Seinfeld Productivity Myth

1 minute read

I run into the same Seinfeld myth occasionally. The story goes that some lucky guy runs into Jerry Seinfeld after a show and asks him for writing advice. Seinfeld allegedly responds with the following gem:

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.

If someone as successful as Seinfeld uses it, it must work, right?

Only Seinfeld didn’t actually invent that technique. Seinfeld himself denied it in a recent Reddit AMA, going so far as to call the idea “dumb”:

This is hilarious to me, that somehow I am getting credit for making an X on a calendar with the Seinfeld productivity program. It’s the dumbest non-idea that was not mine, but somehow I’m getting credit for it.

So how did this myth get started? As far as I can figure out, this myth was apparently created by Brad Isaac in a post he authored for Lifehacker.

In the article, Isaac apparently claims to have met Seinfeld and received this now-lgendary bit of advice. I’ll leave it to the reader to form an opinion around Isaac’s motives.

So, next time someone pops this legend on you, point them to this page and politely ask them to stop spreading myths. :)