Charles M Schwab And Ivy Lee

Nearly a century ago a simple-to-use method came on Charles M Schwab's table.

It turned out to be worth nearly half a million.

The story behind this time management tip?
Read and learn what you can do within 15 minutes to plan and organize your work better in the future and avoid stress!

Charles M. Schwab. 

Probably you have never heard of him, but a century ago everyone in the United States had heard of him

In and around 1918 he was one of the wealthiest people on this planet.

He ran a Steel Production and Shipbuilding Company.
His Bethlehem Steel Production defeated all its competitors

How Charles M Schwab Became The Best In His Field

Charles M Schwab was unusually gifted was in the planning and organization department.

He knew that planning and organizing could mean the difference between being good and being the best.

Between a doing a good job and doing an exceptionally good job

Increasing his efficiency, and that of his employees, always stood at the top of his list.

This made him one of the first time management masters of his day and age. Together with Thomas Edison.

Who praised him for his brilliant work.

Edison even called Charles M Schwab a master hustler.

Schwab is the master in the working expeditiously

He was convinced that there was always more to gain in the field of planning and organizing.

And he was right.

The person who confirmed this notion was Ivy Lee.

Ivy Lee: The Routine Expert
Charles M Schwab

Charles M Schwab

Ivy Lee was a consultant in productivity.

Because even then people could use some tailor-made time management advice.

The meeting between the two of them went something like this:
Schwab: Lee, show me how I can work more efficient can work and get more done.
Lee: Give me 15 minutes with all your managers.
Schwab: What will that cost me?
Lee: Pay me afterward what you think it was worth it.
And so it happened.

What did he tell these managers me in those 15 minutes?

Ivy Lee told the Bethlehem Steel Production managers about his most simple and, at the same time, most effective method.
One that is entirely focused on, you guessed it: planning and organizing.
And one that's quickly explained and can be carried out immediately.

Below I'll summarize the 15-minute method that Lee shared with the managers of Schwab, summarized as follows:

  1. Make a list of the six most important tasks for tomorrow.
  2. Prioritize them in the correct order of importance.
  3. Tomorrow focus first on the most critical task until you finished it
  4. Then proceed to the second job, then on the third, and so on.
  5. At the end of the working day take a look back on your list.
  6. The tasks that you haven't started yet go on the list for tomorrow.


It's that simple, I told you so?
And it is!
But there is still one thing.
An important detail that needs mentioning.

The planning and organizing.

It may very well be possible that you can not finish all six tasks in 1 day because one of them will cost you several few hours.
It is also possible that you get through your 6 most important tasks before lunch.
Be that as it may, do plan those 6 main tasks!

Planning And Organizing Like A Pro (Lee) in 3 Steps

That part of planning and organizing is such an important detail because it is so important to get an overview of what you should do.
That is why you need to take the following steps 3, that form the basis of Ivy Lee's method.

You should do this as follows:

  • Grab your task list.
  • Scan all items.
  • Choose the 6 most important ones: which tasks will help you make strides forward and give you the most satisfaction.
  • Make an estimate guess how long tasks each task will take.
  • Plan that time in your agenda.

That can mean planning almost an entire day for 1 task (make a customer presentation, this may sound simple, but could cost you the best part of the day or 1 hour for all six tasks (phone calls, e-mails, simple stuff).

When you are  planning, and organization pay particular attention to the estimated time needed to finish each task

Keep a critical eye and be realistic.

A customer presentation, for example.
That means when you look at this item you have to consider several steps:

  • Research the customer: 30 minutes
  • Design slides: 20 minutes
  • Make a Powerpoint presentation: 60 minutes
  • Practice presentation: 20 minutes

That's: 30 + 20 + 60 + 20 minutes = more than 2 hours for this one task alone

That's OK!

No problem, at all.
But be aware and plan accordingly.

If you made a mistake thinking this task can all be done in an hour you will work yourself into stress.
But, however long it may take, finish it before you do anything else. At the end of that at least you will have completed your most important tasks of the day.

The rest is of secondary importance.
Yes, even the so-called urgent requests from your colleagues.
And I know, that can sometimes be difficult in today's office environment


You can plan all you want your calendar, but unexpected things happen.
They will, eventually.

A colleague asks you something that needs an urgent response, a customer calls with an urgent matter, your manager plans an unannounced meeting in the midst of your planning (it happens).
Try to defend your talk time as well as possible.
Build your agenda and your desk into a fortress.
For example, put on a headset to show that you are focused on essential tasks.

When stuff nevertheless happens, take in in stride
What matters is that you, in any case, focus is on the 6-task list you created for yourself.

When a colleague taps you on your shoulder with an ad hoc request, then tell him or her:
I'm busy with a few other critical tasks that I really should finish first, so I'll have to come back to you at X hours.
Then your job stays your priority!

So keep the focus on what is important today: Lee's list.

Because that is what worth a fortune.
For Schwab and his company using the list paid off enormously.
The productivity of Schwab and his company increased.
So much so, that a Schwab wrote lee a $25.000 cheque!
That is about worth as much as $400,000 today.
That is what Schwab though Lee's advice was worth.
Nearly half a million dollars, for a method that is so dead easy.
One that is Lee explained to him in a quarter of an hour.
For Charles M Schwab And Ivy Lee the importance of time management was absolutely clear.

Charles M Schwab And Ivy Lee

How can a method that is that simple be as effective and also so valuable?

Using the 15-minute planning and organizing task list is simple enough to become a hard habit, you can stick with.
It brings the focus back to your core activities that will make you work worthwhile

It ensures that you can perform specific tasks and check them off your list.
This leads to a better quality of work and higher job satisfaction.

The same focus also prevents that you are easily distracted by less essential chores; either by colleagues or by other ad hoc tasks that always keep coming at you.

It makes it easier to start with a task, even if it is a difficult one that you usually would rather postpone.

The planning and organizing method forces you to single tasking (1 task at the same time, then the next task) instead of multi-tasking.

Multitasking isn't smart anyway!

You can do the most important things in the morning, which for many is the ideal thinking time for planning and organizing.
If you want to work stress-free according to Lee, you will learn to plan and organize.
You can manage this in 15 minutes.
Simply by making this a daily habit for which you set aside time daily.

What you can do in those 15 minutes:

  • Grab your calendar and your to-do list.
  • Determine the 6 most important tasks.
  • Plan them in order of priority for tomorrow, and plan a quarter of an hour at the end of the day to revise and re-draft for the day after tomorrow.

As long as you are working on those tasks in your planning your time is sacred.
Colleagues with ad hoc requests you put on a side burner until they are complete.
Repeat these steps you from now on, and keep repeating them
Every day.

Until Lee's planning and organizing method (after 66 days, probably) become your second nature.

The most important thing is that you plan those 6 tasks (be realistic!)  and consider the time you set aside for these tasks sacred.

Only then you will keep stress from your door.

What Lee's method does is destress by creating an overview, prioritizing, planning and organizing.
So you can also go home satisfied at the end of your working day!

You get this advice for free. 

Isn't that a far better deal than that Charles M Schwab's $400,000.
And even with that amount, the method of Ivy Lee was worth every dollar!

An absolute bargain!