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The Time-Tested Productivity Hack You Need to Try

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.

When Success Feels Hollow

Morning Coffee

Success vs. Value

Some mornings you just need a cup of coffee and a little inspiration. This morning as I’m sipping my coffee, I’m thinking about success. If you’re like me, it’s one of those things you’ve striven for your whole life. I was even voted “Most Likely to Succeed” back in high school. While I’ve done almost everything I’ve set out to do, it doesn’t feel the way I expected. There’s still this nagging feeling that actual “success” is just beyond my reach. Maybe you’ve felt that way too?

As with most things in life, a fresh perspective usually helps. I came across this quote and it got me thinking.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

-Winston Churchill

I don’t know about you, but all my efforts to be “successful” have felt empty. Don’t get me wrong, there’s an initial rush of, “I did it!” It feels amazing at the time, but that fades pretty quickly. That’s probably because success is not final. You have to keep going. Life moves beyond that point. On the heels of each success, it’s time to set new goals and dream new dreams… Keeping in mind that failure isn’t fatal. Stagnation is.

Furthermore, Albert Einstein said,

Try not to become a [person] of success, but rather try to become a [person] of value.

Regardless of where we are in our journeys, we can always grow, change, and become the best version of ourselves we can be rather than resting on our laurels. Being a person of excellence, and treating every client, co-worker, or employee with value sounds pretty successful to me. Laying a framework for continual growth in every area- work, relationships, giving back, etc.- should help through the ebbs and flows of success.

Final Thoughts

How many stories have we all heard about people who were on top of the world? They had everything they’d worked for- success, fame, fortune- only to lose it all in a haze of self-destruction. Why? Because it wasn’t what they expected. They got to the top only to think, “Now what?”

Is it time for you to set new goals? What can you be doing to “become a person of value”? Beyond that, what can you be doing to add value to your  relationships, job, and community?

For the Days You’re Second-Guessing Your Goals

ftdysgygYou know that time when you decided to start three blogs, run a wedding planning business, and curate an online course? Wait. You didn’t do that? Oh, it’s because you’re not a masochist.

Yeah. I, on the other hand, decided it would be a great to take on all those things at once. I don’t recommend it. I’m technically living my dream… but some days I have to remind myself that it was a good idea to pursue my goals. Which brings me to the point of this post.

What They Aren’t Showing You

If you’ve been on Social Media for about 5 seconds or so, I’m sure you’ve seen the posts about how people have started a million dollar business in 30 days or less in 17 easy steps. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but you know the posts I’m talking about.

Those women (and men) look like they have it all together. After all, their entire life is completely Pinworthy and just screams for a double tap on Instagram. It’s easy to start playing the comparison game, even when we know they must have bad days too.

Of course, since I’m a modern female entrepreneur, I’ve taken (or am in the middle of) all sorts of social media courses. What I didn’t realize is just how long it would take to get that one perfect Instagram shot. I have one. Literally one. The lighting was perfect, the backdrop was amazing, and the flowers were on point. The funny thing about that shot is what no one could see in the background. The kitchen was a mess. I had shoe boxes holding up the flowers. Oh, and it took approximately 30 tries to get that one impeccable image.

I’m sitting here looking at my ever-expanding to-do list. My perfectly plotted blog posts, course outlines, and social media strategies, which I didn’t get around to completing this week, are staring back at me. I’d be tempted to call this a failure, but thankfully I’ve learned what they aren’t showing you on Social Media. Sometimes it’s in the middle of our biggest messes that we get the perfect shot.

So here’s to you! To all the people pursuing their passions on the days they feel like giving up, may you get the perfect shot… Even if it’s messier than you imagined.


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