Ever find yourself wishing there were more hours in a day?
Chances are, you have, and on more than one occasion — we're all busy people, after all, and it can be hard to balance our ever-growing list of ongoing to-dos.
Schwab was the president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, the largest shipbuilder and the second-largest steel producer in the U.S. at the time.
It was one day in 1918 that Schwab–in his quest to increase the efficiency of his team and discover better ways to get things done–arranged a meeting with a highly respected productivity consultant named Ivy Lee.
Lee was a successful businessman in his own right and is widely remembered as a pioneer in the field of public relations. As the story goes, Schwab brought Lee into his office and said, “Show me a way to get more things done.”
“Give me 15 minutes with each of your executives,” Lee replied.
“How much will it cost me?” Schwab asked.
“Nothing,” Lee said. “Unless it works. After three months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel it’s worth to you.”
During his 15 minutes with each Bethlehem executive, Lee explained his method for achieving peak productivity:
1. At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
3. When you arrive the next morning, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
4. Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
5. Repeat this process every working day.
Lee's strategy sounded simple, but Schwab and his executive team gave it a try. After three months, Schwab was so delighted with the progress his company had made that he called Lee into his office and wrote him a check for $25,000, the equivalent
of $400,000 today.
What makes it so effective?
It's simple enough to actually work.
It forces you to make tough decisions.
It removes the friction of starting.
It requires you to single-task.
Do the most important thing first each day. It's the only productivity trick you need.