Productivity Hack

I came across a very interesting article yesterday about a cool productivity hack, from none other than Jerry Seinfeld. The basic principle is to visualize your progress. No tech, no complex system. All you have to do is take a big calendar that contains all of the days of the year. When you complete your stated goal (i.e. study a language, complete a coding excercise, stop smoking, etc), you make a big red “X” on that day.

As with all attempts to reinforce good behavior or get away from bad ones, the first week is critical. In that first week, your goal is to have a big red “X” in each day. After that, all you have to do is keep the chain going. See how long you can do it and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to the behavior you want.

Seinfeld used it for writing. He believed that the only way to be a good comic was to keep developing better jokes. Writing was his way to do that and he wanted to write every day.

It’s a bit unclear how you’d do it with a non-linear habit you’re trying to form. For example, how do you execute this hack with going to the gym? Anyone with even a basic understanding of physiology and exercise knows that you should not workout every single day. Writing or stopping smoking is a different story, of course. I guess you can just give yourself credit for a rest day, but you’ll have to be sure not to re-allocate the days (I missed yesterday, but will make it up today, on my rest day).

Either way, I’m going to give it a try and see how it goes. It makes a lot of sense to me. I’m going to start basic and like I’ve done many times before, try to dedicate more time to my writing. This won’t be every day, but I hope to do it once a week. This will be my chain. I will try not to break it. Here’s hoping….

Original Article:


3 thoughts on “Productivity Hack

  1. Eric, did you read the NYT feature they did on Seinfeld in December? It’s an interesting look at how he pursues perfection. I think it’s called “Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up” — enjoy!

  2. I didn’t see that. Do you have the link? Either way I will check it out. Thanks Lin! Hope you are doing well!

    1. Sorry – just saw this when re-checking your blog. This should hopefully get ya there: It’s titled “Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up” 🙂 I think you’ll like it. And am doing well down here in NC, busy busy trying to get my thesis research started. But excited about it. Hope things are well for you, also!

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