What is the Ivy Lee Method

Imagine a productivity hack so simple, yet so powerful that it has stood the test of time. Meet the Ivy Lee Method, a brainchild of the legendary productivity guru, Ivy Lee. It’s like having a personal assistant to organize your tasks and help you focus on what really matters.

The Ivy Lee Method is a straightforward, no-nonsense approach to boosting your productivity and achieving your goals.

  1. Picture this: at the end of each day, you jot down the six most important tasks you need to tackle the next day. No more, no less, just six!
  2. Then, you arrange these tasks in order of priority.
  3. And when tomorrow rolls around, you start working on the first task, giving it your full attention, and not moving on until it’s complete.

It’s like a magical conveyor belt, guiding you from one task to the next with laser-like focus.

  1. Once you’ve completed all six tasks, you’re done for the day. No need to cram in extra work or worry about what’s next.
  2. And if by chance, you don’t finish all six tasks? No sweat! Just move the unfinished tasks to the top of the list for the next day, and continue with the same process.

So, what’s the secret sauce behind the Ivy Lee Method? It’s all about breaking the cycle of overwhelm and indecision. By identifying your top priorities and focusing on one task at a time, you’re able to tackle each challenge with clarity and purpose.

What are the Benefits of Ivy Lee Method?


The beauty of the Ivy Lee Method lies in its simplicity. No complicated systems, no overwhelming tools – just a straightforward list of six tasks. It’s like having a friendly guide to help you navigate the labyrinth of your to-do list.

Banish decision fatigue

With your priorities laid out in black and white, you can say goodbye to the exhausting mental tug-of-war that comes with deciding what to do next. The Ivy Lee Method streamlines your decision-making, giving your brain some much-needed rest.

Boost focus and productivity

By tackling one task at a time, you’re able to channel all your energy into that single goal. It’s like putting on blinders, blocking out distractions and getting the job done with laser-like focus. Productivity levels, prepare to soar!

Build momentum

As you complete each task, you’ll experience a sense of accomplishment, fueling your motivation to keep going. It’s like a snowball effect – the more tasks you finish, the more unstoppable you become!

Reduce stress and anxiety

The Ivy Lee Method’s structured approach can work wonders in calming the chaos of everyday life. With a clear plan in place, you can shed the stress and anxiety of wondering what to do next or fearing you’ll forget something important.

Enhance work-life balance

Since you’re only tackling six tasks a day, the Ivy Lee Method helps you establish boundaries between work and personal life. Once you’ve conquered your to-do list, you can confidently switch off and recharge, knowing you’ve given your all to what truly matters.

Disadvantages of Ivy Lee Method of Productivity

While the Ivy Lee Method undeniably presents a multitude of advantages, it’s crucial to recognize its constraints too. Delve into a few of the shortcomings linked with this approach:


The Ivy Lee Method’s insistence on a stringent, daily roster of six tasks might not be everyone’s cup of tea. For some, the method could feel confining, curbing the ability to adapt and be flexible throughout the day.

Struggling with urgent tasks

Life can throw curveballs, demanding immediate attention. In such instances, the Ivy Lee Method’s unbending structure may impede your capacity to tackle these pressing tasks swiftly.

Incompatibility with multitasking

If your professional or personal life calls for managing multiple tasks concurrently, the Ivy Lee Method’s single-tasking focus may not suit your needs.


For those juggling intricate or varied duties, the Ivy Lee Method’s straightforwardness might result in an overly simplistic depiction of daily tasks. This could lead to underestimating the necessary time and effort for each task.

Narrow scope

With a mere six tasks on the list, the Ivy Lee Method may fail to cover all your day-to-day obligations. Consequently, you might feel unfulfilled or discontent, as specific tasks remain unattended.

Prioritization challenges

Identifying and ranking the top six tasks can be an arduous task for some, complicating the creation of an efficient list.

Regardless of these pitfalls, the Ivy Lee Method remains a valuable productivity instrument for many. As with any technique, it’s vital to weigh your distinct needs and circumstances, tailoring the approach to fit your lifestyle optimally. Sampling diverse productivity methods can aid in discovering the most fitting one for your personal and professional aspirations.

The Ivy Lee Method Alternatives

If the Ivy Lee Method doesn’t seem like the right fit for you, there are several other productivity techniques and strategies you can consider. Some popular alternatives include:

The Pomodoro Technique

This time management method involves breaking your work into short, focused intervals (usually 25 minutes) called “Pomodoros,” followed by a short break. After completing four Pomodoros, take a longer break. This approach helps maintain focus, prevent burnout, and manage distractions.

Getting Things Done (GTD)

Developed by productivity consultant David Allen, GTD is a comprehensive system for managing tasks, projects, and commitments. It involves capturing all tasks in a “trusted system”, clarifying and organizing them, and regularly reviewing progress. GTD helps you stay organized and make informed decisions about your priorities. “Trusted system” is a central place. This can be a physical inbox, a digital app, or a combination of both. The goal is to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks and to create a “trusted system” where you can store everything that requires your attention.

Time Blocking

This method involves dividing your day into blocks of time dedicated to specific tasks or types of work. By assigning a specific time for each task, you can minimize distractions, maintain focus, and manage your time more effectively.

Eat That Frog

Based on a book by Brian Tracy, this method encourages you to tackle the most critical and challenging task first thing in the morning (“eating the frog”). By completing the most daunting task first, you can build momentum and motivation for the rest of the day.

The 1-3-5 Rule

This technique involves identifying one major task, three medium tasks, and five smaller tasks to complete each day. This approach helps you prioritize and balance your workload while ensuring a mix of different types of tasks.


A visual project management system, Kanban uses a board with columns representing different stages of a task (e.g., to-do, in progress, completed). Tasks are represented as cards that move through the columns as they progress. This method provides a clear, visual representation of your work and helps you manage tasks more efficiently.

These are just a few of the many productivity methods available. It’s essential to try different techniques and adapt them to your specific needs and preferences to find the most effective approach for managing your time and tasks.

Ivy Lee Method Examples

You’re eager to implement the Ivy Lee Method in your daily life, but you’re not quite sure how it looks in practice. Here are some examples to help you visualize how the Ivy Lee Method can work its magic in different situations:

Example 1: A busy entrepreneur

  1. Meet with a potential investor
  2. Review and finalize the marketing plan
  3. Conduct a team meeting to discuss product updates
  4. Respond to important client emails
  5. Analyze financial reports
  6. Research new market opportunities

Example 2: A student preparing for exams

  1. Review notes and summarize key concepts for History
  2. Complete math homework and practice problems
  3. Study vocabulary and grammar for the Spanish test
  4. Write an outline for the upcoming English essay
  5. Prepare a study group agenda for the Chemistry exam
  6. Create flashcards for Biology terminology

Example 3: A stay-at-home parent managing household tasks

  1. Meal plan and create a grocery shopping list
  2. Schedule and attend children’s doctor appointments
  3. Organize and declutter the living room
  4. Assist children with homework and school projects
  5. Prepare dinner and pack lunches for the next day
  6. Research and plan a family weekend outing

Example 4: A freelancer juggling multiple projects

  1. Draft and send project proposal to a new client
  2. Complete and submit design revisions for Client A
  3. Edit and proofread an article for Client B
  4. Update portfolio and personal website
  5. Research industry trends and brainstorm new project ideas
  6. Send follow-up emails to potential clients

In each of these examples, the Ivy Lee Method helps individuals prioritize their tasks, maintain focus, and steadily progress towards their goals. With this powerful technique at your disposal, you’re well-equipped to conquer whatever challenges come your way.

Why is the Ivy Lee Method Important?

This timeless productivity hack has been winning hearts and minds for over a century, and for good reason. Let’s delve into the reasons that make the Ivy Lee Method so essential:

Clarity in priorities

With the Ivy Lee Method, you identify the top six tasks you need to accomplish each day, bringing clarity to your priorities. This laser-focused approach helps you stay aligned with your goals and make consistent progress.

Enhanced productivity

By tackling one task at a time and devoting your full attention to it, you’re more likely to complete it efficiently and effectively. The Ivy Lee Method encourages you to work smarter, not harder, boosting your productivity in the process.

Time management

By limiting your daily to-do list to six tasks, the Ivy Lee Method encourages you to make conscious decisions about how you allocate your time. This promotes better time management and ensures that you’re investing your energy in what truly matters.

Reduced overwhelm

A never-ending list of tasks can be paralyzing, leading to procrastination and overwhelm. The Ivy Lee Method’s simplicity helps you break down your workload into manageable chunks, making it easier to tackle each task and reducing feelings of overwhelm.

Consistency and habit-building

The Ivy Lee Method encourages you to evaluate and plan your tasks daily, reinforcing the habit of prioritizing and organizing. Over time, this consistency fosters discipline and helps you develop stronger time management and productivity habits.


The beauty of the Ivy Lee Method is that it can be adapted to any situation or profession. Whether you’re a student, an entrepreneur, a busy parent, or a freelancer, the Ivy Lee Method is a valuable tool for enhancing your productivity and achieving your goals.

In a world brimming with distractions and competing priorities, the Ivy Lee Method is a beacon of simplicity and focus. Its importance lies in its ability to bring structure and efficiency to our daily lives, empowering us to become better versions of ourselves, one task at a time.

A Personal Journey: Taming Procrastination with the Ivy Lee Method

I’ve been battling procrastination my entire life, and after four years of therapy, I recently noticed a significant decrease in this habit. It wasn’t me who observed this, but rather my therapist, and we discussed it together. It appears there are two main factors contributing to this change. The first one is the Ivy Lee method, which is the only to-do list approach that works for me. The problem is that I constantly shift from one task to another as soon as I lose interest, making it difficult for me to concentrate on what’s crucial. I purchased an Ivy Lee notepad, which is essentially a straightforward setup – 7 pages for 6 daily tasks and notes. Every set of 7 pages includes a designated space for a brain dump. I jot down anything that comes to mind, delegating it to the notepad so I don’t have to think about it during the day.

I don’t categorize the 6 tasks based on importance or priority; instead, I simply sit down in the morning and write down what I need to accomplish that day. If I run out of ideas and still haven’t listed 6 tasks, I refer to the brain dump page. A crucial aspect of this ritual is allowing myself not to complete everything or alter plans throughout the day. The main focus here is delegation to the notepad.

I recently mentioned that I tend to procrastinate in two situations – when I’m bored and when things are challenging. Another related scenario is when it’s unclear where to begin. Interestingly, when you don’t procrastinate, you expend less energy on feelings of guilt, leaving ample time for exercise and leisurely strolls. In fact, I recently went for a bike ride.