The £20,000 Daily Productivity Routine

Notebook Productivity by Ivy Lee

The 100 year old notebook productivity method by Ivy Lee


Today many of us struggle with effectively managing our time and remaining productive whilst people are effectively trying to steal our precious time away from us. The private healthcare telesales rep, a colleague that needs instructions, another email promotion, the list goes on. Many of us start the day with every intention not to get distracted, have a productive day achieving things that will turn the wheel another step closer to achieving our goals. As 5pm comes around we find ourselves disappointed with our accomplishments. 

Over 100 years ago, in 1918 a gentleman named Charles M.Schwab had become an extremely successful businessman in the United States of America. Charles became a steel magnate after purchasing Bethlehem Steel before leading the company on to become the second largest steel maker in the country. Thomas Edison referred to Schwab as the “master hustler” he was constantly seeking an edge over the competition and was a renowned businessman who became one of the richest people in the world with an estimated net worth of $500 million which would equate to around $8 billion in 2020! 

Charles was constantly looking for ways to improve his company’s performance, looking at ways to work smarter. One of the things he felt was important was to look at better ways of getting things done. In his quest for improvement Charles arranged a meeting with a man named Ivy Lee. Ivy Lee was a specialist in public relations and was a highly respected consultant to many large corporations around the world. 

In their first meeting Charles turned to Lee and said, “I want you to show me how to get more work done.” 

“Ok, I can do that. I just need to spend some time with your senior management team,” Lee replied. 

“Great, how much will it cost me,” Schwab asked. 

“Nothing,” said Lee. “Unless you feel it works. Let’s give it three months, and then you can send me a cheque for what you feel my advice has been worth to you and your business.” 


The Ivy Lee Productivity Method

And so the deal had been agreed. The next day Ivy Lee went around and spent just 15 minutes with each of Charles Schwab’s senior management team. Lee used the time to explain his simple daily method for achieving peak productivity and getting more done. 

Just follow these five simple steps:


  1. At the end of your working day, take your notebook, write down the six most important things that you need to complete tomorrow. You must not write down anymore than six tasks. 
  2. Prioritise those six tasks in order of their importance. Task number one written in your notepad must be truly the most important task that you absolutely must complete tomorrow in order to push you further towards your goals. 
  3. Now tomorrow, when you arrive and open your daily list, you must first only concentrate on the first task. You must finish the first task before you can even think about moving onto the second task. 
  4. Now you simply work through your list of six tasks in the same way. When you come to end of the working day, just before you leave for the day simply review your list. Any task that you did not manage to complete today should simply be moved over to a new list of six tasks in your pad for the following day. 
  5. The final step is to ensure that you repeat this process every working day. 

Many of them must have thought, this is so simple! Nevertheless Schwab and his management team at Bethlehem Steel implemented Lee’s daily list of six system. 

Three months passed and Ivy Lee received a cheque through the post for $25,000 from Charles M.Schwab. Charles was so impressed with Lee’s process and how it had improved the output of his company he felt that Lee’s advice was worth $25,000 dollars to him. To give you an idea $25,000 back in 1918 is the equivalent of around $400,000 today. Charles actually said it was the most profitable business advice he had ever received. 

So how was such a seemingly simple productivity method worth so much to Schwab? 

By planning your day the night before you will wake up knowing exactly what you should be doing. You will no longer have to waste valuable time and energy in the morning deciding a plan for the day ahead therefore reducing your decision fatigue in the morning freeing up more brain energy to deploy into your meaningful work. 

To put it simply, do the most important thing first each day and limit yourself on the number of important things to prioritise on any given day. 

Take a clean page inside your notebook with a bulleted list from one to six, ordering tomorrows to do list in order of importance and impact

If you are looking to produce a notebook branded with your company logo to distribute to your employees when implementing the Ivy Lee productivity method into your business then our range of corporate branded notebooks and personalised pens are the perfect tools.