You’ve probably heard this story before, but I think it’s worth my re-telling it.
Back in the early 1900’s, Charles Schwab was the head of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. Consultant Ivy Lee offered to increase the productivity of Schwab’s people, and he would let Schwab decide what the results were worth. Schwab agreed.
Lee taught each executive to sit down at the end of each day, and create a list. The list must contain only the six most important things to be completed the next day. Each morning, they should start the day by working on the first item on that list, and not move on until it is completed.
After a few months of seeing results, Schwab sent a check to Lee for $25,000. That’s about $500,000 in today’s dollars.
- Not thirty-six things. Not urgent things. The Six Most Important Things.
- Each “thing” is not an entire project, but is a do-able task.
- At the end of the day. Not in the frantic scramble at the beginning of the day .
- Daily. Every day. Every day.
The Mary Kay organization believes in this enough that they make space for it at the top of their consultant date books.
It’s a good habit to develop, and one I want to redevelop. I think I’ll go add it to my Joe’s Goals list.
This article is part of the Small Biz 100, a series of 100 practical hands-on posts for small business people and solo entrepreneurs, whether in a small town, the big city, or in between. If you have questions you’d like us to address in this series, leave a comment or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the whole series by subscribing to Small Biz Survival.
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