Prioritize Your Day

You’ve got a lot of things to do today.  Your list might include:

  • Calling a customer back
  • Talking to the bank
  • Responding to urgent emails
  • Attending a meeting
  • Picking up groceries
  • Building a spreadsheet
  • Etc, etc, etc.

And all of those tasks feel equally important.  They’re not.

Back in the day, a business coach named Ivy Lee was hired by Charles Schwab – head of Bethlehem Steel – one of the biggest businesses in America.

Schwab said that he didn’t need his executives to do more things, because they already had too much to do.  What he needed was a tool to help them all focus so that they could be more productive and effective, not more busy.

So Lee gave Schwab, and then his team, this assignment:

  1. Write down everything you have to do tomorrow – make a list
  2. Prioritize the list numerically
  3. Read over the prioritized list at breakfast, and put it in your pocket
  4. Work on number one until it’s done. Don’t skip ahead – get it done
  5. When number one is done, move on to number two. Don’t leave it until it’s done, and so on
  6. Look at the list every hour on the hour

Legend has it that Schwab called this the most important management advice he had ever received.

This lesson is true in your life too.  You don’t need time management skills, you need to manage your priorities better.

So let’s try it today.  Make your list, prioritize it numerically, and start at the top.  I promise you that this simple discipline will dramatically increase your productivity and effectiveness.

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