Don’t Break The Chain – An OCD Productivity System

We all like streaks/chains, and with them, progress is made day by day. Don’t Break The Chain is ideal for remembering that. Don’t Break The Chain, also known as The Seinfeld method, is an ultra-simple productivity system inspired by Jerry Seinfeld. Its beauty lies in the simplicity and motivation it can give people. 

This productivity system commits you to complete daily goal for an extended period of time. Each day you complete your daily goal, you add an X to a calendar. Eventually, you have a chain of X’s that extends days, weeks, or months.

Advantages

  • Extremely simple and effective way to build consistency  
  • For people who want to build long-term habits or want to gradually reach a goal
  • Visually stimulating productivity system

Drawbacks

  • Too simple for organizing whole day or managing hours 
  • Not perfect for project planning or traditional To-Do list techniques

7 Steps Guide to Don’t Break The Chain Productivity System

Step 1. Set Your Goals

Start with one or two realistic goals, and add more after a few weeks if you feel confident and your chain is growing day by day.

Choose a daily goal that supports your big goal or dream – one thing you can do each day to move you forward. Something you can do even on days when you’re busy or don’t feel like doing it.

You can choose to start a positive habit or stop a negative one.

Step 2. Set Daily Minimum for Each Goal

I will do 10 push-ups every day, or I’ll write/read for at least 30 min every day. Something tangible and easy.

Step 3. Set Your Streak Minimum

In theory, you can continue your streak indefinitely. However, when you first start with the method, it’s helpful to have a minimum goal of strikes. Like a 10-day streak, 30-day streak, 60-day, etc. You can also use weeks or months streak, but I recommend starting with the days.

Step 4. Set Rules

It’s easy to convince yourself that you’ve earned an X when you haven’t. That’s why step 4 is the most important step. 

Because this method expects you to work every single day, you have to figure out what to do when you’re sick, on vacation, or in an unexpected situation where you won’t be able to accomplish your goal but don’t deserve the punishment of a broken chain. 

We’re only humans, and it’s unrealistic to expect to work on our goals/habits every day for the rest of our lives, therefore: 

  • When you’re sick and unable to perform your duties, put S instead of X.
  • If you’re on vacation and cannot or do not want to perform your duties, put V.
  • If you’re burnt out and need a recovery that day, put R
  • As for weekends, you can decide whether you want to take them off or not. If yes, put W.

 

P.S.: I would highly recommend avoiding weekends off whenever you can, as they have a tendency to grow into forever off. Skipping one/two days makes it easier to skip the next.

You can also calculate how much time you’d lose in a year by skipping one or two days a week, every week for a year. 52 to 104 days of potential growth totally wasted.

 

Set the rules that will work best for you, and then follow them rigorously.

Step 5. Print A Calendar for Each Goal and Label it with that Goal

I would recommend going with a classic paper calendar instead of a digital one because having one on our computer or phone is already such a distraction to our mental health, that we don’t need one extra notification per day.

Step 6. Put A Calendar Somewhere You Can See it Regularly

Your brain works through the power of association and visualization, therefore having a calendar close to a place where you habitually do a certain task will remind and motivate you to work on your goals each day. Use this knowledge to your advantage and create specific location-based anchors for your goals – place the calendar there.

How to find the best location:

  1. Figure out where chosen activity/task/habit will take place
  2. Once you have determined where the activity will take place, figure out the best location within that space to put a calendar

 

For example, if you decide to build a habit of going to the gym every day, the activity will take place in the gym. You could put the calendar next to the front door of your house, and a mini-version in your gym bag.

If you wish to build a habit of daily writing/reading, the activity will most likely take place in the office/room. Put a calendar on the desk or pop a mini-version of a calendar in the book you’re reading. 

You can also choose to have a monthly calendar or a one-year-long calendar. P.S.: the second one is more motivating.

Step 7. Buy A Fat Red Marker

Any marker would do, but the thick one makes bigger and more rewarding X’s. 

 


Now you just need to put an X in the calendar box every time you do something to move you towards your goal on that day. Keep the chain of X’s going for as long as possible.

Final Words

Put an X in the calendar box if you did something to move you towards your goal on that day.

Keep the chain of X’s going for as long as possible.

Watch your chain of X’s grow.

And most importantly, don’t break the chain!

 

P.S.: This post is a part of a bigger one called The Best Productivity Systems in The World

 

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