Double Your Productivity in 15 Minutes Your Productivity in 15 Minutes

guest blog by Dan Forbes, Founder of the Lead With Giants™ Community

In the early 1900s Charles Schwab was president of Bethlehem Steel, a small, struggling company. He was looking for ways to increase productivity and profits.

In walked Ivy Lee.  He was a business consultant and promised Schwab that in just fifteen minutes he could share a secret with the company’s managers that would double productivity.

The skeptical Schwab asked Lee what he was selling and at what price? Lee told him to just try it for six months and then, “You can pay me what you think it’s worth.”

Here’s the secret Lee shared with the managers:

Every night, at the end of each day, write down the six most important things that need to get done the next day. Write only six, no more. Prioritize them, with number one being the most important. In the morning, start with number one and do only number one until it is completed. Do not go on to number two until number one is completed.  When number one is completed go on to number two, then do only number two until it is completed. And so on.  If you get done with all of them you can start a new list.

In only a few months Lee received a check for $25,000 ($250,000 in today’s dollars) and a thank you note from Schwab saying it was the most profitable lesson he had ever learned. Of course, Bethlehem Steel went on to become one of the most successful corporations in history.

The question is, could you employ this strategy to double your own productivity?

Yes, I think you can employ this same strategy in your own life. Really, this idea is very close to Covey’s admonition,

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” – Stephen R. Covey  

Heres how you can apply this lesson to your own life:

  1. Determine what is MOST important to your in life.What excites you? What makes you want to get out of bed everyday? The answer to these questions is your MAIN THING.
  2. Every single day, focus on things that move you toward your MAIN THING. Make a list of 3-6 things that will help you accomplish your vision. Prioritize them and focus on them before anything else.
  3. Remove the distractions and interruptions that pull you away from your MAIN THING. These may be things or people. Eliminate the things that sap your energy and attention.
  4. Surround yourself with people who help you grow and improve. Hang out with people who inspire you to be your best self. Gather around you the kind of people who love and support you and your efforts.

Maybe you are already doing these things.  If so, congratulations. If not, why not give it a try.

The good news is that you don’t even have to send me a check!

What other ways do you suggest we can keep the main thing the main thing?


Dan Forbes is a Professional Coach who helps executives and professionals accelerate their success. He is the Founder of the Lead With Giants™ Community. You can connect and engage with Dan through and

Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek are leadership practitioners, teachers, trainers, and award-winning authors. They are co-authors of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, a winner of the International Book Awards, and called “the best book on leadership since Good to Great.” Take their Leadership Derailers Assessment or sign up for their newsletter. If you found value in this, please forward it to a friend. Every little bit helps! Your Productivity in 15 Minutes

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