By Mandy Green
3 minute read
Once upon a time, in the bustling streets of New York City in 1918, a man named Charles Schwab found himself facing a daunting challenge. He was the president of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, one of the largest and most influential companies of its time. Schwab knew that to maintain and improve their success, he needed something extraordinary.
That’s when he crossed paths with Ivy Lee, a man who would forever change the way his executives managed their time.
Charles Schwab was a visionary leader, but he was feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tasks and decisions he had to make each day. He believed that improving the productivity of his top executives could significantly impact the company’s bottom line. So, he decided to hire Ivy Lee, a renowned efficiency consultant.
Ivy Lee was no ordinary consultant. He was a pioneer in the field of public relations and had a reputation for achieving remarkable results. Schwab wanted Lee to work with his executives and find a way to boost their productivity.
Lee gathered Schwab’s top executives in his office and gave them a simple but powerful lesson in prioritization. He asked each executive to follow these steps:
At the end of each workday, make a list of the six most important tasks you need to accomplish the next day.
Prioritize those tasks in order of importance, with the most crucial task at the top of the list.
The next day, start with the first task and focus on it until it’s completed. Then, move on to the next task, and so on.
If you don’t complete a task, move it to the next day’s list and make it a priority.
The executives were skeptical about this seemingly simple method, but they decided to give it a try. To their amazement, it worked wonders. The clarity provided by a short, prioritized list allowed them to focus on what truly mattered. They were no longer overwhelmed by a long to-do list that left them feeling scattered and unproductive.
Within a few months, Bethlehem Steel Corporation’s executives were achieving more in less time. The company’s productivity soared, and profits followed suit. Charles Schwab was so impressed by Ivy Lee’s method that he sent him a check for $25,000 (equivalent to around $500,000 today) as a token of his gratitude.
So, what does this story mean for you?
Prioritization is the key to productivity. Just as Ivy Lee’s method transformed the executives at Bethlehem Steel Corporation, it can transform your approach to all of the tasks being thrown at you working in higher ed.
By focusing on the most important tasks and eliminating distractions, you can achieve better results in less time.