Jerry Seinfeld shares a simple yet very powerful way to be consistent, as recounted by Brad Isaac,
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 then revealed a unique calendar system he was using to pressure himself to write.
Here’s how it worked.
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 toat 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.
Now there’s an iPhone application that lets you do exactly that — Streaks.
Streaks allows you to set up multiple calendars to track whatever task you want to continuously maintain, such as exercising, writing to your blog, professional development, etc. The settings allow you to specify the frequency of the task (every day, every three days, weekly, etc.) as well as what days you want to skip.
Using the app is as simple as selecting a particular calendar and marking the day with the red x. To move to the next calendar, you simply swipe the screen up (which is a bit counter-intuitive at first).
The app shows your longest streak of your primary calendar as a icon badge, and you can also get more detailed statistics on streaks for each calendar.
I think this is a great app to help with those “slight edge” activities that are important to do, but easy to skip. Of course, you’ll have to get into the habit of launching the app on a daily basis for this to work, but it still might be easier and more convenient than having a wall calendar.