Jan 2, 2008
How Seinfeld’s Secret Productivity Tip Can Make You Money
It’s not often a comedian is going to get the spotlight when it comes to productivity and personal leverage, but I had to share this one with you (and no, it’s not a joke). The secret to his million-dollar-an-episode success is a simple, ten-second tactic that you can leverage to make yourself follow through on more of the things that make your business money.
Scoreboards Are An Undeniable Motivator
I’ve always been a long time believer in tracking your successes. Keeping a running log on what you’re actually doing to move forward on your projects helps motivate you to do more. If you are kicking out day after day, seeing that success log build up makes you want to follow through even more. If you miss a day or two, but you keep checking that log, you’ll feel an internal pressure to get back in the saddle again.
The power of this concept simply generates better results (so much that I’ve devoted an entire coaching session to it in the 30 Hours a Day program). Reinforcing your successes causes your brain to focus on your goal as an ‘eventuality’ more than a ‘possibility.’ And you know from personal experience that when you know for sure that a specific result is going to happen if you take action, you’re much more motivated than if you just hope you’ll achieve it.
What Seinfeld Says About Productivity
In Brad Issac’s post on Lifehacker.com, he describes this exchange with Seinfeld:
He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day … 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.”
“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.
Over the years I’ve used his technique in many different areas. I’ve used it for exercise, to learn programming, to learn network administration, to build successful websites and build successful businesses.
It works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go, it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary outcomes. You may have heard “inch by inch anything’s a cinch.” Inch by inch does work if you can move an inch every day.
Jerry and Brad have a solid understanding of how to turn up the internal pressure that actually gets the job done. It takes ten seconds to pull a calendar in front of you and mark off a quick win. Here’s a few simple ways you can make this happen starting today.
Talk Is Cheap – Do This And Make It Happen
Whether you dig paper, dry erase or the web, there are easy ways to put the power of chains to work for you.
- Buy a laminate calendar from your nearest office supply store and hang it in your office, and keep that dry-erase marker handy.
- Print up a monthly or yearly calendar for free at ePrintables (leave the image off when creating the calendar and you’ve got a nice empty box to write your goal in). PDFpad works, too. You might want to check Chris and Ben’s versions of it as well.
- Use the addictive web-based tool Don’t Break The Chain. Simple to use and frees you of the need to use paper (it allows you to create multiple goals so you can manage them easily in one place).
What Is Your First Chain Going To Be About?
Walk the walk – commit to using this powerful technique and then tell us what you’re ensuring you make progress on in 2008. And when you’re done with that, subscribe to this blog to get great tips like these throughout the year.