Planning today and tomorrow

Have you ever noticed that you plan more work for tomorrow than you do for today? The reason is simple, you like the idea of doing something more than doing it. I have these planner pads I use and have been doing so for 31 years. With the desk version calendar, you get these little cards you carry in your pocket to organize your day in priority order. It is a great system if you follow it and not so great of you don’t. More times than I can count, I have simply transferred the list over to tomorrow’s card because I tell myself, I will surely get it done then.

The point is that if one day’s list becomes the next day’s list and then the next day’s after that, you may need to sit down and re-focus your priority. I have also had days when I get everything done on that list and it is amazing how much better I feel when I go home.

103 years ago, a Harvard trained management consultant named Ivy lee walked into the chairman of Bethlehem Steel’s office and told him he could help him run his business more efficiently. The chairman said, “young man, I think I know how to run my business.” Ivy said, “I will give you a management idea, you try in and in three months if it has helped you, send me a check for whatever you think the idea was worth.” The Chairman agreed and Ivy took out a blank pocket card and ask the chairman to write down all the things he most wanted to accomplish with his business. The chairman sat back and wrote down a list. Ivy then told the chairman to put a number of importance by each item and agree to stay on that one item until he completed it. Only then could he move to item number two.

Ivy Lee left the office and the chairman tried it and liked it so much, he calls all his management team to his office and gave them all a stack of cards to use for the same purpose. He told them I will come to you without notice and ask to see your cards and that day’s list. Don’t let me catch you without your list.

The idea turned Bethlehem Steel into one of the largest steel producers in the world. Three months later Ivy Lee opened his mail and saw a check for twenty-five thousand dollars ($451,000 in today’s dollars) from Bethlehem Steel Corporation with a note of gratitude from the chairman.

A simple priority list for each day is probably the simplest and most often overlooked management technique in business. Try it because you would be surprised how much more you can get done in a day. KT

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