Thursday, January 14, 2010

Don't break the chain!

As I was preparing to commit myself to regular blogging, I looked for different ways to help me stay on target so that I wouldn't run out of steam once things got hard. The best thing so far has been to make a recurring task in Outlook, since my personal organization goal is to use the task list regularly.

There are lots of goals that people have that have to be done every day. Personal development goals like prayer or meditation, diets, quitting smoking.... They each have to be done every day. In my reading I discovered Jerry Seinfeld's productivity system!

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. But his advice was better than that. 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."

So there you go! Don't break the chain.

Don't break the chain.

But what happens if your goal isn't a daily activity? My goal for blogging is Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You'll end up with a series of lines on your calendar, and I've been a bit annoyed at how that would look.

Until I found this!

At first I just thought it was a cool calendar, but then I realized I could use this as my "Jerry Seinfeld Wall Calendar" to keep track of when I've done my tasks. Instead of boring old stripes running down a page, picture filling in a series of concentric circles! If you miss a day, it'll show up as a hole in one of the rings and you'll be extra motivated to make sure you get the next target dates so that you can keep those rings perfect.

It would be cool to have multi-colored markings for different tasks, but that would probably get unwieldy to update. Nope, just do a separate one of these for each non-daily task you're keeping track of.

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