This Simple Nightly Routine Hack Will Boost Your Productivity

Sophie Miura

As soon as my eyes flutter open in the morning, it takes a mere second before I'm flooded with thoughts about the torrent of tasks that lie ahead. I've barely had time to register I'm awake, yet my mind seems to instantly kick into gear and race to the office, leaving me overwhelmed before I've even had a chance to peel back the sheets. This used to be a regular workweek struggle—until I made one astoundingly simple change to my schedule.

The Ivy Lee Method is a 100-year-old productivity hack that promises to streamline your day, cut inefficiencies, and supercharge your mornings. The unexpected byproduct? It puts an end to a.m. anxiety and the so-called Sunday scaries

The method is the brainchild of productivity consultant Ivy Lee, who, in 1918 was tasked with overhauling inefficient employees for one of the biggest corporations in the world. Lee spent 15 minutes with each executive and asked the employer to decide how much he should be paid for his services after three months. For a simple 15-minute pep talk, Lee was written a check for the equivalent of $400,000.

To find out if the Ivy Lee Method lives up to the hype (and warrants a $400,000 price tag), I switched up my evening routine for one week. Here's what happened. 

Step 1: Start Your To-Do List at Night

If you pen a to-do list in the morning, you're making a common mistake, Lee argues. By inverting your schedule and trying to anticipate tasks the night before, it means you have a clear plan as soon as you arrive in the office. Procrastinators, this will transform your morning routine. 

Self-improvement journalist James Clear explains why it's so effective in practice. "As a writer, I can waste three or four hours debating what I should write about on a given day," he says. "If I decide the night before, however, I can wake up and start writing immediately. It's simple, but it works. In the beginning, getting started is just as important as succeeding at all."

When I started writing my to-do list at the end of each day, I found mornings to be less stressful. Eventually, my racing mind slowed, and I felt reassured knowing I'd already developed a clear plan to achieve each task. 

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