Motivations – The Seinfeld Calendar

I remember reading a Zig Ziglar quote that said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

That made me laugh out loud!

I used to put all sorts of post-it notes on my bathroom mirror and on my walls but in the last year or so I haven’t done that. I’ve always put little post-its on my computer monitor, but those quickly fade into the background. In fact until I wrote this I forgot I even had one on the monitor AS I TYPE!

Perhaps something I look at for 10+ hours a day isn’t the best place for a reminder as it fades into the background so quickly.

About a year ago I read every book I could find on Jerry Seinfeld, and one of the keys to his success was his small, but extremely consistent generation of new comedic content. Everyone interviewed said, “Jerry was the only comic I knew who wrote new material every single day.”

There was a passage of him talking about his method (Don’t quote this as I’m reciting it from memory):

I take one of those giant year-long calendars and post it on the wall. If I write new material that day, at the end of the day I put a big, red “X” over that day.

He goes on to explain that after you have a long streak of X’s marking the last few months, you don’t want to break the streak by not writing that day. This way he is motivated to write everyday, and pretty soon it just becomes a natural habit…and I’m sure a lot easier too.

This “Seinfeld Calendar” can easily be applied to any task you want to perform daily.

First order of business: apply it to my life.

Step 1.) Buy a big damn calendar. Office Depot. Check.

Step 2.) Define what I want to put an “X” on each day for. This took longer than expected. I had no idea what I wanted to do everyday! It has to be something you’re dead serious about performing EVERY DAY no matter how tired or busy you are.

After jotting down some possibilities I came upon the realization that I’m great at making challenging to-do lists, but can be a bit of a slug trying to complete them. What good is a daily to-do list if not completed daily?

So my personal “X” for the day is if I fully completed my pre-defined to-do list.

I of course append different things to that requirement in my mind like “Did I do valuable work today?” but then things get too subjective. A simple, concrete, singular goal will be best.

So here is the “Seinfeld Calendar” I hung in my room. When I wake up in bed it’s the first thing I see.

I put small quotes here and there on the calendar for fun. I started this calendar on June 1st, 2009 and I’ve done a decent job, but not consistent of knocking out full to-do lists everyday. Out of 26 days so far in June I’ve missed my goal 8 days. Most of those are weekends (which I still make to-do lists for), but there are several weekdays which are completely inexcusable.

However I’m getting better. Those blank spaces piss me off. They make me think, “What was I possibly doing that in the long run could’ve been more helpful than completing all my work for the day?”

**Update: 4 Month Update here.