Have you ever wanted to start a new habit – or re-start an old – such as exercising, reading, painting, etc.?
I love reading about productivity.
For me personally, I’d like to become a writer. So I get up in the morning, log onto my computer, and start reading about how to become a writer. I heat up my oatmeal, make some coffee, and continue reading about all the things I need to do to become a writer.
All without writing a single word.
Sure I learn a lot in those few morning hours, but can you see what I did wrong?
I didn’t practice.
It all adds up
There is only one piece of advice I’ve heard to become a better writer (or a better anything) and it’s to practice, everyday, no matter what.
Let me put this into perspective. If I were to write 500 words everyday over the course of a year, come New Years Eve I’d have 182,500 words written, more than the Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (177,227 words).
Granted, I’m not focused on writing 500 words a day. No, I’m focused on developing a daily habit of writing, even if it’s just writing down a single thought.
As simple as it sounds, I’m still struggling to establish a daily habit of practicing. Or should I say, was struggling until I found a straightforward trick from an unlikely source: Jerry Seinfeld.
X marks the progress
You probably have heard of Seinfeld, the successful comedian with a show about nothing, but you probably didn’t know he’s a productivity fiend. Without fail, Seinfeld writes jokes every single day, non-stop. How does he do it?
In an old Lifehacker article, Seinfeld reveals he uses a giant calendar hung in a prominent area. Each day he writes a joke, he puts a red “X” on the day. After a few days, he has 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.”
I wanted to take Jerry’s word for it and give it a try. But instead of using a large calendar, I used the free app Rewire to track my progress. Not only is it a simple way to log your tasks, the app sends you encouraging quotes each morning and push notifications at the end of the day if you haven’t recorded any tasks.
For the skeptics
I can hear the grumbling amongst some of you: “Doing something everyday does not make you successful.”
True, absolutely true. If I want to be a writer there is still so much more I have to do than writing a few words everyday.
But, I can guarantee you I’ll never become a writer if I don’t write every day.
Practicing every day is the necessary first step towards success. When I woke up this morning I had no clue what I was going to write. But here I am 500 words later with yet another blog post. Another “X” for me.
Don’t break the chain.