An Incredibly Simple Routine for Getting More Done

Everybody wants to get more done. There are entire companies built on the promise that if you use their system, you’ll accomplish more than you would using any other program. Productivity management can get complicated with all the different forms, tracking sheets, and ways of dividing projects up into manageable portions. Choosing a system from the myriad available is hard enough, and then you have to spend time figuring out how to use the one you choose.

But does productivity management have to be so complicated? I read an article this week in Entrepreneur magazine that proposed an extremely simple routine for being more productive.

The article tells the story of how this simple routine came to be. Charles Schwab, president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in 1918, wanted to increase the efficiency of his team and discover better ways to get things done. He arranged a meeting with a highly-respected productivity consultant named Ivy Lee. Lee gave him an outline for a productivity system, and told him not to pay him unless it worked. If it worked, Schwab should pay him whatever he thought it was worth.

Here’s the system:

  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 tomorrow, 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.

At the end of a 3-month period, Schwab wrote Lee a check for today’s equivalent of $400,000.

Why does this system work so well? It’s simple. You don’t have to remember a long list of instructions, and it doesn’t require extra work. It forces you to make the tough decisions on what really matters, what’s really important. It requires you to focus on one thing at a time — multi-tasking isn’t efficient, but focus is. And it helps you go ahead and get started — you’re not procrastinating by over-planning.

If you give this method a try, let me know how it works for you!

Published on September 18th, 2015 in Blog

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