If you want to learn how to be productive, the first step is learning how to prioritize tasks. There are a lot of factors that help determine the priority level of your task and they vary from company to company and role to role. However, one thing remains the same: if you do the most important things first then your productivity level will increase. This is because you are completing the items that have the biggest impact on your organization. Whether those tasks are internal processes or external issues shouldn’t matter, what matters is the effect those tasks will have on your business.
Now, you may have doubts. How can we be sure that the prioritized tasks will really increase your productivity and make an impact on your business? Isn’t it better to do multiple things at once or get all the quick stuff out of the way first? That way you’re doing more in less time. Chances are, the reason why those tasks are easy and fast is because they don’t make as big an impact.
But don’t take our word for it. Take Ivy Lee’s.
The Ivy Lee Method
In 1918, Charles M. Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel Corporation and one of the richest men in the world, scheduled a simple meeting with a business consultant by the name of Ivy Lee. This meeting was a “free” consultation. In the meeting, Lee described a simple method of how to get more things done:
- Before leaving work each day, write down only the six most important things you need to get done tomorrow. Make sure that those six items are truly prioritized.
- At work the next day, focus on the first task. Work on it until it is completed, then move onto the next task.
- Whatever you didn’t finish should be at the top of the list for the next day. Repeat this process every day.
This was so effective for Schwab and his executives, Schwab cut Lee a check for $25,000 (roughly $400,000 today) a mere three months after the initial meeting.
Why Does It Work?
How can writing down tasks and focusing on one at a time make such a significant impact? It hardly seems possible that something as simple as creating a list of priorities and sticking to it can be so effective. The truth is, we let a lot of little things and distractions get in our way which will slow down our productivity. So, look at the main reasons why this simple process really works:
- Gets you going faster – Sometimes the hardest thing about going to the gym is…simply, going to the gym. Often, you’ll find that once you’re there it’s much easier to get moving. Some executives will procrastinate for hours just trying to decide where to begin. The sheer number of tasks feels daunting and getting started is hard when you’re not sure where to start. Having those tasks in order that day removes all that pressure.
- Forces you to evaluate tasks and make decisions – By creating a list and assigning importance to each task, it commits you to one task. That one task should be your absolute priority and focus. Nothing else is more important, and once you realize this then you will become less distracted by the smaller interruptions and move on to tasks faster. Imposing these limits on yourself is critical to getting things done.
- Keeps you focused and working – Concentrating on one task, and having your sole attention and mind set to it yields better work. It’s that simple. Although our society loves multitaskers – by the way, neuroscience reiterates that multitasking is a myth – it’s important to focus on one thing at a time so that task will receive your maximum effort and dedication.
In the following blog post, we will discuss the next secret to productivity: the difference between being busy and being productive. Not interested in waiting and want to increase your productivity asap? Call us at 888.378.8808 or contact us here.