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.

Blog posted on: June 26, 2009

12 comments on “Motivations – The Seinfeld Calendar

  1. Anonymous

    What I like about this idea, and the original quote is that it makes you treat/view motivation as a tool rather than an emotion. For example.

    Correct: I'm going to motivate myself by doing such such and such.

    Incorrect: I don't feel motivated today, so I'm going to watch TV.

    The only problem is what if you don't feel motivated enough to motivate yourself..!

    Reply
  2. Paul

    Love it Nev, I'll be starting this, probably starting July 1. Good call on this, now I just need to figure out what I'm going to do EVERY day.

    Reply
  3. Oke

    Every day something has to be done towards that passion or whatever it is you want to do.

    You are right, each day gets easier, and it is something you never want to stop doing.

    Ever since the beginning of the year I have been writing everyday (even on weekends). I am now up to 45 minutes per day and love it.

    Yours is a different goal. What things are you putting on your to-do list? Are they things you want to do or are they just things you put on the list that are easy?

    Reply
  4. Colin

    Looking at that picture of your monitor Nev, I was noticing some of your bookmarks. I think it would be really great if perhaps you could share what sites you have bookmarked on your computer or elsewhere and why you think that they're helpful. Thanks!

    Reply
  5. Autumn

    Thanks for this post. I have found myself with little motivation to do the tedious work needed for my ecommerce store recently (especially since it's summer). The idea to do a little each day and track your success is a good one.

    I have actually been doing this for over a month with calorie counting and nutrition on thedailyplate.com. I can totally relate to not wanting to break "the streak" of meeting the daily calorie goal. It never occurred to me to track my daily work activities in the same way, but it makes a lot of sense :)

    Reply
  6. The Gooroo @ Finance Advisory Stop

    Neat idea. I guess this seems even more appealing because of the word Seinfeld. I love Seinfeld, even after many years of watching repeat episodes.

    Reply
  7. M-DOOG

    Nev is just a clever guy. This is a great idea to keep yourself on track for a long-term goal, but he also knows how to make his blog interesting and Google search worthy. Jerry Seinfeld is probably a big search keyword on Google, and will probably bring a lot of hits to his blog. Nev, you really are an inspiring person. Keep it up!

    Reply
  8. Betty Jean

    What a great post!
    I have a similar "big damn calendar" at my place. I've been keeping it since Sept '08. I call it my "Victory Calendar" and mark each day with a big highlighter "V" when I complete my goals. I use a paper calendar, though, so I can write notes in black ink and finally highlight my completed day. It works like a charm! I usually average 5 days per month with no "V". Not bad.

    You kick ass, Neville! Hope you are doing great!

    Reply
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