definitely start incorporating it into my routine! have a great weekend!


    • Stacy
      April 7, 2017 at 10:11 pm (11 months ago)

      Thanks! Hope you have a great weekend too!

  3. Julie
    April 7, 2017 at 11:29 pm (11 months ago)

    Loving the simplicity. Lately I have been feeling pretty overwhelmed with tasks, will give this a shot! Thanks 🙂

    • Stacy
      April 8, 2017 at 2:35 pm (11 months ago)

      Hope it helps with the overwhelm, Julie! Have a great weekend!

  4. Bailey
    April 8, 2017 at 2:01 am (11 months ago)

    I love this! I always over book myself and need to learn to prioritize.

    • Stacy
      April 8, 2017 at 2:36 pm (11 months ago)

      Totally understand! This method has definitely helped me prioritize better.

  5. Derika | Me As A Mom
    April 8, 2017 at 2:27 am (11 months ago)

    Could this post have come at a more perfect time!? I literally add things to my to-do list non-stop throughout the day. I constantly feel overwhelmed and now, I’m implementing this strategy. Thank you times a million!

    • Stacy
      April 8, 2017 at 2:34 pm (11 months ago)

      You’re welcome! I hope it helps!

  6. Christine
    April 8, 2017 at 7:13 am (11 months ago)

    Oh, this sounds brilliant! I shall have to try it. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

    • Stacy
      April 8, 2017 at 2:37 pm (11 months ago)

      Hope you love it when you try it!!

  7. Veronika
    April 8, 2017 at 3:30 pm (11 months ago)

    I’m also big on prioritizing what’s important. We tend to create a to-do list and finish the easy tasks first but then you always end up not having enough time for the important projects. Thanks for all the advice!


1Pingbacks & Trackbacks on The Time-Tested Productivity Hack You Need to Try

  1. […] I recommend time blocking. It’s exactly like it sounds, setting aside blocks of your day to do particular tasks. If you’re most energetic in the mornings, you may set those aside for communicating with clients and creative projects and block out afternoons for clerical (less-energetic) tasks. For more productivity hacks, check out this post. […]

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