The first time I heard about Jerry Seinfeld’s “Productivity System” was 2013.¹ ² The system is simple:
- Get a big wall calendar
- Draw a big red X on each day you complete your task (e.g., writing)Then, after a few days of completing your task, you’ll have just one job:
- Don’t break the chain
Though I never bought a wall calendar, I’ve been trying to make a habit of writing for years and I keep Jerry’s habit in my mind. Days that I write — those are good days. Days that I don’t — they’re less good. It’s working too. This year’s been my best year ever and last month was a personal best for me in terms of days writing.
This is true despite the fact that I’m aware that Jerry never used this system and that it’s an accident of internet lore that he’s credited as the progenitor.
The fact that he didn’t actually come up with the system doesn’t matter.³ The story is better for having Jerry as the protagonist. Simply defining a system (like I did above) won’t compel people. Telling them Jerry Seinfeld used it to cultivate his skill as a comedian will though.
This is not an endorsement for lying. If you have facts, use them. But don’t let them get in the way of telling a good story if the point is worth hearing.