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The American steel magnate, Charles M. Schwab, was one of the early twentieth century’s top businessmen.
Schwab turned Bethlehem Steel into the world’s second-largest steel manufacturer in its day.
Schwab achieved success at work partly through his relentless focus on efficiency.
But Schwab wanted more.
One day, he contracted consultant Ivy Lee to help his employees and executives become more productive.
He told Lee, “Show me a way to get more things done.”
Lee helped Schwab and his company accomplish more in five simple steps.
1. Write Down Your Top Six Tasks For The Day
Write them on a whiteboard, a simple notepad or in a digital tool. But get them out of your head and down somewhere you can track and tick off.
Depending on your role or company, these tasks might involve anything from calling a customer, preparing the monthly books or fixing an issue with a product.
Examples of my top six tasks include: writing 600 words, publishing an article and sourcing statistics for a presentation.
If it helps, maintain a longer list of tasks for the week and pull six from this longer list before each work day.
2. Prioritize These Six Tasks
Put your most important task first, the next most important second and so on.
You stand a higher chance of completing the task at the top of the list first than at the end of the day. During the day, when life or a mini-crisis at work interrupts (as it inevitably will), your plans won’t fall to ruin.
Prioritization takes time to get right, which is why I like to set my tasks the night before and again the following morning.
If it helps, work like a U.S. president. Consider if tasks are urgent or important.
3. Work On Only The First Task
Schwab and his employees had it easy. In the early twentieth century, there were fewer digital distractions.
Today, working on one task means no email, phone calls or instant messaging. That’s no simple feat for the distracted entrepreneur or executive.
You could disconnect your computer from the internet, block distracting websites with software or simply set a timer.
Attend to these other distractions between tasks.
But give the work at hand your full attention, and you’ll burn through it like a ray of hot light through even the finest steel.
4. Work Through Your List
On a good day, you might complete three or four tasks before lunch and another two to three afterward. Even if you don’t get through everything on your list, there’s always tomorrow.
If you feel blocked or unmotivated, take heart from Schwab who said:
The hardest struggle of all is to be something different from what the average man is. I don’t believe in ‘super-men,’ for the world is full of capable men, but it’s the fellow with determination that wins out.”
Work through your list of tasks with the meticulousness of a bookkeeper. By the time Friday rolls around, you’ll have completed up to 36 high-priority items.
Schwab paid Lee $25,000 three months after his employees implemented this method. In today’s money that’s about $450,000.
Productivity is as much about being methodical and consistent as it is about getting things done.
Prepare your work in advance. Set priorities. And put first things first. Do that, and you’ll accomplish as much as even the most productive steel magnate.
April 2, 2019 at 09:20AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs