I Tried The Ivy Lee Method For A Week. Here’s What Happened.

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Hey there, hero!

I’ve done videos in this series about organization and productivity, and there are always new methods to try on for size.

What about an old method?

A method for getting stuff done that’s over a century old?

Here’s what happened when I tried one on for size.

UPDATE: I now use a stack of index cards instead of the Levenger planner. Same process (get the top three items done first), cheaper supplies, smaller footprint on my desk.

Hope this helps!



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  1. You are so right about crossing things off the list David! It is also important to put things in order like you say. If you want to take it one step further you can even plot out the time to start each item and how much time you plan on devoting to it. I find it helps keeping me on track to get it all done and not spend too much deciding when to move on to the next item instead going down the rabbit hole. Hope that helps someone.

  2. In my present full-time occupation (sysadmin for several asset-management tools at D&B), the daily objectives are so reactive and fluid that even this level of planning is difficult to achieve. But this system looks simple enough that it’s worth a try. I certainly do like the idea of crossing out and throwing away pieces of paper! ?

  3. This is a great idea. I need some way to focus myself on tasks rather than planning and hoping. I’m thinking of a couple methods and I may put this one into practice. Thanks for the video David.

  4. Good one, David!
    I’m definitely a “list person”.
    When I’ve made to-do notes in my phone, they’re forgotten for the simple reason, my tablet is there within my view. I don’t have to hunt for it. It’s right next to my computer, without a single click.
    Yes! writing it down stops the nagging thoughts like, “I gotta remember to…” Crossing off is great satisfaction! Done! Next!

    Sometimes I do long range lists, too, to keep myself from being concerned solely with day-to-day minutia. They end up in a notebook, later to be found. Then I get to remark on where my head was then vs. now and deem what’s is important or not important anymore.

    I also like notebooks that have one long term project in them. There’s nothing in them except for info pertaining to inching that one idea along. (buy a house, dating strategies, workout/diet–YOU name it!)
    Some of the notebooks I’ve retained for years and pour back over from time to time, are from my years in yoga teacher training. For me, they are as priceless as perhaps someone else’s wedding photo album would be. Going back over any of my notebooks is like a class-reunion you throw just for yourself, because who cares if the captain of the football team is an insurance salesman built like a refrigerator? What I personally care about, is not comparing myself with others, but where I am in my life compared to my aspirations at some former point in my life….and the starting line is a list!

  5. Remember the Franklin Planner? I have been using their tools and process for20+ years. They took the Ivy lee thing to proven process a long time ago.

  6. I’ve been retired for over ten years now, and I seem to have forgotten how to organize “me” since I no longer have a “structure” to my day. It’s very easy to tell myself “It will be there tomorrow.” I’m going to give this a try to dig out of my now-huge “there tomorrows”. Thank you, David!

  7. David,

    I do something like this. I use a small dry erase board writing down the things that should get done for the day. As I do them, I erase them! I can add them easily when there is time to do more.

    I see your point about crossing them off when completed. It is a rush. Also when you write them down and then cross them off (without using post its) you can see what you have accomplished.