Don't Break the Chain: A Way to Simultaneously Stay Productive and Improve Yourself

April 02, 2014

A great way to be highly productive and get things done is to do a little bit at a time, consistently. One way to do this is to employ the "Seinfeld Strategy." Make a chain, then don't break it.

I stay productive by attacking my projects and goals a little bit at a time, every day. Even the littlest thing counts. I might have 2 hours to devote to a particular purpose on one day, but only 5 minutes the next day. That doesn't matter. Do the 5 minutes and I'm 5 minutes closer to the end goal. Just pick something that can get done in the amount of time you have. It's surprising how much you can accomplish this way. You learn to be consistent, and to get more done in less time.

I saw this method mentioned on Twitter recently but had heard it years before attributed to Jerry Seinfeld. Apparently, these were Jerry's words to a young comedian about writing every day, and that being the only way he was going to get better as a comic. He told the guy to get out a calendar and a marker, and then put an 'X' on each day that he actually wrote something. Then:

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 is to not break the chain.

You can read more about this story in a post on James Clear's blog: How to Stop Procrastinating on Your Goals by Using the “Seinfeld Strategy”

I've been using this method for years, especially when I was working by myself and had gathered enough client work that on any given day I could be pulled in ten different directions.

The chain method

I've been doing this as far back as 2007, when I used to color code my chains. This became too time consuming in the end, but it did help me stay focused when I was working on many projects by myself.

I got a little fancy with different colors, but the idea was the same: try to work on each project a little every day. Eventually I felt that I was spending too much time on the chain rather than the tasks at hand, so I stopped using this method and have moved on to use other things like (formerly Lift app) to keep track of daily goals.

Whether you're trying to accomplish just one thing every day, or you have a host of things to stay on top of, give this method a try and see if you don't like seeing the chain get longer and longer yourself.

Ryan spends most of his time as Mystery Supply Co. He's been floating through space with you since the 70's. King of Michigan.

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