The Ivy Lee method: simple organisation, maximum success !

The Ivy Lee method: simple organisation, maximum success !

ivy lee method simple organisation maximum success
Posted by Wimi Staff, on Monday 15 July 2019, updated on Tuesday 8 June 2021

Since we are not robots, being productive every day can be a real challenge. Surely, you’ve had one of those days in which you have no motivation and you feel like you can’t achieve anything. It’s then that you start regretting getting out of bed…

Although it might not seem like it, being productive every day is highly possible. All you need is a bit of organisation, motivation and discipline as well as good habits. It’s also important to take regular breaks that refresh your ideas, let your brain have a rest and take in the new load of information. It’s the only way to recharge your batteries and increase your concentration span.

Finally, try out the Ivy Lee method. Despite being now 100 years old, this technique is still one of the most simple and efficient ways to boost your daily productivity.

The Origin of the Method

The method was named after its creator, Ivy Lee (1877-1934). He was an expert in advertising who showed the way into the field of Public Relations. Ivy Lee worked as a consultant for several firms notably in the steel, automotive, tobacco and rubber sectors and later started dealing with banks, public institutions and foreign governments.

In 1918, Charles M. Schwab, head of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation (an important enterprise specialised in the shipbuilding industry and in the production of steel) called on Ivy Lee, who was already a renowned expert of productivity, with the goal of increasing the efficiency of his team.

It only took Lee 15 minutes to explain the executives how his method worked: he would receive his pay at the end of the three months according to what the executives would find worth it.

Three months later, Lee received a check signed by Schwab worth $25 000 (the equivalent of today’s $400 000). So that’s how his method became famous.

The Principle of the Method

To use all your performing potential and achieve a high daily productivity, Ivy Lee recommends following these 5 steps:

  1. At the end of every working day, write down the 6 most important tasks you will have to do the next day.
  2. Prioritise these tasks.
  3. The following day start from the first and most important task. Focus entirely on that (bear in mind that multitasking makes you less productive) and work on it until it’s finished. Don’t move onto the next one until the previous task isn’t done.
  4. Work on the remaining 5 tasks the same way. At the end of the day, write down the tasks you haven’t finished doing on a new list of 6 tasks.
  5. Repeat this process every day.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The Ivy Lee method has plenty of advantages that 100 years down the line are still perfectly applicable.

Firstly, it’s really easy to implement – which is the main reason why this method works so well. No need to read books or purchase any bits of equipment, this method is so simple that you quickly get into the habit of using it.

Secondly, this method gives you discipline and forces you to take decisions (choose 6 tasks to write on your list) and stick to them.

The fact that you only choose 6 tasks allows you to focus on what’s really essential to the advancement of your project avoiding wasting time on extremely long lists.

Sometimes it’s hard to start off. You really need to get your list ready the night before so that you can dive in as soon as you get to work the next morning.

The method works like a domino effect: as soon as you take the first step and get your first task done, the next one will follow automatically.

Also, with the Ivy Lee method you’re forced to focus on one task at a time. It’s a matter of fact that multitasking harms your productivity and your IQ. You’re a lot more productive when you focus all your energy on one single task, rather than trying to juggle multiple thigs.


The Ivy Lee method has worked well for 100 years. Beside this method, remember that for you to be productive you need to:

  • Start off your day with the most important task;
  • Avoid multitasking and only focus on one task at a time;
  • Force yourself to have a disciplined routine;
  • Follow a method which is easy to implement.

Finally, if you want to be more efficient, get a piece of software for project management like Wimi. This tool will only make your life easier by improving your productivity and facilitating collaboration and communication within your team. How? It’s easy. Wimi groups together all your projects, documents, data and discussions onto one single platform, which is accessible from anywhere and from any member of the team.

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