Posts Tagged ‘time management’

Seinfeld System Inspires Creativity

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

I never saw a time management tool I didn’t like – for at least 15 minutes. So when my husband started printing out monthly calendars and marking the days with big red X’s, I was intrigued.

“What’s that for?” I asked.

“Trying out the Jerry Seinfeld system,” he said.

Turns out that when Seinfeld was not standing in line waiting for the Soup Nazi, he was back home writing jokes for at least 15 minutes a day. All thanks to a productivity system he reportedly invented called “Don’t Break The Chain.”

“Pretty simple,” explained my Seinfeld protégé. “You just print out a monthly calendar and put a big red X on each day you put in at least 15 minutes working on a big priority. By the end of the month, you want an X on every day, so you don’t break the chain.”

He was nailing a calendar sheet to the office wall as he spoke. Four sheets actually, because he figured, at 15 minutes per priority, he could cover four priorities that he might otherwise postpone in only an hour a day. His were exercise, writing, meditation and – happily – chores.

Not to be outdone, I requested blank copies of the better-than-Seinfeld calendar template he had created. Besides a mere calendar, it included lines to write in what he’d decided were permissible activities in each category. This was to comply with the requirement that you lay down the “rules” in advance.

I couldn’t wait to get started and picked exercise, writing, meditation and marketing. Forget chores. It looked like my husband would be doing them.

I was excited. Online, I discovered that one exuberant blogger, test-driving the system for exercise, writing and cleaning, reported that with very little effort the first week he’d written about 30 pages, done 700 pushups, 980 sit-ups, jogged several miles and his apartment was “as clean as a catalog photo.”

I figured with the Seinfeld system, by month’s end I’d have written a poem a day, developed a mediation habit as solid as the Dali Lama’s, an exercise routine to rival Jillian Michaels’ and a client base like Tony Robbins’.

The exuberant blogger and my husband agonized about a lot of details ahead, such as when they were “excused” from these priority activities. Sickness? Vacation? I decided to take the road less traveled and just made up the rules as I went along. Church on Easter definitely counted as meditation. E-Mails to one’s accountant during tax season were definitely writing. And so forth. Yada, yada, yada.

April is not done, but so far, I must confess that I’m less productive than either my husband or the exuberant blogger. But I’m far more creative.

For example, I’ve enhanced the red X system. My chain – still unbroken – has alternative colors: yellow X’s for under 15 minutes where I did over 15 minutes the day before, blue X’s for alternate activities. For example, walking a total of 15 minutes a day, including to the refrigerator, might earn a blue X.

I know. Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason. I think Seinfeld said that, too.

Copyright 2015 Pat Snyder





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Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

$(KGrHqN,!lEE2ETsMqzrBNkjyuzno!~~0_12It’s hard to admit this, but with so many worthier things to grieve,  I’m  feeling sad about the loss of my food processor. Big Oskar’s death after a 20-plus year run has precipitated a major time management crisis.

In the beginning, he was my personal protest against the Cuisinart, which was so expensive that I would have given myself a life sentence to a paring knife. Cheap, easy to clean and easy to run, he outlived the company that made him (Sunbeam) by several years and would still be chopping onions in record time if I hadn’t dropped his lid.

His death has prompted an eBay obsession, as I scour the listings for a replacement. I gleefully ordered one, only to find that the $20 bargain was in fact his little brother, the Oskar Jr., the two-cup model that my mother used to own. Using an Oskar Jr. to cook for a crowd is like mowing an acre with a hand mower.

In desperation, I’ve tried Black & Decker’s bargain Cuisinart clone, which takes 20 minutes to unlock, another 20 to clean, and has blades so wicked that I keep my health care power of attorney right by the instruction book.

Hopefully, someone soon will clean out a parent’s basement, find a Big Oskar sleeping in the corner, and put “this old thing” up for bid. Meanwhile, I’m joining the simplification movement and attacking those veggies with a paring knife. It frees up time for eBay.

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What Would Julie Do: Managing Time and Twitter

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

I waved my hand wildly from my teleseminar seat and punched in the toll-free number. Ta-dah! As Julie Morgenstern’s first caller Thursday night, I got the lowdown on how she’d apply time management principles to social networking. Very carefully, it seems.

The time management guru said we should be mindful and proactive with social networking tools. “Plan your time as if you were going to a social club,” she said. “Decide when you’re going and for how long. Don’t do it mindlessly. Don’t do it without boundaries.”

Sounds good. Her advice is certainly consistent with the time management principle that we need to be proactive, not reactive, when we plan our time. Jumping to every tweet could be like living next to a tree of chirping, gossipy birds, like this flock of pink galahs. I hear their ruckus is overwhelming.

But can proactive time management really work in the new world of Twitter? Anyone?

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Social Networking and the Law of Distraction

Sunday, January 11th, 2009


Life is weird. My last post was about the value of vision boards and the Law of Attraction. My last column was about how I was setting out to make 1,000 online friends via social networking to promote my upcoming book, The Dog Ate My Planner.

Suddenly, I’ve been sucked into the Law of Distraction. Oops. Hard to keep focus on my vision board when I’m adding contacts, answering or sending (or trying to) tweets, reading what someone’s posted on my Facebook wall.

Tuesday evening, I’m attending a seminar (online, of course) with Julie Morgenstern, who’s known for her time management/organizing books, including Never Check Email in the Morning.

Any questions you’d like me to ask her about how to keep focus with social networking in your life? Or have you already got your tweets under control?

Please share away!

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