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Jerry Seinfeld’s Simple Secret to Unbreakable Habits

And make video calls less exhausting

Welcome back to Idle Impact where we're all about sharing practical, life-enhancing tips.

Today, we're taking a page out of Jerry Seinfeld's book (or should we say calendar) and exploring a simple yet powerful habit-building technique.

Plus, we've got a tip to make your video calls a little less exhausting. Let's dive in!

Jerry Seinfeld has got a thing for chains 😆 

HABITS | MOTIVATION | DISCIPLINE

Seinfeld’s advice on starting and sticking with a habit

You might have heard of Jerry Seinfeld, a famous comedian who created and starred in one of the most popular sitcoms of all time.

What’s his secret? Is he just naturally talented?

Actually, Seinfeld attributes a large part of his success to sticking with one habit: writing jokes every single day.

It didn’t matter if the jokes sucked, he continued to write at least one joke every day.

He also had a powerful tactic to stick with his daily habit even when he didn’t ‘feel like it’:

After every day Jerry Seinfeld wrote a joke, he drew a large X on his paper calendar.

Marking his calendar day after day kept him committed, and he made sure not to break the chain.

Since then, many other (successful) people have also borrowed this tactic.

Here’s how you can start your own habit chain:

  1. Set a specific and realistic goal.

  2. Each time you hit the goal, draw a large red ‘X’ on the calendar.

  3. Focus on accomplishing the goal each and every day.

  4. Don’t break the chain!

How satisfying it is to build and see a long chain of X’s

This approach is extremely useful for several reasons.

First, our brains view marking an X every day as an accomplishment, releasing the feel-good chemical dopamine. In turn, this gives us a sense of satisfaction and further reinforces the habit.

Humans also dread loss. Imagine breaking your streak - it feels like losing something, and that's exactly what drives us to keep the chain going.

Maintaining a streak encourages us to take small steps each day, and to focus on the process rather than results.

Essentially, its success lies in the principles of consistency and the "compound interest" of daily actions.

Here’s some additional advice for starting and sticking to a habit streak:

  • Think about the major goal you want to achieve - you’ll gain a better idea of which smaller task(s) you can complete daily to reinforce this goal.

  • Limit the number of tasks - it’s best to only focus on 1-3 tasks at a time in order to avoid being overwhelmed.

  • Use a physical calendar - I personally think nothing beats the feeling of drawing a large X on a ‘real’ calendar. However, an app also works great as well!

Now’s your chance to start that habit you always wanted, so get your calendar streak on, and don’t break the chain!

WORK | COMMUNICATION | WELL-BEING

Turn off self-view on video calls

We can all agree that COVID-19 changed a lot of things.

For one thing, there’s been a surge in video calls and its partner, ‘zoom fatigue’ which is no joke.

So, how can you make those calls just a little more pleasant?

Try turning off your self-view during video calls.

While you may enjoy looking at yourself (or not), most people can’t help but stare at themselves during video calls.

This causes distraction and even anxiety.

This might not be as much about narcissism as it is about being self-conscious.

For example, people often worry, 'How do I look to others?' to the point where it can cause distress and fatigue.

As a remedy, studies have shown that turning off self-view helps people be more engaged and focused during calls.1

If you want to turn off self-view but don’t know how check out these guides for some of the most popular video conferencing tools:

All in all, online calls can sometimes be extremely draining. Do yourself a favor and turn off the self-view - it can make your meetings that much more bearable.

And that's a wrap for this edition of Idle Impact! We hope these tips help you build strong habits and make your video calls a bit more bearable.

Any suggestions? What other life hacks or productivity tips would you like us to cover in future newsletters? Let us know at [email protected].

Remember, small changes can lead to big impacts. See you soon!

- Kevin and the Idle Impact Team

Dive deeper with recommended reads:

  • Don’t break the chain

  • Turn off self-view

    • Article about how to recognize and alleviate zoom fatigue

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