Jerry Seinfeld has been one of the biggest comedians in the country for nearly 30 years, but you don’t write that many airline food jokes without a strong productivity system in place to give you that extra kick in the butt. Although his job mostly involves coming up with clever quips about things like tipping etiquette, his ability to get to work every single day is something anyone in any industry can take a page from.
How does he do it? With the productivity system known as Don’t Break The Chain. Simply put, pick the daily tasks you need to accomplish and start building a chain by marking off the days you succeeded in your daily goals on a calendar. Sounds too simple? It’s actually one of the most effective approaches to accomplishing your goals over a realistic period of time rather than try to sprint for the finish and burn out.
What makes the Seinfeld method great is that it combines concepts like step-by-step progress, pressure to keep moving, gamification, and a personal reward system into one incredibly simple Seinfeldian approach to getting things done.
Seinfeld realized very early that the only way to become a better joke writer was by doing it each day. Sure, some comedians can sit down and write 1,000 jokes in one day, but if Jerry writes just 10 jokes each day, by the end of a year he will have 3,650 jokes. After 10 years, 36,500 jokes. After 20 years, well, you get the point…
The principle here is that we all have tasks that we need to do each day to become better at what we do, even if we just make small daily strides. An engineer may need to do a certain amount of coding each day, a freelance writer may need to write a certain number of words each day, a realtor may need to make a certain number of sales calls each day, etc.
Pick your goal(s) and set the rules. When in the day will I do this task? How much time will I devote to this each day? Don’t worry if it’s a small amount of time, the point is that your progress builds up greatly as you consistently do it over time – allowing you to accomplish more by doing less.
For me, the hallmark of a great productivity system is simplicity. Once you have settled on a goal, you need nothing else but a calendar and a marker. After you have completed your daily task, mark the day off with a big X. If you have multiple tasks, you might want to use different colors and just create a continuous line for each task each week.
After a few days, you will have a small chain. If you are anything like me, you will want to keep that chain going more than anything. It sounds simple, but the pressure of trying to keep the chain going, visualizing my progress right on the calendar, and rewarding myself with a big red X on the calendar after every successful day makes this a killer productivity strategy everyone should try.
If you stick to the system, you will quickly see the progress you have made build into substantial results – but if you don’t, there’s always the Kramer method.