Spend more time playing and less time working with this productivity hack

Are you trying to figure out the next productivity hack? Interested in discovering a way you can improve? Curious how to accelerate how much time you have every day?

I want to share something that I’ve used for many years. This method is the main reason I’m so productive; why can I write more every day, create more content, and ultimately spend time doing the things I love like sailing, flying planes, and scuba diving.

Hi, I’m Peter Nichol, Data Science CIO. Today we’re going to talk about different approaches to improve your productivity. In the 1990s, Charles Schwab was trying to come up with ideas to help his management team. At the time, he was president of Bethlehem Steel out of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, an extensive production facility producing steel for the military and many other operations.

He was trying to figure out that next productivity hack. When brainstorming, he decided to reach his old friend, John D. Rockefeller, Senior, and asked for suggestions. John referred him to a gentleman named Ivy Ledbetter Lee. Lee was known more as a public relations specialist. However, he also had built a reputation as a productivity expert. Charles asked Lee to come to the PA plant and work with his management team. Lee interviewed Schwab’s management team and only spent 15 minutes with each team member. Once Lee was done, he provided each executive with a single tool. Later, Schwab discovered that Lee introduced each team member into what later will be known as the Ivy Lee Method. This is an approach to keep hyper-focused on your top priorities.

The concept was beautifully simple, write down your top six priorities and do them every day. If you only could get six items done each day, what would they be? This latest dovetailed into Tim Ferris’s concept, asking, “What would you do at work if you only had two hours a day.”

Lee suggested each executive work their list top-down (1 through to 6) in order of priority. Completing the most important item first, then the next most important, and so on. Distractions are a reality in any environment. The higher your seniority the more frequent fire drills pop up that are unexpected and critical. If you did not complete your list of six items at the end of the day, those items roll forward onto your list for tomorrow. If you did complete all six things, you would create a new list of six things for the following day. This method keeps the focus on the items that add the most impact to your day.

The method allows leaders to focus on their work’s most critical aspects while spending less time on the least essential elements. We often apply the Pareto 80:20 rule, where 20% of the activities provide 80% of the value. Unfortunately, we often focus on that 80% because these are the low-hanging fruit items. They typically more tactical, and usually, they can be completed independently. As a result, this makes these tasks easy to complete. Yet, they don’t always provide the most value. This is where the Ivy Lee Method comes into play.

If you can apply this method to your daily activities, what you’ll find is you slowly increase productivity. Of course, dramatic transformations don’t occur overnight, but over months and years, it’s unbelievable how much more productive you’ll be. As you think about what you want to accomplish this week that will keep you on track for your quarterly goals, consider using the Ivy Lee Method. Begin with the top six most important items, and if you get those completed, great work on the following six.

Hi, I’m Peter Nichol, Data Science CIO. Have a great week!

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Peter is a technology executive with 19 years of experience, dedicated to driving innovation, digital transformation, leadership, and data in business. He helps organizations connect strategy to execution to maximize company performance. He has been recognized for Digital Innovation by CIO 100, MIT Sloan, Computerworld, and the Project Management Institute. As Managing Director at OROCA Innovations, Peter leads the CXO advisory services practice, driving digital strategies. Peter was honored as an MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award Finalist in 2015 and is a regular contributor to CIO.com on innovation. Peter has led businesses through complex changes, including the adoption of data-first approaches for portfolio management, lean six sigma for operational excellence, departmental transformations, process improvements, maximizing team performance, designing new IT operating models, digitizing platforms, leading large-scale mission-critical technology deployments, product management, agile methodologies, and building high-performance teams. As Chief Information Officer, Peter was responsible for Connecticut’s Health Insurance Exchange’s (HIX) industry-leading digital platform transforming consumerism and retail oriented services for the health insurance industry. Peter championed the Connecticut marketplace digital implementation with a transformational cloud-based SaaS platform and mobile application recognized as a 2014 PMI Project of the Year Award finalist, CIO 100, and awards for best digital services, API, and platform. He also received a lifetime achievement award for leadership and digital transformation, honored as a 2016 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader. Peter is the author of Learning Intelligence: Expand Thinking. Absorb Alternative. Unlock Possibilities (2017), which Marshall Goldsmith, author of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Triggers, calls "a must-read for any leader wanting to compete in the innovation-powered landscape of today." Peter also authored The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare: How Blockchain Will Ignite The Future of Healthcare (2017), the first book to explore the vast opportunities for blockchain to transform the patient experience. Peter has a B.S. in C.I.S from Bentley University and an MBA from Quinnipiac University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He earned his PMP® in 2001 and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Masters in Business Relationship Management (MBRM) and Certified Scrum Master. As a Commercial Rated Aviation Pilot and Master Scuba Diver, Peter understands first hand, how to anticipate change and lead boldly.