Jerry Seinfeld’s Chains Productivity Secret

Everyone has been talking about the chain method for building commitment and focus of late. It’s been attributed to Jerry Seinfeld but I have a recollection of reading about it somewhere long ago.

In a nut shell, it works like this:



He [Seinfeld] said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.

He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.

I can see this working for me. Here’s the source for the above quote.

Now there’s at least one tool for using the chains method for staying on course. is an online motivational tool based on the “don’t break the chain” method that helps you stick to your good habits and break bad ones. Each day you complete a task you want to keep up, you mark it in your chains. The chain will grow longer with each day and soon your main motivation is to keep the chain from breaking. Your chains are shown visually with several great looking skins to choose from.

Try it for free at .

I can see this being especially useful when one is looking for their first deal. The first deal is always the toughest to find because you are an unknown venturing into new territory. After a few done deals, word gets out that you are a doer and not a talker and the deals start chasing you.

3 Responses to Boost Your Productivity: The Chain Method

  • Hi Peter,
    I love the idea of the chain! Thanks for sharing. (And thanks to Larry Wildman for sharing it with the BizSugar community.) It’s easy to visualize the Seinfeld example, but I’m wondering if you could elaborate a bit more about how it’s used when making that first deal. For example, would the chain involve:
    1. The number of potential buyers or clients you call on per day or week?
    2. The number of deals you close on a regular bases?
    3. The number of meetings you set with potential customers?
    4. The number of pitches you make to a potential client or customer, or
    5. Some other set of activities entirely?
    I’m not sure whether you’re a member of the BizSugar community, yet, but I’d love to get your responses in the BizSugar comment section as well for the benefit of all our members.

  • Hi, I was thinking of using the chain in this manner when you start looking for your initial deal. You simply make a commitment to talk to, say five, people every day who might be able to help you find a deal. These can be business owners, professionals who deal with them, or people in your target industry who may know who is ready to retire due to age, bad health, or simple burnout.

    They key is to actually talk to five people each day Monday through Friday. This is preferably done in person or over the phone.

    Emails do not count. They are too easy to send and even easier to ignore.

    That’s how you can begin using the chain method. You can then add other chains for things like exercise or writing blog posts or what you need to do to be productive in your particular line of work.

  • Awesome post! I’m going to start a calender chain today.

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