Ivy Lee Method: A Simple Guide To Peak Productivity

Ivy Lee Method: 
A Simple Guide To Peak Productivity
KseniaKsenia M.
08 Nov 2023
6 min read
Table of Contents

    Productivity is a journey, not a destination.

    There is always something you can optimize, write to portable task tracker improve, or remember to start doing again. And if you feel that you are ready to make a change, then learning about the Ivy Lee Method might be just what you need.

    Ive Lee Method Summary

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    What is the Ivy Lee Method, exactly?

    The method is a productivity technique designed to help anyone using it achieve more in shorter time periods.

    It is a simple yet efficient system that consists of a number of steps:

    1. At the end of the day, select six tasks you want to finish tomorrow and write them down in your daily planner. You can use free schedule planner online for that.
    2. Prioritize tasks and put the most important task on top of the online planner.
    3. The next day, start with the first task and, when finished, move down to the next task.
    4. Repeat step 3 until the to-do list is complete.
    5. Should something be left unfinished, move it to the top of tomorrow’s list.
    6. Repeat every day for the best results.

    Ivy Lee method checklist

    Extra tips for mastering the Ivy Lee Method

    The Ivy Lee methodology is rather straightforward and easy to figure out. With our bonus tips, however, you will become a true master of it.

    Bonus tips to master Ivy Lee Method

    • Avoid having more than six tasks on your daily to-do list.
    • If you end up with more than six tasks in your simple daily schedule planner and each of them seems important, use the Eisenhower prioritization matrix to help identify what is less important and urgent than everything else.
    • Don’t jump from one job to another trying to multitask. Focus on a single task at a time.
    • If you notice multiple tasks that are dragged over many days in a row, reconsider their priority. Would you truly let something important hang for such a long time? Perhaps it should be disregarded or delegated to someone else. It is easyer when you have a team and you can move or delegate tasks using remote collaboration tools.
    • You might not be able to ace the method from the beginning. Keep trying until it becomes a habit. Consistency is the key to success here.
    • If you try long and hard, but the six-task limit doesn’t work for you, experiment with the number of tasks per day. Don’t go for the extreme, aim to stay within a 3-7 tasks ratio and adapt it to your circumstances.
    • Take care of yourself. Rest, sleep well, eat nutritious food, avoid unnecessary stress, and build good habits like having your tasks under control in your task organizer online. These recommendations are not a part of the method directly, but they are important if you want to be focused and productive.

    And remember: even if you don’t complete everything that was on your list, you will accomplish the most important tasks. So don’t beat yourself up if not 100% of your work gets done every day.

    The best online planner to practice Ivy Lee Method

    Ivy Lee’s take on daily tasks is a good start to a more productive and laid-back life.

    Do you know what’s even better? Bordio’s online calendar planner.

    It offers an intuitive weekly planner with an online to-do list for all important tasks. You can create both tasks and events and see them in the same place. Estimated time and total workload numbers will help you plan your days in the most efficient manner. The waiting list will hold all your unscheduled tasks, allowing you to offload them from your brain and decrease anxiety.

    Bordio Time blocks for study

    And if you struggle with finishing tasks on time, create time blocks for tasks and place them in the day’s schedule in order of importance to reserve the time and ensure you don’t overbook yourself. So Bordio’s free virtual planner is rightfully the best choice.

    Productivity does not have to be complicated. Try Bordio with the Ivy Lee Method and see for yourself.

    Where did Ivy Lee Method come from?

    It is named after a PR professional turned productivity consultant Ivy Lee who came up with this system at the beginning of the twentieth century.

    Ivy Lee shared his method with Charles Schwab, the owner of Bethlehem steel corporation, who was looking for ways to boost his company’s productivity and help management stop wasting valuable time.

    Mr. Schwab was so impressed by the results the method produced, that he signed a hefty check to Mr. Lee for his consultancy services.

    How come the Ivy Lee Method works?

    The 6-step method to boosting productivity and having stuff done is very basic when you think of it. So how exactly does the Ivy Lee Method work?

    Why the Ivy Lee method works

    Helps avoid multitasking

    We focus on one task at a time, which naturally reduces the time every task takes.

    We’ve talked about multitasking being a scam many times already. The cases distributed in the free digital daily planner should be done prioritized one by one, not all together.

    There is no such thing as being able to work on several tasks simultaneously. Instead, what happens is our brain switches quickly from one task to another. Such intense work mode makes us more stressed, increases anxiety, and the chance of making a mistake skyrockets too.

    If you’re interested in productivity tips that are sustainable, check out our expert article on the subject.

    One less decision to make

    We spend every day making decisions. Some of them are minor, others are more noticeable. However, all those decisions leave a tool on our mental state, making us exhausted, and creating decision fatigue.

    And the more decisions we make, the worse they become. With this method, you make the decision the night before, and then you simply follow the list. This type of time management will help keep your psychological health in order.

    A starting point to avoid procrastination

    You can probably remember hundreds of times when you were postponing a task for hours and days. And when you finally got to do that task, 9 times out of 10, you were wondering – it was so easy, why was I putting it off for so long?

    Not many people realize that, but the absence of a solid starting point is a big reason why so many of us procrastinate. Seeing humongous to-do lists in software for work and not knowing where to start makes us anxious and pushes us into thinking that there is so much to do that there’s no point to start.

    Creates boundaries

    There is something magical about imposing limits on the number of tasks you need to go through. Mr. Lee’s method forces us to create a hard finish to the day while achieving peak productivity.

    These days, there is simply too much to do, and if we don’t create boundaries, we end up burnt out and exhausted. Constant effort to do as much as possible is not sustainable.

    Fewer priorities lead to a better work-life balance and mental health.

    Ivy Lee Method is simple

    Simple concepts, especially when it comes to productivity, are often critiqued as something obvious or too simple to really make a difference.

    In reality, though, such simplistic concepts work best because they don’t take a lot of effort to figure out and implement. Humans are naturally trying to avoid everything complicated.

    Too often, we read about a new productivity life hack that sounds great on paper but becomes a nightmare to replicate in real life.

    With the Ivy Lee Method, you most definitely don’t have to worry about that.

    For more productivity hacks, go to Bordio’s blog to read about critical time management skills, Organizing Your Life, Project Management Methodologies, and more.