Ivy Lee Time Management Method: One of the Simplest and Effective Method

The Ivy Lee time management method is yet another option for people interested in saving themselves from the constant struggle of constantly feeling like they are behind on the tasks and chores they know they need to take care of. There are better ways to tackle these problems.


What is the Ivy Lee Method?

The simplest way to explain the Ivy Lee method is that it is a checklist method of productivity. You will include the six most important tasks of your day and how you can slice and dice through them until you finish the things that truly matter the most to you.


The Origin Story of the Ivy Lee Method

The Ivy Lee method has been in use since at least 1918. 

Charles M. Schwab was the President of the Bethlehem Steel Company and had a problem keeping his employees on task and doing what they needed. That is why he reached out to someone named Ivy Lee to see what could be done about this. 

Ivy Lee discussed with Schwab the benefits of a new productivity method for his employees. Ivy wanted to show that there could be massive efficiency improvements. That is why he came up with a productivity method for the company that Schwab was so happy with that he wanted Lee to continue to help him out. From then on, the Ivy Lee time management template of six tasks would take hold at Bethlehem Steel and other companies that saw just how useful it could be in achieving their goals. 

The workers found the footing they needed by remaining focused on a solitary task until it was finished in full. It helped them start to get more tasks completed in full before moving on to the next thing. This meant fewer tasks were left uncompleted and all 6 of the tasks were important tasks.


done list


How the Ivy Lee Method Works

If the Ivy Lee Method was good enough for Charles Schwab, it should work well for you too. Indeed, many people look at the Ivy Lee method and might want to use it for personal or business needs. So let’s get into it with a few simple steps:


Ivy Lee Time Management Planner

This planner is where you would write down everything that you planned to do for the day and how you intended to get it done. Although purchasing an Ivy Lee time management planner is optional, it is highly recommended if you want to get the absolute most out of this method. After all, the planner can be your key to start to unlock the magic that is behind this method. You will want to use it to write down the six most important tasks list that you will make to start using this method. 



Create Your List

You will start by writing down the 6 most important things in your planner. You need to have this comprehensive list because you need to be able to go through it line by line to make sure you are getting everything important. People often discover that they have at least 6 things they want to tackle in their day. 

You may include things such as preparing for a meeting at work, paying due bills, or helping your children with their homework. Whatever your list contains, make sure you put the absolute most important things in it front and center. 


Order Your List

From top to bottom, you should order your list. This means that you want to make sure you list the most important things you need to do with your day at the top of the list and the least important at the bottom. It may be challenging because everything on your list will be important to you, but you should order them from the fastest to accomplish to those that will take a lot longer to get done. 

This part of the process may remind you of the ABC time management method in that you are sorting things based on their importance to your day. 


Work Through the List in Precise Order

Getting through your list in precise order is the best way to go about things. You have already got it marked up and ready to go. Now you need to make sure you are working through it in the way that it is designed to be worked through. In other words, start to follow the list that you created for yourself. It would help if you always stuck to your list and the order that you have set it up in unless there is an excellent reason why you need to alter course. Staying with your original plan is the best way to complete the list. 


Mark Each Completed Task

Allow yourself to see some progress by marking through each task as you complete it. This will give you the sense of momentum you need to carry on. 


Repeat These Steps

You start at the very beginning again after you have made it through your list. This will allow you to draw up the 6 most important aspects of your day you want to get to. Before you know it, you will knock out some of the most important aspects of your day repeatedly. The real important things in life will be getting done, and you will keep doing that until it is all finished. 


Why Does the Ivy Method Work So Well? 

There are a few reasons why the Ivy Method works so well for people. We wanted to examine a few reasons why people seemingly get so much from this. 



Tasks Ordering Helps You See What Matters

A mistake that some people make is not ordering their tasks by priority and importance. The problem with this is that they spend time on things that only genuinely deserve their full time and attention. When using the Ivy Lee method, one is forced to think about the various tasks one wants to get to in their day. They write them down and then reorder them so they can see where their energy should honestly be spent. This is eye-opening for many people, and it suggests that there are ways to help yourself see the bigger picture as it needs to be seen. 


Concentrated Focus on Certain Areas

Multi-tasking has been praised for years as the way to get everything done, but it only sometimes works the way people say it does. Multi-tasking is a terrible way to get things done because it depletes your resources and ultimately leaves you unable to accomplish all you set out to do. If you are someone with a lot on your plate, such as an entrepreneur, you may be tempted to do more than you can accomplish, but you need to resist that urge. Keep your energy centered on one task at a time to get the best possible results. 

The Ivy Lee time management method can help reduce the amount of multi-tasking you do daily. It will allow you to focus on getting through one task at a time until you reach the point where you aren’t getting so distracted all the time. It may seem small, but it reduces all of the time lost to multi-tasking, which adds up! 


Consistency From Day to Day

Some of the best productivity methods, such as the Seinfeld method, are about remaining consistent. In the case of the Seinfeld method, consistency lies in doing the same thing every day for as many days in a row to show forward progress. The Ivy time management method marks out the daily tasks you have taken care of. In essence, you are simply repeatedly repeating the same steps of knocking out your 6 most important things each day. The consistency that this provides to you is something worth paying attention to. After all, staying on track with a productivity method is often just about keeping yourself disciplined and on schedule. 


How Many Tasks Does the Ivy Lee Method Have?

The tasks you should put on your Ivy Lee method day are 6. Sometimes you may be overwhelmed even by that number of tasks. If that is the case, you will want to shorten it and give yourself some grace to handle a smaller number of tasks. Doing so is fine if you realize that you can’t keep up. Remember, 6 is the highest number you should shoot for with this one. 


2 Main Things to Keep in Mind With the Ivy Lee Method

Similar to other methods, such as the Pareto time management method or the Kanban time management method, the Ivy Lee method requires you to be on top of things and make sure you are focused on hitting the right goals that you have set out for yourself. It means you must take responsibility for getting things together and making them work right for you. 


1. Don’t Overburden Yourself

You are not competing with anyone else using the Ivy Lee method. It is merely meant to help you accomplish more in your day. If you only consider it a competition against yourself, then you are doing something right. 


2. Repeat the Cycle When You are Done

Keep repeating the cycle of things to knock off your to-do list when you are done. The odds are high that you have more than 6 things that you know you need to focus on. If you repeat the cycle once you are finished, you will be in a better place to get more out of this method. 


Ivy Lee Time Management Template 

If you wish to use a template to help keep yourself on task using the Ivy Lee time management method, you are more than welcome to do so. Such a template may help you see how you are progressing throughout your day with this method. You may rely on it more and more as time goes on because you can see just how important it is to get things done. 



The Ivy Lee time management method has been around for over 100 years. People have put their faith and trust in it, and you should. If you have been looking for a long-trusted way of getting things off your to-do list, then this is the way to go. 

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