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Do This to Achieve Peak Productivity

The 100-year-old strategy that will help you focus.

By Candice GalekPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
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I've always been an avid list maker. It's how I navigate all of the madness bouncing around in my head on a daily basis. So when I heard about this life hack I had to give it a try. Now, I find myself recommending it to friends who are walking the line of career burnout.

The Ivy Lee method is a 100-year-old strategy for helping people become more productive at work. Imagine feeling accomplished at the end of each workday, and having newfound time for hobbies.

When you hyper-focus and cross line items from your to-do list, you will find yourself feeling much better about the work you are doing. Sometimes we fall into a rut of busying ourselves with “work” without accomplishing much of anything at all.

Under this methodology, at the end of each night, you write down your six most important tasks to accomplish the following day in order of importance.

The next day, you begin working on the tasks one at a time. The strategy works because it reduces “decision fatigue,” saves you time, and forces you to prioritize your goals.

How to do The Ivy Lee Method

  1. At the end of each workday, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow — only six tasks.
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
  4. Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. Move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  5. Repeat this process every working day.

What makes the Ivy Lee Method so effective?

  • It’s simple enough to actually work.
  • It forces you to make tough decisions.
  • It removes the friction of starting.
  • It requires you to single-task.

Here’s the bottom line: Do the most important thing first each day. It’s the only productivity trick you need.

GTD Method Psychology

I’m also a big fan of the GTD method by David Allen. The methodology is based on a simple truth: The more information bouncing around inside your head, the harder it is to decide what needs attention.

One tidbit I especially like about GTD is writing out your to-do’s more actionable. Instead of jotting down “Taxes” you expand on the task in a way that makes it seem less daunting, so instead I would write down “e-mail Cynthia my 2021 bank statements.”

This makes it very clear what needs to be done, as opposed to just “Taxes” which is something that you then have to decipher. I imagine that you’ve got a long list of random tasks to decipher at this very moment, which might keep you stuck.

How To Do the GTD Method

The GTD method is made up of five simple practices to systematize the clutter in your brain and get things done:

  1. Capture Everything: Capture anything that crosses your mind. Nothing is too big or small! These items go directly into your inboxes.
  2. Clarify: Process what you’ve captured into clear and concrete action steps. Decide if an item is a project, next action, or reference.
  3. Organize: Put everything into the right place. Add dates to your calendar, delegate projects to other people, file away reference material, and sort your tasks.
  4. Review: Frequently look over, update, and revise your lists.
  5. Engage: Get to work on the important stuff.

If you pair the GTD Method and the Ivy Lee Method together, you’ll discover a personal productivity methodology that redefines how you approach your life and work. Give both a try, you may enjoy the results!

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About the Creator

Candice Galek

Miami based entrepreneur turned environmental non-profit founder. Forbes 30 Under 30 Honoree. Inc. Magazine columnist. Always learning.

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    Candice GalekWritten by Candice Galek

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