The Cure for the Never-Ending To-Do List

The Cure for the Never-Ending To-Do List: the Ivy Lee method is 100 Years Old and Fresh as Ever!

It’s 100 Years Old and Fresh as Ever

It’s no secret that I’m a list-maker.  I love powering through a to-do list – checking off and crossing out give me such a sense of satisfaction.

Until… the list gets to be a mile long. Or something unexpected happens, and I have to drop everything. I feel overwhelmed and discouraged, and I let my list languish for days.

Of course, it’s not the end of the world to wing it for a little while. But when there are time-sensitive items on the list, from paying bills to making “Happy birthday!” calls, I’m kicking myself when I miss them.

Enter Ivy Lee

That said, I was intrigued when I heard about “the Ivy Lee method,” as described by James Clear.

Here’s the story: Charles M. Schwab, the president of industrial behemoth Bethlehem Steel, invited Ivy Lee to his office one day in 1918. Schwab asked Lee to help boost his executive team’s productivity; Lee said he could do it in 15 minutes. When Schwab asked Lee what he would charge for his services, Lee reportedly delivered this badass response:

“Nothing. Unless it works. After three months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel it’s worth to you.”

One Simple Method

The Ivy Lee method has 5 steps, as reported by James Clear:

  1. At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
  4. Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  5. Repeat this process every working day.

Charles Schwab was reportedly so delighted with the results of this method, he wrote Ivy Lee a check for $25,000. To give you some perspective, that would be something like $400,000 today!

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Serious Results

When I read about this method for making a to-do-list, my first reaction was that it was totally obvious. Isn’t that what I was doing already?

Then I decided to really give it a try, to the letter.

Much to my surprise, using the Ivy Lee method totally changed my day. I realized that I would sometimes start on a less-important project first thing in the morning, as a kind of warm-up. But a lot of the time, I’d go from that low-priority project to my Twitter feed, then get a phone call… and before I knew it, it was lunchtime and I hadn’t done a thing toward my most important project for the day!

Really and truly focusing on first things first was a game-changer for me. I find that I’m much better at getting my top-priority tasks done, even when life throws me a curveball.

And even more important, at the end of the day, I can stop. Instead of trying to cram in just one more thing before bedtime, I can let it go and enjoy some free time, knowing that I’ve taken care of my most important obligations.

The verdict? Two thumbs up for the Ivy Lee method!

Have you tried the Ivy Lee method? Would you? Let me know in the comments!

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#MotivationMonday: Whatever you are, be a good one.

Whatever you are, be a good one. - Abraham Lincoln

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Whatever you are, be a good one.

– Abraham Lincoln

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Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.
Don’t be the best, be the only.
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Top 5 Statement Necklaces for Spring

Top 5 Statement Necklaces for Spring Chic and Easy!Chic and Easy!

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You already know that a great statement necklace is one of my four secrets to getting dressed with style in a flash. If you want to raise your game for spring, here are my top five favorites this season!

5. The Sutton

I love this necklace with a crisp buttondown! It adds a touch of (work-appropriate) edge to an otherwise classic, seasonless outfit.

And best of all, it’s a versatile piece that can be worn 5 different ways! You could wear it to work every day for a week and never repeat the same look twice. Talk about bang for your buck!

Five Ways to Wear the Sutton

4. The Devina – ON SALE!

Stella and Dot Devina necklace, was $79, now on sale for $31.60

Stella and Dot Devina necklace, was $79, now on sale for $31.60This one was featured in People en Español  in November, but those colors make me think spring! As an added bonus, it’s on sale for less than half its original price! You’ll have to snag this one quick, before it’s gone…

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3. The Cleopatra

Another versatile pick – this necklace can be worn short or long! I love the cool colors in this amazonite beaded beauty. It would go great with gray now while the weather is chilly, and then add a hint of beachy chic to bright white when the temperatures rise!

 

2. The Colette – ON SALE!

This eye-catching piece channels French-girl cool with semi-precious Labradorite and leather-wrapped beads. I’d wear it like a suit of armor to a big meeting with my boss! It’s another smart buy – you can get it for 50% off when you spend $50 at Stella and Dot by February 28th.

1. The Collage

I saved the best for last! This is my absolute favorite necklace this season. It’s got the freshness of a spring garden, while still being grown-up enough for the office.


Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

*Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of my affiliate links and make a purchase, I may receive a commission for referring you. This comes at no extra cost to you. I’m grateful for your support!

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#MotivationMonday: Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. - Dalai Lama

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Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.

– Dalai Lama

There's more where that came from! Related posts on Brainy Business Babe

#MotivationMonday: Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. – MLK

#MotivationMonday: In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer

#MotivationMonday: Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.

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Would You Lie to Get Your Dream Job?

Would You Lie to Get Your Dream Job? All’s Fair in Love and War… and Job-Hunting?

All’s Fair in Love and War… and Job-Hunting?

A story popped up on my LinkedIn feed about a guy who impersonated a Postmates food delivery person to get his resume in front of executives at a bunch of tech firms in San Francisco. The article had lots of positive comments: “Good for him! He’s got guts! He sure knows about marketing!” Even the CEO of Postmates tweeted his approval.

As for me, I read that story and cringed. Part of it has to do with my background in commercial real estate in Washington, DC – where my colleagues faced security issues like computer thefts, aggressive protesters, and, once, an obviously unhinged shooter on a building rooftop. The idea of someone sneaking into an office building with hidden intentions could be a recipe for disaster.

Security concerns aside, something about this job-seeker’s story still gives me the heebie-jeebies. Here it is: he had to lie to get his resume in front of these tech honchos. Is that okay? Is that what a job search is supposed to be about?

The Point of No Return

General opinion seems to be that what the donut-toting job-hunter did falls into the “little white lie” category. And goodness knows, we are all guilty of fibbing from time to time. So I’ll refrain from passing judgment there.

But it brings up some interesting questions:

Do we expect people to be perfectly honest during the job-hunting process?

What about once we hire them?

No Lying Allowed

In general, lying is considered a no-no in the job application process. Google “fired for falsifying resume” and you’ll find scads of stories about executives, such as Yahoo’s former CEO Scott Thompson, and other high-ranking people who got the boot for fibbing on their CVs.

Or is it?

Recruiting is intended to be a fact-finding process, for both the hiring company and the potential employee. But it’s also a negotiation, in which each side may use confusion or misdirection to push the other side closer to the desired outcome. Turning again to our trusty Google, you’ll find even more stories about “salary negotiation tricks” than about disgraced resume-padding CEOs. Tips like, “Don’t reveal how much salary you’ll accept!” and “Use psychological tricks to make the employer feel like they’re winning!”

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View from the Top

Here’s the thing: I’m all for rewarding people for good ideas. But, as a hiring manager, I have to consider the message I’m sending. If I look the other way on donut shenanigans, am I implying that I’ll also tolerate unethical behavior once the candidate is hired?

This article from the Harvard Business Review says the answer is yes. It identifies five factors that lead to horrifying corporate scandals (like the Wells Fargo bogus account debacle), including failure by the leadership team to insist on ethical behavior.

You can call me a party pooper. But if I busted a candidate lying, I’d pass on hiring him or her. I can’t afford to have my team believing it’s okay with me if they behave unethically.

So… what actually happened to the Postmates impostor? As of early February 2017, his LinkedIn and Twitter profiles say he’s still looking for a job in marketing…

What do you think – would you try the Postmates trick? Would you want to hire someone who did?

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Enter your email below, and you’ll be able to download my daily intention-setting tool instantly for free! You’ll also get my weekly mood-boosting email, which I hope will bring a smile to your Monday morning. (Don’t worry, you can unsubscribe anytime if it’s not your thing.)


#MotivationMonday: Don’t be the best, be the only.

“Don’t be the best, be the only." - Andrew Zimmern, chef and host of Bizarre Foods

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“Don’t be the best, be the only.”

– Andrew Zimmern, chef and host of Bizarre Foods

I found this quote in Fast Company’s Secrets of the Most Productive People 2016. You can find all the scoop here: Top Five Resolution Resources: Get Productive!

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#MotivationMonday: Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. – MLK

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#MotivationMonday: Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.

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Brainy Business Book Review: Mastery by Robert Greene

Brainy Business Book Review: Mastery by Robert Greene. A Top 25 Must-Read!

A Top 25 Must-Read

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I’m beyond excited to share today’s post with you for 2 reasons. For one thing, it’s my very first guest post. And even more importantly, it was written by my very own Brainy Business Dad, Mr. Don Fletcher!

My dad is a real career advice guru: he’s read about 500 business books just in the last 15 years. (How did he find the time?? We’ll talk about that in a future post.) He’s famous for it around his office – one year, one of his colleagues dressed up as him for Halloween by wearing a lavender shirt (his signature color) and carrying around a stack of books!

With all those book under his belt, he really knows the good from the bad from the just plain boring. And today he’s giving us a recap of a book that he rates in the top 25 business books of all time. That means it’s better than 95% of the books he’s read!

Read on for a quick guide to the most important lessons from Mastery. Take it away, Dad!

The Brainy Business Book: Mastery by Robert Greene

Mastery, a #1 New York Times best-seller, is an excellent book that provides practical insights for people to discover their purpose and achieve their full natural creative potential.

What is mastery? Greene describes it as “the feeling that we have a greater command of reality, other people and ourselves.” By analyzing numerous examples of successful people, he has identified a three-step process to allow anyone to reach mastery.

Here are the top 4 insights from the book:

Insight #1: Mastery Lies in YOUR Hands

Greene persuasively argues that mastery is primarily determined by one’s actions.   He says that “mastery is not a function of genius or talent. It is a function of time and intense focus applied to a particular field of knowledge.”

“mastery is not a function of genius or talent. It is a function of time and intense focus applied to a particular field of knowledge.” - Robert Greene

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He cites as an example the Wright brothers’ stunning accomplishment of flight. In the race to become the first to create the first flying machine, they were given little chance. The favorite, Samuel Langley, was secretary to the Smithsonian Institution. He had an enormous government grant and big head start.

The brothers, owners of a bicycle shop, had no formal engineering education. They made history with an innovative, lighter-weight design based on principles learned through hours of working with bikes in their shop.

Insight #2: Anyone Can Achieve Mastery

The great news, according to Greene, is that anyone can achieve mastery. He claims that the simple process that leads to mastery is “accessible to all of us.”

For example, Temple Grandin, named by Time magazine in 2010 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, was born with autism. With the help of family and teachers, Temple was able to manage her speech and sensory difficulties. She went on to pursue her academic interest in animal science, eventually becoming a college professor and a highly-sought consultant for farms and zoos.

Insight #3: The 3-Step Path to Mastery

Greene identifies a 3-step process for achieving mastery. His process is based upon the model used by medieval craftspeople to acquire a trade: Apprenticeship, Creative-Active, and Mastery. While the process may seem simple, Greene emphasizes that there are no shortcuts.

Phase 1: Apprenticeship

We begin our journey to mastery with little know-how. During apprenticeship, you transform yourself from an impatient observer to someone who is disciplined and focused.

You value learning over making money. Learning the basic skills that translate into practical knowledge is the goal. And the best path to learning is to find a mentor that fits your needs.

Phase 2: Creative-Active

As future masters emerge from apprenticeship, the goal in this second transformational phase is to find the uniquely creative way you can master a field. This requires self-knowledge and dedication to following a path of experimentation on the way to a comprehensive understanding of the subject.

The stories of nine masters illustrate the importance of experimentation to goal achievement. An archetypal example is jazz master John Coltrane. After he learned the practical skills of playing the saxophone, he began experimenting with styles during collaborations with musical greats Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. He developed a style known as “sheets of sound” that included hundreds of notes per minute, as well new chord progressions that influenced generations of musicians to follow.

Phase 3: Mastery

In the Mastery phase, our understanding becomes so deep that we see the whole field of expertise clearly. We gain insights and comprehend connections that others do not. Based on historical examples, including Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci, Greene estimates that that full mastery requires 20,000 hours of immersion.

Insight #4: Mastery is the Expression of Your Life’s Purpose

Greene believes that achieving mastery is our unique “Life’s Task,” which emanates from each person’s individuality. This inalienable and deeply personal purpose has a motivating energy of its own: “This primal uniqueness naturally wants to assert and express itself,” he says. He adds:

“Mastery is not a question of genetics or luck, but of following your natural inclinations and the deep desire that stirs you from within.”

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“Feeling that we are called to accomplish something is the most positive way for us to supply [a] sense of purpose and direction.”

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Bottom Line: Worth the Read

Mastery is an awesome book and worth the read for anyone who wants to discover their purpose and achieve their full natural creative potential.

Have you read Mastery? What’s your take? What other books would you like us to review for you? Let me know below in the comments!

*Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of my affiliate links and make a purchase, I may receive a commission for referring you. This comes at no extra cost to you. I’m grateful for your support!

There's more where that came from! Related posts on Brainy Business Babe
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Join us, brainy business babe!
Enter your email below, and you’ll be able to download my daily intention-setting tool instantly for free! You’ll also get my weekly mood-boosting email, which I hope will bring a smile to your Monday morning. (Don’t worry, you can unsubscribe anytime if it’s not your thing.)


#MotivationMonday: Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. - Confucius

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Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

– Confucius

There's more where that came from! Related posts on Brainy Business Babe

#MotivationMonday: Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. – MLK

#MotivationMonday: In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer

#MotivationMonday: Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.

Join us, brainy business babe!

Sign up for the Brainy Business Babe Weekly Mood Booster e-mail and get my free daily intention-setting tool! I hope it brings a smile to your Monday mornings.


How to Build Your Office Survival Kit

How to Build Your Office Survival Kit In Case of Emergency, Relax. I loved being a Girl Scout when I was young. And I took their motto to heart: Be Prepared! That’s why I always keep a fully stocked “office survival kit” in my desk drawer. It’s saved my bacon many times – and earned me the eternal gratitude of more than a few coworkers.In Case of Emergency, Relax

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I loved being a Girl Scout when I was young. And I took their motto to heart: Be Prepared!

That’s why I always stash a fully stocked “office survival kit” in my desk drawer. It’s saved my bacon many times – and earned me the eternal gratitude of more than a few coworkers.

Your workplace may keep some of these things stocked already, which is a great perk! But it’s no substitute for having your own stash – because sometimes the office manager is on vacation, or the delivery doesn’t arrive, or everyone else has a killer headache too. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your “survival kit” always has your back. Read on for a quick step-by-step guide to the essentials!

Step 1: Grab a Zip-Up Makeup Bag

I find that a zip-up makeup bag is the perfect size to hold the office survival kit – it’s cute and it’s easy to stash in your desk, locker, car, etc. You probably have a bunch of them hanging around, so choose your chicest work-appropriate one. Not like this one:

I don’t recommend this bag for work, though it does capture the essence of what we’re doing here. Oh Shit Kit by DaintyDirtbags, $13

I don’t recommend this bag for work, though it does capture the essence of what we’re doing here. Oh Shit Kit by DaintyDirtbags, $13

In case you need a new makeup bag (or just an excuse to get a new one), here are some pretty-and-professional choices from Etsy:

Step 2: Toss in Four Fashion-Malfunction Fixers

When a seam splits, a button busts loose, or coffee lands in your lap at work, you need to fix the situation fast. Add these lifesavers to your survival kit – you’ll thank me later!

  1. Safety pins – You’ll find a few in the mini sewing kit (see below), but throw in a few more – this is the #1 most often-used item in my survival kit!
  2. Fashion tape – This super-sticky stuff fixes fallen hems, dangerously droopy necklines, and a multitude of other wardrobe mishaps.
  3. Shout wipes – Before these wipes came out, I used to literally go buy a new shirt if I spilled something on myself at work. These things are genius at getting rid of stains so you can get on with your day (and save your money).
  4. Mini sewing kit – You don’t need an arsenal of sewing supplies to reattach an errant button – a mini sewing kit has everything you need. (Fun fact: thread makes handy stand-in for dental floss when you’ve got something stuck in your teeth.)

Step 3: Just Say Yes to Drugs

Now it’s time to add any medications you might need while you’re at work. For example:

  • Your preferred painkiller for a headache or cramps (I’m talking Advil here, folks, not a bottle of Jim Beam)
  • Non-drowsy allergy meds, if you get hay fever
  • Any prescriptions meds you take that might be needed during the workday
  • Vitamins (you’ll actually remember to take these yummy gummies)

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Step 4: Add Your Favorite Little Helpers

Last of all, those little things that everyone needs sometimes: band-aids, feminine hygiene supplies, dental floss, and a toothbrush and toothpaste. Finally, grab a reusable water bottle (I adore my lovely turquoise Corkcicle bottle).

That’s it! Stash your kit in a secure place in your desk or car, and you’re ready to face the workday, whatever happens.

Did I miss any essential office-survival necessities? Let me know in the comments!

*Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of my affiliate links and make a purchase, I may receive a commission for referring you. This comes at no extra cost to you. I’m grateful for your support!

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Join us, brainy business babe!

Enter your email below, and you’ll be able to download my daily intention-setting tool instantly for free! You’ll also get my weekly mood-boosting email, which I hope will bring a smile to your Monday morning. (Don’t worry, you can unsubscribe anytime if it’s not your thing.)


#MotivationMonday: Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. - Carl Sagan

(click here to tweet)

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
– Carl Sagan

There's more where that came from! Related posts on Brainy Business Babe

#MotivationMonday: Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. – MLK
#MotivationMonday: In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer

#MotivationMonday: Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.

Join us, brainy business babe!

Sign up for the Brainy Business Babe Weekly Mood Booster e-mail and get my free daily intention-setting tool! I hope it brings a smile to your Monday mornings.