In 1918 Charles Schwab, the President of Bethlehem Steel hired productivity coach Ivy Lee to increase productivity at the steel giant. Schwab suspected the company could do more.
Mr. Lee met with Schwab and the senior team as a group for about an hour or so. Afterward, Lee met individually with each member of the team for 15 minutes each.
He then met back with Schwab with this one recommendation.
For the next 30 workdays, at the thirty-minute mark before leaving work for the day, each person on the senior team were to write down no more than 6 things to do tomorrow.
They were working on them one at a time in order of importance. Focus only on the task at hand. No multitasking. Anything not finished, was added to the list for the next day.
Schwab did not like what he heard and objected we all know how to make a to-do list.
Lee re-stated his objection and emphasized, well none of you are doing your to-do list as I suggested, only 6 items written on paper at the end of today and working on the items one at a time in order of importance.
Lee got Schwab to agree to do it for 30 days in a row. No excuses and at the end of 30 days you can write me a check for what YOU think it was worth. No fee today.
Pay me in 30 days if you think it was worth anything.
In 30 days, Schwab cut Lee a check for $25,000.
In today’s dollars, that’s $483,934.
There’s magic in making the list at the end of the workday. And the magic is really pen to paper. Typing it on a document is better than no list, but writing by hand connects more to the brain, affecting thinking and behavior.
You and your team will be working on this mentally as you drive home, at home, in the morning prepping for work, and on the drive into the office. It happens. More productivity is practically guaranteed.
It’s served me, our teams, businesses, and those we’ve taught very well for many years.
We call it the Daily Task List. If you currently use it, would you do me and Amanda a favor and reply back with a short note of how it works for you.
If you would like a copy of the simple form reply back and Amanda will make sure that you receive it right away.