Don’t Break the Chain: Testing Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Technique
Consistency is so important when building and maintaining a creative career. As I spoke about in my post on building a daily routine that involves waking up at 5am every day, I realized over the last year that I am a hardcore creature of habit. I need consistency in my life and my writing and without it, I usually end up as a sopping mess of nothingness, bellowing to the heavens about my wasted ambition, unrealized talent, and soul-crushing inadequacy. This is why a guy like me is very fortunate that Jerry Seinfeld was dropped from the heavens to teach me the way of the chain.
Jerry Seinfeld is not only one of the most successful comedians of all time (and co-creator of the greatest TV show ever made), but he’s also the originator of a fascinating productivity technique that could help artists and creatives stay on track and be CONSISTENT.
Back in the 1990s, aspiring comedian Brad Isaac bumped into Seinfeld in a comedy club and asked him for some advice. Seinfeld told him, to write jokes every day, no matter what.
“He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.
He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.
He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.
He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
Good tip, eh?
So here’s what I decided to do: I got myself a big ol’ wall calendar, hung it on my bedroom wall and have started my own chain.
Whenever I do my creative work for the morning, which involves writing (and sharing) some kind narrative bit, I cross off the day. As you can see, I haven’t gotten too far yet, (and I need to figure out what to do about those weekends!) but nevertheless, I thought it would be fun to test this strategy and share the results with you all.
So in early July, I’ll follow up on this point and we’ll see where I am. Hopefully not wallowing in a puddle of my tears and misery.
This should be fun.
Feel free to join in and we’ll discuss in the comments.