End of day, list your top 6 to-dos ready for tomorrow

End of day, write your list of top 6 to-dos ready for tomorrow

Copyright © Nina Sunday. All rights reserved.

Here’s a true story I came across at one of the many Time Management workshops I attended over the years to understand productivity best practice.

Steel magnate, Charles Schwab, President of Bethlehem Steel from 1903, was the first American to earn over a million dollars a year. As the story goes, in 1918, when Schwab met with trusted advisor, Ivy Lee, he challenged Lee with, ‘What can you teach me about productivity, Ivy, that I don’t already know?’

Accepting the dare, Lee handed Schwab a blank piece of paper and invited him to write down his top 6 priorities for tomorrow. After Schwab listed his 6 tasks, Lee next instructed, ‘Now number each item in order of priority.’ Schwab numbered his list.

Top 6 method

Lee explained, ‘When you arrive at your desk, start working on your number one item. Stay with it until it’s complete or you’ve taken it as far as you can go. Only then start on your number two item, until it’s complete or you’ve taken it as far as you can go; then your number three item, and so on. Cross off each task as it is accomplished, then move to the next to-do on your list.

‘As each new task turns up throughout the day, add it to your list according to its priority, while staying focused on your current task, unless that new item is of higher importance than the one you are currently working on.

‘At end of every business day, create a fresh list of your top six to-dos, in order of priority, ready for next day, including anything unfinished or new things you’ve added during the course of the day.’

Lee continued, ‘Teach your managers to do a top six list at end of every day, ready for next day.

‘And oh, by the way Charles, don’t pay me now for this idea. When you are convinced of the value of this system, send me a cheque for whatever you think this idea is worth’.

Five weeks later Schwab invited Lee to his office. ‘You remember, Ivy, that efficiency tip you gave me? That’s the single most useful piece of advice I’ve ever had in business! Here’s my thank you.’ Schwab handed Lee a cheque for $25,000.

This simple top 6 idea helped Schwab grow Bethlehem Steel into the second largest steel producer in the United States.

Five Quick Questions

  1. Do you use a to-do or task list?
  2. Do you list items in order of priority?
  3. Do you create a fresh list at end of each day?
  4. Do you start each day working on your top priority?
  5. Do you stay focused and work through your list, in order of priority?

Try these five steps for a week and be amazed at how INDISTRACTIBLE you become, using the power of focus. Then it follows, you’ll get more done in a day; more of the right things.


If you do decide to schedule time management training for your team, would you choose:

  • face-to-Face workshop, half-day or full day, at your workplace?
  • live online workshop (individuals join a mixed group, or exclusive for your team)?
  • 30-Day Challenge (5-min microlessons via daily notification)

We’ve got you covered with all 3 formats. Contact us for details and start dates.

10 Phrases To Make Your Writing More Persuasive

Ever composed an email to persuade your reader to take an action or motivate them to agree to something? And did you ever wonder . . . is there a secret language of influence? The answer is yes! Keep reading for some simple ways to make your writing more persuasive.

Here are suggestions re language that has proven effective to achieve a desired outcome.

Instead of a commanding tone, use a tone of possibility.

Firstly, you will need to avoid words like:

  • you must
  • you should
  • you ought to
  • you have to
  • you need to

They come across as ‘bossy’. They force the reader to obey. Humans respond more positively when given the perception of choice.

These phrases work better:

  1. I suggest . . .
  2. I recommend . . .
  3. You might like to . . .
  4. Please . . .

This language makes you appear a trusted advisor, (not a police officer.)

You can also try these sentence starters to strengthen your influencing effect:

  1. If you do decide to . . .
  2. Would you be willing to . . .
  3. Are you open to . . .
  4. I’m wondering if . . .
  5. I don’t know if . . .
  6. If you can . . . (describe the action) . . . please, I’d appreciate it.

You might like to test how using these sentence starters result in a better response in your recipients.

Are you looking to learn more about persuasive writing? Contact us to discuss how we can help you ignite your team’s service performance, or visit our Business Writing training web page.