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I recently read the book Miracles Happen by Mary Kay Ash. I really enjoyed the book – especially her tips on balancing a home career and family. One story she tells has change the way I structure my day – the story of Mary Kay’s $35,000 list.
According to the story, Ivy Lee, a leading efficiency expert, told Charles Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel, that if Charles gave her just 15 minutes with each of his executives, then she could increase the efficiency of the company. Lee said it wouldn’t cost anything – but if it worked, then Schwab could send a check for whatever he thought was fair. Lee spent fifteen minutes with executives from the steel company. Lee asked the executives to complete one single task.
Every evening for the next three months, each executive was to make a list of the six most important things he had to do the next day. And, the executive was to rank the items in their order of importance.
“Each morning you begin with the first item on the list,” she told them, ” and scratch it off when it’s finished. Just work your way right down those six items. If you don’t get something finished, it goes on the next day’s list. ”
At the end of the three month trial, efficiency and sales head increased to such an extent that Schwab sent lee a check for $35,000. In today’s money, $35,000 would probably be equivalent to $350,000.
I really love this idea. I have done it off and on the past few months – and I have found my productivity goes up! I like that the list includes six items – because it stretches me to find 6 – and then stretches me to complete 6.
If you are struggling with finding a way to become more productive – I would really recommend trying this. Or trying it for your kids! Let me know if you have ever used this philosophy to get things done!