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The Ivy Lee productivity method is a great way to get more done in less time. I use a variation of this productivity method every single day in my business to help me reach my goals and stay on task!

This will help you get the most important stuff done first, and leave the less important stuff for later. Which is a great way to reach your goals and prioritize important things first!

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Why does the Ivy Lee Productivity Method work?

Sometimes, the more simple something is- the better! If you have an overly complex way of getting your work done or a super annoying way to prioritize and organize things, chances are you’re going to stop using it after some time.

I tend to switch between a few different methods of organizing my business when I get bored with one because, over time, repetition can get boring!

So that’s one of the reasons this method works so well. It’s simple to replicate each day, and doesn’t take a lot of thought or setup to do! Giving you more time to actually work on the things on your list, and less time putting the list together!

What to do before starting the Ivy Lee Productivity Method

However, before we get into how to use the Ivy Lee Productivity Method, there are a few things you need in place to make this method really work for you in the best way possible.

Have your main goal in mind first

In this blog post, we’ll be talking about how you basically need to set mini-goals for the day. But, if you don’t know where those daily goals are leading you, there’s really no point to setting them in the first place!

So what you’ll want to do first is think about where you actually want to go with your business. What are your long-term goals?

The secret to success in your business and reaching your dreams is to actually know where you’re going in the process. Otherwise, all your work could be for nothing!

So write out a few main goals for your business and then work backwards to find out how you plan to get there. It’s pretty much a business plan for yourself so you know where you’re going, and then you create a road map to get there.

It may change over time, but having a main goal in mind is a good place to start.

Maybe you want to make a certain amount of money or have a certain amount of blog posts written. Maybe you know you want to release a product soon.

Then, once the main goal is defined, you can break it down.

How do you plan to make money? How many blog posts would you need to write a month to hit your goal? If you want to release a product, what do you need to work on each day to get it done by the time you set?

This is the behind-the-scenes things you should have figured out in order to make the Ivy Lee Productivity Method work best for you!

Step 1: Choose 6 main tasks for the day

Now let’s talk about the actual steps to the Ivy Lee Productivity Method. With this method, you’ll want to start by setting six tasks to get done for the day, and no more than that.

I’ve actually narrowed mine down to the top 3 tasks I want to do for my business each day.

And those tasks may have more things that go with them. For example, one of my tasks could be “Upload a video to YouTube.”

But, to upload a video, I may need to finish editing, work on the thumbnail, upload it, fill out the description and behind-the-scenes things, and then schedule it.

This is obviously more than one task of just uploading a video, but I don’t need to write every single one of those down in order to remember them. I just know what “upload a YouTube video” means.

So I think of these less as “tasks” and more as “mini goals”. Because when you set the main goal for your business, it may be “Make $1,000 this month.”

There is obviously a lot that goes into that goal, and you need to figure it all out. But, the summary of the goal is “Make $1,000.” That’s the end result.

So, pick out no more than 6 tasks to finish today and write them down somewhere you’ll see them. I personally keep mine on a whiteboard hung up on my wall.

If you’d like to see exactly how my day gets planned out, I did a TikTok of it!

@sarahmarieblog

This is how I stay organized in my business! it’s a super simple method I’ve come up with for keeping on track and not getting overwhelmed. But it’s also not overly complicated or hard to keep up with! otherwise I’d quit on it week 2 😂 #goalsettingtips #reachinggoals #businessowner

♬ original sound – sarahmarieblog

Step 2: Prioritize those 6 tasks from most to least important

Next, you need to prioritize those tasks from most to least important. Obviously, the most important ones should be done first.

I sometimes have a problem with prioritizing tasks and figuring out where I should start, especially if I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Which is why, it’s a good idea to have a plan and only write down as many tasks as you can handle that day (i.e. 6 or less).

You can only get so much done for your business in one day, and I’m sure you’d like to do other things away from your computer as well. So don’t stress yourself out!

Think about which is more important- which one has a sooner deadline, will make you money, or pushes your business forward to the next level the best!

The Ivy Lee Productivity Method- How to Get More Done in Less Time!

Step 3: Stay focused and avoid multitasking

When you plan to start work, make sure you take the thing at the top of your list and focus on that until it’s done. Or at the very least, a place you’re satisfied to stop with.

The key here is, you want to avoid multitasking. Some people think this makes them more productive or that you’ll get more done in less time, and that may be true for select people, but chances are it’s not true at all.

It would seem to make sense that doing more than one thing at once would get things done quicker, but it will either take the same amount of time or in some cases- longer.

Your brain wasn’t meant to focus on two important tasks at once. It’s like trying to have a conversation while reading a book. You can’t do it very effectively.

Your brain would need to focus on the conversation OR the book- it can’t do both. You could try, but chances are you’ll either not hear part of the conversation, or you won’t comprehend whats going on in the book.

The same goes for your business.

It would be like me trying to write this blog post and editing a video at the same time. I’d have to stop each task, re-read or re-watch what I was just editing to refresh my memory, and then keep editing to writing.

Your brain is kind of like a machine. If you are flipping back and forth between one thing and the other, your brain needs time to refocus on the task at hand, switch gears, and then refocus on the other task.

Over and over again.

Not only does that take time to do, but it causes a lot more mental brain power than it would to focus on one task to completion before moving onto another one.

So don’t underestimate the power of focus!

Step 4: Move on to the next task

Once you are done with one task, move on to the next. I know, revolutionary, right?!

Of course, you don’t always need to completely finish each task. I may take a break to step away from editing and move on to something else for a bit to give my brain a break. But I don’t plan on switching between tasks every few minutes!

Sometimes I will edit a video or a blog post over a few days. And if you’re prepping for a bigger task- like doing a product- you may not want to finish the product all in one day.

You’ll still likely want to do other things in the day, so once you reach a stopping point (or if the task is small enough to finish in one sitting) then move to the next task!

Step 5: Move unfinished tasks to the next day

If you didn’t finish something on your list, move it to the top of the list for the next day. This will become the most important thing for you to do the next day.

This will help you start your to-do list for the next day, and you start the day with less thought! When you end your day with a plan for tomorrow, you’ll have an easier time starting the day.

Sometimes creating a plan and starting on it is the hardest thing to do. This method takes away the hard part. Trying to make your to-do list in the morning could be a little tricky and overwhelming when it feels like there is so much to do.

The last step is to repeat!

Overview- How the Ivy Lee Method works

The Ivy Lee Productivity method is only 5 simple steps:

  • Step 1: Choose 6 main tasks for the day
  • Step 2: Prioritize those 6 tasks from least to most important
  • Step 3: Stay focused and avoid multitasking
  • Step 4: Move on to the next task
  • Step 5: Move unfinished tasks to the next day

Yes, it really is that simple!

If you liked the Ivy Lee Productivity Method, check out some other posts I have on productivity!

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8 Comments

  1. We think multitasking helps better utilize our time.
    But believe me that’s not really true! Instead multitasking takes a lot of effort and time than if that work is done individually. It only creates the pressure of work. For me this is most important point to worth noting.

    Thanks for sharing this productivity post.

    1. Multi-tasking is definitely not the way to go!

  2. Since you put them in order from least important to most important, it sounds like the first task of the day is the least important one. Then if you don’t complete all six tasks, the most important ones don’t get done. That doesn’t make sense to me. Am I misunderstanding? Thanks.

    1. I never really thought about it like that! I guess it would make more sense to order it the other way, I’ll have to change that to make it more clear! Thanks for pointing it out.

  3. I’d never heard of this, but I do a couple of bits from it anyway. I might give this a try when I come back from holiday, great post.

  4. I’ve never heard of this method before. It sounds like a good method to be more productive as it eliminates multitasking, which is something I sometimes struggle with! Thank you for this post!
    – Pixie | Productive Pixie

    1. It has really helped me focus! I hope it helps you as well!

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