The story goes that back in 1918, the businessman Charles M. Schwab invited the productivity consultant Ivy Lee to advise him (1). Lee asked for 15 minutes with each of his executives. When asked what it would cost him, he replied “Nothing, unless it works. After 3 months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel it’s worth to you”


3 months later, Schwab wrote Lee a check for USD 25’000 which is around the equivalent of USD 400’000 today. What was Lee’s advice that led to such a handsome payout? 

Lee told the executives to at the end of the workday make a list of the six most important things they wanted to accomplish the day after. They were then to prioritise them in order of true importance. They had to concentrate on the first task and only move to the second once the first was done. They then continued with the other tasks doing them one by one in a similar fashion. When the day was complete, if there were any unfinished tasks, these were to be moved to the next day and the process repeated.

It sounds simple but in this day and age of multitasking, it can be hard to stick to. I’ve been testing it out lately and I like it. It helps you focus on the most important thing that needs to get done. 

Experiment and see if it suits you. 


  1. Source: https://jamesclear.com/ivy-lee