How to Set Priorities for Your Day Using the Ivy Lee Method

The Ivy Lee method is a simple daily routine for achieving peak productivity first documented in 1918 by the highly-respected productivity consultant named Ivy Lee. 

The method is so useful, that when Charles M. Schwab, one of the richest men in the world, went to Ivy Lee to discuss this, Lee didn’t ask for any consultation fee. Instead, he asked Schwab to practice the method for 15 minutes each day for three months. After three months, Schwab could pay Lee whatever he thought the method was worth.

How to apply the Ivy Lee method

This is a simple 15-minute routine you can apply each day in the morning to set your priorities straight and get the most out of your day. It involves the following steps, namely:

  1. At the end of each day, write down six of the most important things you plan to accomplish the next day. Don’t write more than six tasks. Don’t settle for less than six tasks. Stick to the magic number — six.
  2. Next, prioritize each task based on how urgent it is and how quickly it needs to be completed.
  3. When you wake up the next morning, start with the first task on the list. No matter how tedious it gets or how tempted you are to move on to the other tasks, refrain. Be strong, and only move forward to the other tasks once your first task is complete.
  4. After the first task is complete, move on to the next task.
  5. Approach the rest of the tasks on your list in a similar fashion. At the end of the day, if any task remains to be completed, carry it forward to your list of tasks for the next day.
  6. Repeat this process every day.

How to make this a part of your routine

When you have someone to hold you accountable and keep track of your progress, the journey towards being a regular writer and follower of to-do lists becomes easier and less tedious. You can hire an accountability coach to help you get back on track if you ever fall off the wagon. 

You can also download a habit tracker to mark the days on the calendar when you managed to stick to your habit of writing a to-do list daily.