The Ivy Lee Method is a simple and effective way to create a to-do list. The method focuses on priorities and makes the person work on one thing at a time. 

Just creating a to-do list will never make life easier. Ivy lee method helps you to make the best use of the to-do lists and make the most out of it. Before understanding, ivy lee here’s a brief history of how the ivy lee method came into existence.  

Table of Content

Sr NoBlog Post Content
1History of Ivy Lee Method
2The Ivy Lee Method Guide
3How Ivy Lee Method Works
4My Personal Ivy Lee Method Experience
5Ivy Lee Method Planner

What is Ivy Lee and Charles Schwab’s story?

Charles m Schwab was an American steel magnate. Under his leadership, Bethlehem Steel became the second-largest steelmaker in the United States and one of the most important heavy manufacturers in the world.

In 1918 while working on various things he found that the employees were not as productive as they should be. And wanted to increase the productivity of his employees and called the then famous public relation and productivity consultant Ivy lee.

Lee was already famous and a pioneer in the field of public relations. At the meeting, Les Schwab asked him to help him in making his employees more productive. Lee simply asked for 15 minutes with each of his executives.  

On asking for the cost of consultancy, Lee just said Nothing. “If it doesn’t work pay me nothing, After three months if you see any improvement send me a check of whatever amount you wish”

But after three months Schwab was so delighted with the results that he sends Lee a check for $25000, which amounts to something around $400k to $450k in today’s value.

The Strategy was simple but this simple method gave amazing results.

We all create a daily to-do list, but hardy are able to accomplish anything. Either we have hundreds of items on our list or are just confused about which task to do. And if you don’t have a to-do list then you are totally lost on what to do.

The strategy helps you to focus on more important tasks and helps you to stop procrastinating and get things done.

The Ivy Lee Method

The Ivy Lee method is divided into 4 simple steps. 

  • Create a To-Do list. Each night write down 6 tasks to accomplish the next day.
  • Now arrange these 6 tasks in descending order of priority. The highest priority first.
  • Focus on one task. Don’t move to the next task till the first one is done
  • At the end of the day, all unfinished tasks are to be added to the next day’s list.

Ivy Lee Method

Step 1: Create a To-do list

If that wasn’t obvious. But the catch is, that you need to create a to-do list of just 6 tasks. Only 6, not more than that or less than that. And you need to create the list the night before. 

Make sure you don’t create the list on the day of work because this might waste a lot of time. If you are a working professional, then before wrapping up the day’s work make sure to list down the task for the next day.

Step 2: Assigning priorities

Once all the 6 tasks are listed, now arrange them in the order of priority. The highest priority task is at the top. If something needs to be done that day at any cost then assign the task a higher priority. You are a better judge at assigning your own priority than anyone else.

Step 3: Focus on One

Once the list is created and the priorities are assigned. Make sure you start working on the highest priority first. Don’t move to the next task unless the task with higher priority is finished.

Step 4: Unfinished task for the next day.

At the end of the day, evaluate all the tasks accomplished. If you have accomplished all 6 then you might get started with a new list for the next day. If you have any pending tasks then move them to the next day and start overall again.

Why Ivy Lee method Works?

The Ivy Lee strategy is pretty straightforward. You don’t need rocket science to understand it. But there are three things that make this strategy effective.

Kiss Methodology

Yes, keep it simple stupid. The method is as simple as it sounds. Due to its simplicity, it is easier to implement it at any level. As a working professional in an MNC, I have often seen that when the process and tasks become complex things are difficult to handle. People sometimes misunderstand complex processes for important tasks.

But sometimes a method this simple which is of 4 steps can also work. You don’t need a complex task organizer or task delegator which takes millions of dollars.

Deciding on Priorities.

Setting up priorities helps us in understanding which task is of utmost importance. We might even differ some tasks for the future and only jot down those tasks which are of utmost importance.

Yes, sometimes there will be tasks that will come uninvited. But I would always suggest you stick to the list unless the task is of much more important than the one you have at hand. If the task can be postponed then make it happen.

Focus on one thing

What makes this strategy work is its focus on just one task. We as humans think that we can multi-task and manage multi things at once. Which sometimes can be done. But most of the time will bring more harm than good. Calling while driving is a punishable offense because it assumes that humans cannot perform multiple tasks.

If you focus on just one task then that would provide you with better results than when you are handling multi-tasks together.

My personal experience with the Ivy Lee method.

The Ivy Lee method came to my attention when I was looking for to-do list strategies. In this pandemic, I was trying to get more organized and get more things done. So I started using the todoist app and planned multiple tasks for the day.

After listing all my tasks there were around 35 things on the list. At the end of the day, I was not able to achieve even a single task. So I thought the to-do list is just a gimmick. 

But then I started searching for to-do list strategies.  This is when I bumped into an article on Ivy Lee and then one thing led to another. It has been 6 months that I have been using the ivy lee method. 

Obviously, this is not the only method to work with to-do lists. But this is something that has worked more. So these days every day I make it a task to see that I create a to-do list before I sleep. I also tried going the old classic way to the to-do list and designed my own Ivy lee method planner.

Ivy Lee Method Planner

I also read somewhere that it’s more effective when you write your tasks down on a piece of paper. So I decided to create my very own Ivy lee method planner or you can also call it the Ivy Lee method worksheet.

Ivy Lee Method

This is the Ivy Lee method worksheet and designed based on Ivy Lee’s strategies. You get options to jot down 6 tasks.

You can download the Ivy Lee Planner from the Gumroad embed above. Mention your name and Email Id and I will Mail you the planner.

There is also a brain dump option given so that you can write down tasks that come to you while working. And notes section to write down some critical things.

Ivy Lee’s strategy is one of many task planner methods. Sometimes it may suit you and sometimes not. If it doesn’t suit then look for something else and work on it.

I was led to write this article after reading a lot about different easy-to-build habits from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. If this article is something that you like then you will definitely like the book.


Hey, I am Chetan Poojari the founder of Geeksla. I work as a Product Manager and also an Online Content Creator. A travel and tech junkie who writes articles to simplify complex things.

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