How Seinfeld's Productivity Secret Fixed My Procrastination Problem

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I’ve lengthy been overwhelmed by an unwieldy listing of targets that may sit, unaccomplished, in a long-term to-do listing 12 months after 12 months. Then I got here throughout a easy trick that solved my continual downside. As gimmicky as it might sound, I am now carrying out every part I might been pushing aside in simply an hour a day. Here’s how one can, too.

I train daily. My house is all the time neat and tidy. I’ve completed extra tasks within the final 60 days than I’ve within the entirety of 2011. I did all of this with little or no effort. How? I lastly determined to present Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret a attempt. It’s extra generally often known as “Don’t Break the Chain,” and the idea is easy: spend some period of time doing a desired exercise daily and, if you do, cross off that day on a calendar. This creates a series of Xs displaying your progress. If you do not do your specified activity on someday, you do not get an X and that chain is damaged. It appears nearly too easy to work, but it surely’s allowed me to perform a lot greater than I ever thought attainable.

That mentioned, the idea wasn’t good for me and it did not account for issues like sick days and holidays. The trick assumes you’ve gotten one purpose and by no means take a break. I wished to train, hold my house clear, deal with chores extra responsibly, work on varied improvement tasks, and write screenplays, however not each single day for the remainder of my life. Originally, I checked out my schedule and realized there was solely about an hour per day I might dedicate to any of those duties whereas nonetheless having fun with a social life and sustaining my sanity. That didn’t look like sufficient time to do something, so I gave up. But then, for some cause, “Don’t Break the Chain” began inadvertently showing in internet searches and e mail messages. I might heard about it however by no means actually bothered to search out out what it was or the way it labored. When I lastly seemed, I noticed that if I devoted 15 minutes per day to every one in all my desired duties I might make some progress, and that may be higher than no progress in any respect. Besides, practicing multiple skills at once is supposed to be good for you. I figured, what is the hurt?

I made a decision to begin with three targets to attempt it out and so I put three calendars on the wall for the month of December. I marked one Writing, one Exercise, and one Cleaning. After per week I might written about 30 pages, carried out 700 push ups and 980 sit ups, jogged a number of miles, and my house was as clear as a catalog picture. Everything was straightforward, my progress was seen, and my duties began to change into addictive.

Now that the broad story and what may be completed, let’s speak about how this works.

The Process, Step by Step

The whole course of is remarkably straightforward and you will get every part prepared in about 15 to 30 minutes. We’ll go over every step intimately, however this is the overall define:

  1. Figure out your targets. Start with not more than three, and add a fourth purpose after three weeks should you can deal with it.
  2. Set every day minimums for every purpose. Things like “I’ll run one mile” or “I’ll put away 10 stray objects” work higher than setting a time restrict.
  3. Set your boundaries and guidelines. Because this course of expects you to work each single day, you must determine what you are going to do if you’re sick, on trip, or simply end up in a state of affairs the place you will not be carrying out your purpose that day however do not deserve the punishment of a damaged chain.
  4. Print out a calendar for every purpose and label it with that purpose. I choose a sequence of month-to-month calendars as a result of there’s extra room to make a giant X, however historically “Don’t Break the Chain” makes use of one year-long calendar. Either method, put these calendars up in your wall the place you may see them commonly.
  5. Buy a fats crimson marker, or any marker—the fats ones simply amplify and extra rewarding Xs.

Step One: Choose Your Goals

When you are deciding on your targets, I’ve discovered it helps to begin broadly. When I first started I wished to jot down a really particular screenplay, however I knew I might end it and transfer on to one thing else. As a end result, I merely made writing a purpose. Additionally, your train routine should not be the identical daily otherwise you will not get sufficient variation, so I made train one other broad purpose. Basically, do not be too particular if you’re deciding what you need to do. You can outline your tasks as you go. The vital factor is that you simply decide classes that features many tasks so that you all the time have one thing to do. I discovered that I ran out of cleansing duties in a short time, so I wanted to increase my cleansing purpose to chores usually. Everything is as much as you, so you may regulate your course of as wanted.

Step Two: Set Your Minimums

Now that you’ve targets, you could determine the minimal quantity of labor you are required to perform every day with a purpose to earn your X on the calendar. Because I solely had an hour to spare, I needed to hold my duties to 15 minutes every. Telling your self you’ve gotten 15 minutes to work on one thing does not offer you tangible accomplishments, nevertheless, so I like to recommend setting quite simple targets that appear like slightly however add as much as quite a bit in a short time. Here’s what I got here up with:

  • Cleaning: Do one chore per day. For instance, put away 10 stray objects, vacuum, take out the trash and put in a brand new trash bag, clear the counter tops, and so forth. Pick one, do it.
  • Exercise: Do a portion of your train routine every day. Go for a jog or stroll, plus push ups, sit ups, free weights, or one other focused train. Do as many repetitions as attainable and take no breaks. (This quantities to 15-20 minutes of train, which is really all you need to get reasonably fit.)
  • Writing: Write one web page per day, or revise three pages of current writing.
  • Development: Complete one particular activity in your improvement listing. This could imply styling a component in CSS, writing a brand new perform, or fixing a bug.

The concept is to primarily seize a activity that you would be able to simply accomplish inside a given timeframe. With issues like train, you may most likely all the time dissipate the overall allotted time as a result of as you get stronger and quicker you may have to work tougher to proceed to get higher. With issues like cleansing, nevertheless, taking out the trash solely takes a couple of minutes and scrubbing the bathroom can take a bit longer. Some days could also be slightly longer and a few slightly shorter, but it surely all evens out ultimately.

Step Three: Set Your Boundaries

It’s unrealistic to count on your self to work on all of your targets daily for the remainder of your life. Sometimes you get sick and typically you want a break. That mentioned, it simply feels incorrect to place an X on a day the place you probably did nothing. It additionally feels incorrect to interrupt the chain for a cause past your management or for a hard-earned trip. If you consider this course of like a mini-job, nevertheless, the answer is easy: day without work advantages.

When you are sick and might’t carry out your duties, put an S as a substitute of an X on that day. If you are on trip and can’t or don’t need to carry out you duties, put a V on that day. How many days do you get off? I simply use the identical guidelines as my job: three weeks per 12 months together with sick days. You can comply with the identical advantages you get at work or simply use the usual allotment: 15 trip days and 6 sick days. Your days off get reset on the finish of yearly, and should you begin after the primary of the 12 months you must prorate the quantity. As for weekends, you may resolve if you wish to take these off or not. Personally, I discover the weekends to be one of the best days to work as a result of I’ve a lot time. I choose to work daily as a result of the dedication is so small and it helps construct higher habits, however you must set guidelines for your self that work finest in your life.

Since beginning this course of, I’ve taken one journey, gotten one thing just like the flu, and harm my arm. None of those issues prevented me from engaged on my targets each single day. When I used to be on the journey I could not clear my home so as a substitute I cleaned the place I used to be staying to assist out. I additionally spent someday sorting the mail and one other day getting my automobile washed. When I harm my arm, I merely did different workout routines till it felt higher. When I used to be below the climate, I simply sucked it up and labored anyway. I do not essentially advocate this, however I’ve come to like this course of a lot that I wasn’t going to let fatigue and problem respiration cease me from getting issues carried out. (I want I used to be kidding.)

Step Four: Print Your Calendars

Once you’ve got received a plan collectively, you are going to want calendars to maintain monitor of your progress. You can purchase one, or you may simply print them without cost. I used iCal to print mine as a result of I like the best way they give the impression of being, however you may simply grab free, printable calendars from Print Free. Monthly calendars take up a whole lot of room on the wall, so chances are you’ll choose to print out a 12 months as a substitute. “Don’t Break the Chain” historically makes use of a single web page year-long calendar, however I like seeing my progress in massive kind. Choose the kind that works finest for you.

Step Five: Get a Big, Fat Marker

Silly, sure, however that is additionally the enjoyable half. Getting a giant, fats marker does not require a lot extra clarification, however there are a few issues so as to add. First, you need to keep away from something that is going to run by means of paper so everlasting markers like this one will not be a good selection. (That is, until you print your calendars on very thick paper.) Instead, I like to recommend selecting up a pack of Crayola Broad Point Markers. You get eight for lower than the price of a everlasting marker. Also, chances are you’ll need to decide up some Industrial Strength Adhesive Velcro. Velcro is useful in life (especially for tablet owners) but it surely’s additionally a easy strategy to stick your marker on the wall in addition to your calendars so it is all the time obtainable to cross off a day.

Ready, Set, Go!

You’re carried out getting every part collectively and you can begin proper now. But if not proper now, then tomorrow. Whatever you do, do not plan to begin on a distant day. Your plan must be really easy that little or no can get in the best way of your every day progress, so should you’re not prepared to begin tomorrow then you could return and determine find out how to make your plan easy sufficient to take action. This course of works as a result of it creates good work habits, does not require a lot of you, demonstrates your progress visually daily, and makes you are feeling extremely completed and productive regardless of solely working for a brief time frame. It’s straightforward, it is enjoyable, and if it is one thing you need to do you must do it now. There’s no cause to attend.

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