Disadvantage of the Ivy Lee Method of Productivity

5 Disadvantages of Ivy Lee Method of Productivity

The Ivy Lee method is a simple productivity system that provides a great structure to your day.

You write down around 6 tasks to accomplish during the day, start and finish the first task, then the second and so on. 

However, there are a few disadvantages to using the Ivy Lee method. First, this doesn’t make the method ineffective, but there are a few limitations to using it.

Discover them below:

1. Limits the number of tasks

In the Ivy Lee method, it’s ideal to list out 6 tasks in a day before you set out to accomplish them. But most people often have more than 6 tasks in a day. 

So then, how do you account for these extra tasks? And when you do add them, there’s pressure to finish them. So this is a big limitation of using the Ivy Lee Method.

2. Emergency tasks

In today’s day and age, you’ll often face tasks you might not have planned. For instance, you might need to prepare an emergency report or write an article on the latest trend.

Because of the task’s urgency, you must make a provision to add it to your list. Once again, adding this new task means ignoring the others for the time being.

3. Not always suitable

This productivity method isn’t suitable for all tasks. In my personal experience, I use it only for work-related activities, not in my personal life. 

I find time blocking a better time management strategy for the latter.

4. It’s easy to overestimate what you can do in a day.

Sometimes, it’s easy to assume you’ll finish all the 6 tasks that day. As humans, we often overestimate what we can do in 1 day. I’ve been guilty of this from time to time. 

The challenge arises when one task consumes a lot of time. For example, it could be that you are writing an article, and what you assumed would take 2 hours suddenly becomes a 4-hour-long task.

As a result, you spend more time and energy. This eventually zaps out your energy reserves, leaving you with very little to finish the other remaining items on the to-do list.

To avoid this, I suggest you take a practical stock of how many tasks you can finish during that day and only then create a task list.

5. Requires consistency and discipline.

You have to spend 2-3 minutes every day creating a list before you even start working. Sometimes, there will be days when you’ll feel like skipping this ritual. After all, it’s just 2-3 minutes.

So this practice requires some degree of consistency and discipline. 

An example highlighting the disadvantages of the Ivy Lee Method

Imagine you work as a journalist.

You start the day by listing the 6 big tasks, following the Ivy Lee Method: 

  • Finish 2 articles. 
  • Schedule a social media post on LinkedIn. 
  • Edit the 2 articles you wrote the previous day.

You finish the first article in time. But by the time you start to work on the second article, your energy has dropped. You find it hard to research. Words are hard to come by. 

What do you do now? You decide to give up on task 2 of writing the article and proceed to create a post on LinkedIn. 

You face some difficulty, but you finish the task. Then as you are about to do the 4th task, your client asks if you could be available for a quick meeting.

You jump on the call with clients. And when it finishes, you are left with very little energy to finish the remaining tasks on the list.

The problem here was you overestimated how much you could do in a day. The emergency meeting only took out more energy from you.

Conclusion: Does this mean the Ivy Lee Method is ineffective?

No. This method has disadvantages, but it doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. By sharing the disadvantages of this method, I just want to make you aware of where you could go wrong. 

You can still get a whole lot accomplished during the day by using this method.

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