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How The 6 List Method Will Help You Get More Done Every Day

WRITTEN by CHRISSY, LAST UPDATED ON April 1, 2024

& FILED IN Get Things Done 

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Level up your productivity at home with the amazing 6 List Method. Say goodbye to stress, and hello to efficiency, and find out exactly how this technique can help you get through your TO DO list effortlessly. When you follow the method, you’ll be able to prioritise like a pro, stay focused on what matters, and get more done than ever before.

What exactly is the 6 list Method, and how can it help you get more done every day?

Nearly 100 years ago, a man called Charles Schwab (a steel company president) asked Ivy Lees (a well known efficiency expert) for his time management techniques.

Ivy Lees said Schwab only had to pay him after 3 months of using his technique, and only what he thought it was worth.

After 3 months, and in a time when the daily wage was just $2, Schwab handed over to Lees a cheque for $25,000.

If this was how much Schwab valued this productivity advice for, I wanted to investigate it a little more to see if it would work as well for home life too…

What Is The Ivy Lees Time Management Technique?

It was so simple really:-

Every night, write out the 6 most important things that you have to do the next day in order of importance.

The next day, work through these 6 things in order, and cross out as they’re done.

Lastly, any that are left can get carried over to the next day but have to be at the top of the next days list.

And that’s it!

Why does The 6 List work?

I believe that the trick to this technique is that it makes you really think about, and prioritise everything you need to do – ahead of time.

I know already that I’m better off if I start the day knowing what I’m doing – and always try to check out my planner the night before (so my subconscious can prepare overnight).

This takes it one step further – by not only checking what’s scheduled, but also scheduling in my TO DOs that are the most important.

Scheduling your TO DOs really helps them to actually get done because it means there’s no chance of wasting time procrastinating on the day, and you will know exactly what to do first as you’ve decided what’s the most important ahead of time.

It also works so well because you have to work through the entire list one at a time and in order – so there’s no chance of leaving jobs half done.

It’s a huge time and energy saver, and gives you incredible focus.

2 Ways To Use The 6 List Method At Home

I’ve used this method in 2 different ways since I found out about it, and I hope that one of these will work great for you too.

Method ONE

I always try to lead a balanced life and as part of this I try and look back over the day and check that I have done something from each part of my S.M.I.L.E acronym.

With the 6 list in mind as well, I’ve taken this process a step further.

Not only looking back over the past day, but also looking forward to the next.

In my planner each night I ensure that at least part of the following day I have something that fits into each part of the S.M.I.L.E (and I try and choose the most important item from each section as the one to do.

i.e.

  • Social – Call my family
  • Manage the Home – Ironing
  • Income – 3 hrs on Client designs
  • Leisure – Bath
  • Energy – Morning run

If I complete all these, I know I’ll feel happy that I’ve achieved a lot that day, and will, most definitely, be smiling!

…And if I haven’t ticked all the boxes already for the next day when I check, then I can adjust and add in in time to do something about it – so I’m more likely to stay on track and progress all parts of life, not letting anything take over too much.

Of course there will be times when something takes over, that’s life – but if this can be the default most of the time, then it’s worth doing!

(Yes, there are only 5 things in SMILE – but the method still works!)

Method TWO

I also work from home, and often feel overwhelmed by all the TO DOs that I have on my master TO DO list of things I have in the pipeline.

Having a top 6 list each day really helps me to focus, plan forward, and gives me a push to achieve as much as I can – for example:-

  • 3 hours for client A
  • Complete my End of month books
  • Email potential client with information
  • Call supplier to order fabric for client B
  • Send invoice to client B
  • Update page X on website

Here’s what my diary page for the following day may look like if I wanted to try and get both method 1 and method 2 looked at (totally possible…):

Diary example

As you can see – my work time is optimised, I have momentum throughout the day (including that I have done everything I wanted to, and in order of importance), and it all fits OK around all my other scheduled commitments.

Things To Consider When Picking Tasks

It’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve, and also to look at what you’ve already got booked into the next day so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Yes, go for the top 6 things on your TO DO list, but don’t get overwhelmed because you’ll end up stressed and that’s not the aim at all.

It’s important to remember that if one thing takes longer than expected, others would be pushed to the next day anyway.

So you WILL get the most important tasks done in order – and with focus.

Isn’t 6 a lot though?

6 does seem like a lot.

But it’s a good number if you think it through, there are many reasons it’s a good amount to have on your schedule:

#1 – It’s enough to create a sense of urgency which can drive you to do more.

#2 – It’s not too many to get overwhelmed

#3 – It’s enough to usually stop you from finishing the list and then wasting any extra time you’ve got working out what to do next instead of getting something done.

Overall, the 6 list is a great method to try if you’re wanting to be more productive in your day.

But use whatever number suits you best.

What exactly is the 6 list Method, and how can it help you get more done every day?

The main takeaway from the 6 List Method is that however you use it, you can definitely be more productive if you plan up front and work through your jobs in order of importance.

I hope this has inspired you to give it a try, and that it helps you be more productive from now on…

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This article was written by Chrissy

Hi - I'm Chrissy... Having run my own business for 12 years as a Professional Organiser and Interior Designer, I know what works (and what doesn't!) when it comes to setting up a home that works both functionally and aesthetically. Now you can mostly find me in a coffee shop or at home, working full time on OrganiseMyHouse.com (which I setup back in 2011) sharing all my tips and ideas. My mission is to help you create a home that you love to live in every day...

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