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"The 5 Things That Hold You Back"!

The One Productivity Secret That Could Change Your Life

by Ashley on June 25, 2014 · 15 comments

Happy Wednesday, friends. If you struggle to cross things off your to do list and feel like you waste your time being totally unproductive, you’re going to love this post. My super awesome former client, Holli Moncrieff, is sharing the one productivity secret that completely changed her life!

seinfeld productivity secret

In December of 2012, I made a daring escape.

I fled my cubicle to follow my dreams of being a full-time author.

To pay the bills, I took on freelance work. And more freelance work and more freelance work.

I found it almost impossible to say no. The life of a freelancer is feast or famine. Who knew when the next the job would come?

Unfortunately, I was neglecting my dream of writing fiction full-time—the reason I’d quit my job in the first place.

Client work always came first, and my own writing and marketing got pushed further and further down the list. There never seemed to be enough hours in the day.

Until I discovered Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret.

Seinfeld wanted to be a successful comedian. How does one become a great comedian? By writing jokes. Lots and lots of jokes.

But Seinfeld wasn’t so different from a lot of us. While he said he wanted to be a great comedian, his priorities seemed to be aligned elsewhere. Day after day went by with no new jokes.

He made a deal with himself. He decided he would spend a certain amount of time each day writing new material, no matter what. He bought himself a calendar, hung it in a prominent place, and every time he’d finished his writing for the day, he marked that day with a big red X.

If you stick with this for a few days, you will have a nice row of Xs on your calendar. And something in your mind will start to shift. Once you see how awesome those Xs look, you won’t want to break the chain–for anything.

Why is this important? Remember that old saying, “slow and steady wins the race?” It’s a proverb for a reason. The people who are most successful are consistent–they may take small steps, but they take those small steps everyday, and eventually they get a hell of a lot further than those of us who sprint and rest, rest and sprint.

People have used this trick in a number of different ways. One excellent article suggests choosing three things you’d like to be successful at, and deciding how long you’ll spend working on them each day. Because I was woefully behind in so many things,

I chose four. I decided I wanted to write fiction (one hour), market my writing to larger magazines, agents and editors (one hour), clean (thirty minutes) and exercise (at least 30 minutes) every day.

You’re allowed to take weekends off if you want to. You can even take holidays and sick time. I decided to opt for the weekends off because I figured I’d need the break.

I’ve followed the Seinfeld Secret for forty-seven days, and in that time I have:

– written 41,000 words and finished a novel. I am also close to finishing a novella;

– pitched articles to eleven international magazines, and sent a query letter and synopsis to almost 50 agents and editors;

– cleaned and organized my two-story house; and

– walked 55 miles and burned 9,363 calories. I was even inspired to return to kickboxing, and I’ve been going twice a week.

Before I started this plan, I never seemed to find time for my marketing. I did all right at the writing and exercise components, but I was never consistent. And cleaning? Fuggedaboutit!

Have you heard of the Jerry Seinfeld Productivity Secret? Do you think it could work for you?

As for me, I just hope I can stick with it! It’s doing wonders so far.

DSC_4642Holli Moncrieff is the author of five (hopefully) soon-to-be published novels and over a thousand articles for newspapers and magazines. A muay thai kickboxer, she has found procrastination to be a tougher opponent than anything she’s faced in the ring.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel Gadiel June 25, 2014 at 8:06 am

Such a genius hack! It’s so true that small steps each day will get you where you want to be but I do love the idea of crossing things off that have been done.


Holli June 25, 2014 at 11:01 am

Thanks, Rachel! I find it really does keep me on track. The trick is not taking on too much–the idea is to carve out a bit of time each day that is actually realistic. I may have to scale my plan back a bit in order to keep being successful.


Akirah June 25, 2014 at 9:44 am

This is great! I keep telling myself that I need to do this with writing too. Maybe this is the push I need to do that…

Curious if Holli does her writing at the same time each day…


Holli June 25, 2014 at 11:00 am

Thanks, Akirah. Funny you mention that…trying to write at the same time everyday was one of the things that was holding me back. If something happened that messed with my writing time–like a journalism interview, for instance, I’d think, “Oops…oh well. I guess no writing today. I’ll try again tomorrow.” And you know how that goes.

Now I do my writing everyday, Monday to Friday, and it doesn’t matter when I do it during the day or night, as long as it gets done.


Akirah June 25, 2014 at 1:31 pm

That’s what I was thinking! Thanks so much for responding. This helps a lot.


Holli June 25, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Glad to help! Feel free to friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter if you’d like to continue the conversation. I’ll be happy to cheer you on.


Chris June 25, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I love the idea of slow and steady when it comes to setting goals and following through. I usually try to set too many goals and then have trouble sticking with them. It makes sense to focus on one or two things, but be consistent with them.

Brilliant! Thanks for the insight.


Holli June 26, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Thanks for commenting, Chris. Glad you enjoyed it.


Ashleigh June 26, 2014 at 9:04 pm

When I first heard of this secret, I thought “oh, that’s nice. Maybe I should try it”. Then I promptly did nothing about it.

Hearing it again today has sparked something in me, though. Thanks for bringing this great idea back into my life! I’m off to set out a calendar and a red pen.


Holli June 28, 2014 at 11:11 pm

That’s awesome, Ashleigh! It really works if you stick with it for a while. Good luck!


Katie June 28, 2014 at 1:52 pm

You got so much done, that’s amazing! :) I think I may try this for writing a new piece of content and exercising every day.


Holli June 28, 2014 at 11:12 pm

Awesome, Katie! I’d love to hear how it works for you. So far, it’s made a huge difference in my productivity, and I’m hopeful success will follow.


Tara Newman July 4, 2014 at 7:28 am

This is one of my favorites. It’s so simple but once you break that chain it’s so hard to get back on track.


Holli July 7, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Thanks, Tara. Did you manage to get back on track? It sounds ridiculously simple, but sometimes the best thing to do is just do it. You’ll never regret it.


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