Every day I run across the “I don’t have time!!” objection to getting things done (sometimes it is me saying it). As you’re working to finish this year strong and planning for 2011, here is a quick excerpt from The Connectors that I always find grounding. Often it is the simple advice that makes the most sense!
Unless public relations is your specialty, the name Ivy Ledbetter Lee probably won’t mean anything. In 1904, Lee and a partner launched a practice in the brand new field of public relations. In fact, Lee is considered by many as the father of modern public relations.
His clients included some of the best-known business titans of the day — John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Charles M. Schwab, for example. In 1903, after serving as president of Carnegie Steel Company and then U.S. Steel Corporation, Schwab took the reins at Bethlehem Steel Corporation, the nation’s then-second largest steel producer. On one occasion, Schwab spoke to Lee, who was serving as a PR consultant to the company, about how his managers might make more effective use of their time.
Almost immediately, Lee scribbled out a simple plan, suggested that Schwab put it into practice for a time, and then pay him for whatever the steel executive thought the advice was worth. The plan proved to be so effective that Schwab sent Lee a check in the amount of $25,000 — the equivalent of perhaps a quarter of a million dollars today.
What sort of a plan was worth that much money? It consisted of four simple steps:
1) Make a list of the most important things you have to do tomorrow
2) Arrange them in the order of their importance (prioritize them)
3) Next day, work on the most important task until it’s completed:
4) Tackle the other tasks in priority order.
Yes, it is ultra simplistic. But do we really need our time management being complex like just about everything else in our lives?