Don’t Break the Chain – A Way of Life

How are your New Years resolutions going? January 1 st we all start to make “New Year’s resolutions”, which is a fancy way of saying we’ll try forming better habits.  Often, our New Year’s resolutions are us promising ourselves we’ll form good habits this year: whether it’s something big like “I’m going to eat better” or “I’m going to save more money” to “I’m going to actually start flossing every day”.  So often, these habits end up dying off pretty quickly.  I found a few of my New Years Resolutions have been… forgotten.

I’ve overwhelmed myself by an unwieldy list of goals, sitting unaccomplished, in a long-term to-do list for this year.  Then I came across a simple trick that solved my problem.  As gimmicky as it may sound, I’m now accomplishing everything I’d been putting off in just an hour or two a day.

I exercise every day, read, eat healthy, do my chores, write, draw and keep track of not doing some of my personal bad habits.  My room is always neat and tidy.  I’ve finished more books, drawings, and writing in the last 30 days than I have, well….ever.  I did all of this with very little effort. How? I finally decided to give Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret a try.

It’s more commonly known as “Don’t Break the Chain,” and the concept is simple: spend a fixed amount of time doing a desired activity every day and, when you do, cross off that day on a calendar.  This creates a chain of Xs showing your progress. If you don’t do your specified task on one day, you don’t get an X and that chain is broken.  It seems almost too simple to work, but it has allowed me to accomplish so much more than I ever thought possible.

That said, the concept wasn’t perfect for me and it didn’t account for things like sick days. It assumes you have one goal and will never take a break. I wanted to exercise, keep my room clean, read, write, draw, but not every single day for the rest of my life.

Originally, I looked at my schedule and realised there was only about an hour or two per day I could devote to any of these tasks while still enjoying a social life and maintaining my sanity.

I decided to start with three goals to try it out, I downloaded the Way of Life iPhone App put three goals into the app to keep track of, one Writing, one Exercise, and one Drawing. After a week I’d written a few blogs, done a many run/swim/ride sessions, and had done several drawings. Everything was easy, my progress was visible with Green for completed and Red for incomplete each day, and my tasks started to become addictive.

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View weekly/monthly progress

The Way of Life App allows a daily alert reminder to be set, I have mine set for 7pm.  If by 7pm at night I have not completed my goals for each day, I then have a 2-3 hour time gap to complete them in before going to bed.

This process works because it creates good work habits, doesn’t require much of your time, demonstrates your progress visually every day, and makes you feel incredibly accomplished and productive despite only working for a short period of time. It’s easy, it’s fun, and if it’s something you want to do you should do it now.

Mars on Life.