A $25,000 Idea That Won’t Cost You a Penny


How do you manage your daily activities; Daytimer, Outlook, Franklin Planner?  I’ve tried (and found value from) them all, but feel this simple system is THE most effective in keeping me organized and efficient.  I call it my $25,000 Idea Pad and here’s why…

Back in the early 1900’s, an efficiency expert named Ivy Lee paid a visit to Charles Schwab, the head of Bethlehem Steel Corp.  As I understand it, this is how the conversation went:

Schwab: ” I know how to run this company.  What I need isn’t more knowing; it’s more doing.  If you can show me how to get my men to work more efficiently, I’ll pay you whatever you ask, within reason.”

Lee: “Before you go to bed at night, make a list of  the 6 most important things you need to do tomorrow.  Number them in order of importance (1-6).  First thing in the morning, get to work on #1.  Stick with it until it’s complete, and then move onto #2. Proceed through the list until you’re done work for the day.  Do this everyday for a week, then teach your men to do it.  If you find it of value, you can pay me whatever you think the idea was worth.”

As the story goes, Schwab took Lee’s suggestion and ended up writing him a check for $25,000.

I’ve been using this system for years and can’t imagine anything more effective when it comes to keeping track of and managing activities. Let me know if you’d like to give it a try and I’ll send you a PDF of the form I created.  Also would love to hear your ideas of how you manage your day.

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8 Comments

Filed under Coaching, Personal Development

8 responses to “A $25,000 Idea That Won’t Cost You a Penny

  1. Jeff Herring

    Sounds great – thanks for offering the PDF – send it on pls!

    ~ Jeff

  2. I’d like to get the pdf as well! Thanks Linda!

  3. Wow! Just 6 things on my list. I like this. The trick will be to have a notebook on my nightstand.

    Should I have several notebooks if I’m juggling many projects / businesses?

    Oh, and I found your comments very funny on the WordPress post, “Are you well-versed in comment etiquette?” That is how I found your blog.

    • Deborah~I suggest just 1 notebook (or sheet, which I’ll email to you). When you see it, you’ll see how it can be used to manage multiple activities in one place.
      Glad you liked my comment on the “comment etiquette” blog. I found that to be really useful information, as I am definitely a novice. Let me know how you like the $25K Idea sheet and thanks for visiting my blog!

  4. MP

    I’m so glad you shared the $25,000 idea…. and I’m glad you refreshed my memory on how ‘the story went’! I use it and love it but forgot where the story… I should have written it down! I was always a ‘list-maker’; however, this sheet is simple, sweet, and concise. There was a day I ran out of blank $25,0000 forms and couldn’t pull up the pdf…. so I re-did it. I just couldn’t start my day without it. Thanks again, Lindar. Best, MP

  5. caroline mercier

    Hi Linda,

    I would love to try this… I keep coming across this suggestion to write my goals down and last night I actually wrote down that today I would write my ‘bucket list’. I took the day off to be home with my sick boy. Now, I’m catching up on your blog and see this list idea again. Some one recently told me that those who actually write down their goals are (something like 10 x) more likely to achieve them. So, I’m taking this as a big hint – please send along your PDF!
    Thanks! Love, Caroline

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