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Boost your Productivity with the Ivy Lee Method

What is the Ivy Lee Method

The Origin

The Ivy Lee method is a strategy designed to maximise productivity.

The Ivy Lee method was originally developed back in 1918, when a productivity consultant named Ivy Lee was hired by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation (the largest shipbuilder in America at the time).

When they asked Ivy Lee how much his services would cost, he simply asked them to send a check to him after 3 months based on how much they felt his services were worth.

Once those 3 months were up, the organisation was more profitable and the employee's were more productive than ever. They ended up writing a check to Ivy Lee for $25,000, equivalent to $400,000 today.

It's safe to say, when used right this strategy is incredibly effective at boosting your productivity levels. 

What it Involves

The Ivy Lee method is as simplistic as they come. All it requires is you spending some time at the end of each day to jot down the 6 most important tasks to complete the following day in order of importance.

The Ivy Lee Productivity Method

  1. At the end of the day, write down a maximum of 6 tasks you would like to accomplish tomorrow. No more than 6 is the key here, you don't want to over exert yourself or stress yourself out.
  2. Now you've got your 6 tasks, you need to rank them in order of importance. To do this you may need to consider the deadlines of the tasks, the impact of doing them and the consequences of not doing them. 
  3. Once the next day rolls around, start working on the task that you decided was most important.
  4. Once you complete the most important task, start working on the second most important task.
  5. Keep repeating the process until you've accomplished all of your tasks that you set for the day and then you can start to devise your tasks for the next day.

The Benefits of the Ivy Lee Method 

Benefit #1: Bypasses the hurdle of starting

Often, starting a task can be harder than completing the task itself. We may find ourselves getting distracted or not knowing where to start when we've got a huge pile of tasks to complete. This just slows us down and prevents us from completing our tasks in an efficient manner.

However, by already having a list of 6 tasks that you need to complete today and having them ranked in order of importance, you can stop yourself wasting time deciding what to start on and how to begin. Instead you can get straight to work and start checking off tasks on your list; thus improving your productivity.

Benefit #2: Prevents you from Multi-Tasking

Despite many people opting to multi-task in an attempt to increase their productivity, it could be one of the worst things you could do for your productivity levels.

Ivy Lee method

Neuroscientists have discovered that multitasking can have a very noticeable effect on your productivity levels, those who often multitask prove to be worse at memorising and recalling information.  

The Ivy Lee method advises you to focus on one task at a time. By being fully focused on one task at a time, you may find yourself not only completing the work to a better quality but also at a faster pace. 

Benefit #3: Requires less Decisions

Science has consistently shown that there is only so much mental energy we can exert on a daily basis before our decision making and judgement ability is impaired. 

By having a list of tasks already noted down in order of importance, you can get to work straight away. There's no need to waste your mental energy trying to decide on where to start or what to do, instead you can use that mental energy on your tasks straight away. 

Benefit #4: It Imposes Limits 

By having a set limit of 6 tasks every day that you work on, there's a set limit on how much you can achieve on a daily basis. Whilst it may seem like a drawback, this is often an incredible advantage for your productivity levels.

When there's no limits on how much we can achieve on a daily basis, we may often over-exert ourselves and burn out over the long term; this tends to lead to very little work getting done over the long term.

The Ivy Lee method ensures that this is not the case. Instead you can consistently work at a steady pace, allowing the small progress to add up over time. 


We all react differently to productivity strategies, some may find productivity methods that emphasise time-management are right for them whilst some may be more productive with a task orientated method such as this Ivy Lee method. The only way to find out which one is right for you, is to try it out. If the Ivy Lee productivity method sounds like it might be suited to you, be sure to try it out and record your results. Hopefully your productivity will rise to unprecedented levels. 




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