Daily Quotes

Don’t break the chain

It’s boring to keep doing 10 pushups a day. OR to write 100 words a day. Motivation gets us started with these habits but more often they last only as long as our motivation does (i.e. not for long).

There are literally thousands of blogs, theories and articles out there about how to achieve your goals and be productive all the time (yes, this one is also amongst them). But often the task of maintaining and keeping up with these plans, systems and procedures takes up more time than doing the actual tasks themselves. Thus, you end up wasting even more time.

Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced everyday

           – Jim Ron

So today, we will discuss a method of productivity that is as intuitive as its simple. The credit for first articulating this method goes to the legendary comedian, Jerry Seinfeld.  The basic system is as follows:

  1. Hang up a big calendar on your wall. It should be in a prominent place where you can see it everyday.
  2. Buy a red marker and pick up one habit that you want to stick to.
  3. Then for each day that you perform the habit, put a red cross on the calendar against that date. Follow this plan for a couple of days
  4. Pretty soon, you will have a chain of red crosses on the calendar in front of you. Now the only thing you need to do is to not break the chain. That’s all

Do you see the simplicity and effectiveness of this approach? By taking a small task and converting it into a daily challenge, this method ensures we actually start looking forward to putting that tick. What was once mundane and boring, is now exciting and satisfying (the scientific reason for the happiness you feel while putting that cross is the release of a chemical known as dopamine, read about it if you haven’t heard of it before).

This technique has been applied by many people to various different field of life. I have been using this technique to ensure I do at least 15 pushups a day and recently, am using it to re-affirm my writing habit (one blog post a day).

Quick Tip: You can use apps like Rewire or Don’t Break the Chain instead of an actual calendar. They also show you the length of your chain, another important factor in not wanting to break it.


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