Printing Out Seinfeld’s Chain

For all of the laptops and mobile devices in my house, I never quite got the hang of cooking from a recipe displayed on a computer screen. I’ve tried propping my iPad up in a cookbook holder, or using a recipe program that displays ingredients in large type (and even speaks the directions), but it never quite worked. I’ve always preferred either printing out a hard-copy of a recipe, or cooking from the well-worn pages of a cookbook.

Is it any wonder that I had trouble following Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t Break the Chain” productivity secret?

Adam Dachlis at Lifehacker provides an excellent overview of the concept. Essentially, it involves keeping track of your activities on a calendar:

..spend some amount of time doing a desired activity every day and, when you do, cross off that day on a calendar. This creates a chain of Xs showing your progress. If you don’t do your specified task on one day, you don’t get an X and that chain is broken. It seems almost too simple to work, but it’s allowed me to accomplish so much more than I ever thought possible.

I started using this method to encourage me to do a daily routine of core strengthening exercises. Each day, after I went through my routine, I’d mark a day on the calendar, and watch my chain of unbroken days grow.

Except I thought I’d improve on the idea and make it virtual. I created a special Google Calendar called “Daily Streak” and marked my days off there. You know the expression “out of sight, out of mind?” After a couple of weeks, I stopped loading up my Google Calendar. I lost track of the chain, and thus stopped doing my exercises as regularly as I’d hoped.

So now, I’m going to treat my chain calendar like a recipe: I’m printing it out, and keeping it by my workspace in my office, where it will be visible, and eventually, well worn.

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