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The Ivy Lee Method for Personal Productivity
If you have never heard of Ivy Lee, it’s time for a short history lesson.
More than 100 years ago, Ivy Ledbetter Lee helped to pioneer the practice of Public Relations and Crisis Communications. Working for the railroad industry, he ran one of the first-ever PR campaigns. The campaign pushed for a rate increase for rail companies from a very reluctant Federal Government. Like so many other challenges he engaged, Lee won the day.
Lee was also the first to promote the idea of company news releases to the media and to favor internal magazines to increase employee morale inside large organizations. He was a highly productive thinker and leader. It should come as no surprise, then, that Lee also influenced how leaders make the most of their day. A century later, tens of thousands of leaders still follow his sound advice for personal productivity.
Lee’s method for becoming more productive was straightforward and simple. He advised leaders to write down the six most important tasks for the next day before retiring for the evening. The highest priority for the next morning was to rank the six tasks in order of importance from the most to the least important.
Next, he advised leaders to tackle one task at a time in the order of importance. Lee’s method then emphasized this critical point: Leaders should not begin the next task until they have fully completed the one before it. Any unfinished tasks at the end of the day were added to the six tasks for the next day.
By asking leaders to follow that simple sequence and to accomplish the most important thing first each day, he changed the way leaders think about productivity for years to come. An ocean of leaders still rely on the Ivy Lee method to get the most out of their time and day. The idea of prioritizing a short list of important tasks is baked into the psyche of just about everyone, thanks to Ivy Lee.
Do you start your day with the most important task and work hard to complete it before tackling anything else? Learn from Ivy Lee. Some great ideas never lose their impact.