How to be consistent (Seinfeld Strategy)


“Most people need consistency more than they need intensity” – James Clear

What to do

Turn working on an important task into a chain; then, don’t break that chain.

Why it works

The defining feature of a top performer is consistency. As James Clear writes in a classic article, top performers “show up and deliver day after day while everyone else gets bogged down with the urgencies of daily life and fights a constant battle between procrastination and motivation. While most people get demotivated and off–track after a bad performance, a bad workout, or simply a bad day at work, top performers settle right back into their pattern the next day.”

One example of a top performer is Jerry Seinfeld. He is regarded as one of the “Top 100 Comedians of All-Time” by Comedy Central and co-created Seinfeld, his eponymous sitcom. Critically acclaimed, long-running and wildly popular more than two decades after its finale, that show eventually made him a billionaire in 2024. The secret behind his outstanding productivity and consistency is what is now known as the Seinfeld Strategy.

The origin of that technique is commonly traced back to a conversation Seinfeld had with Brad Isaac, an aspiring comedian. When Isaac asked him for advice, Seinfeld reportedly told him to write comedy every day – and mark each completed day with a big “X” on a wall calendar. “After a few days”, Seinfeld said, “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 is to not break the chain.” Here’s how to use the Seinfeld Strategy in three simple steps.

How to do it

1) Pick an important task that you want to do consistently. This could be exercising, writing, reading, or any other daily practice that might help you personally or professionally. To get you started, here are a couple of professional activities that I’ve been doing (almost) every day for many years: timebox your day around three daily goals (learn more here); spend 60-90 minutes of “deep work” each day on your most important task (here is how); have a shutdown routine to switch from work mode to leisure mode (get a how-to here).

2) Create a visual representation of your progress. Have a place where you mark each day that you complete the task. You can use a physical calendar – like Seinfeld did back in the day – or a digital tool. I opted for the latter and have been using a free app called Productive for many years. On top of providing a visual representation of your streak, the app reminds you to do the task during specific times of the day. There’s also a pro version, but the free one is perfectly fine to get you started with one or a few activities to track.

3) Get started and don’t break the chain. Every day you complete the task, mark that day on your tool of choice. Get a streak going and focus on doing the thing each day, even if it’s just a small amount. The key is to build momentum and develop a habit of consistent action. No time to plan your entire day in advance? Write down your three main goals. Can’t squeeze in a 60-90 minute session of deep work? Go for 15 minutes instead. Too time-stripped for a fully-fledged shutdown routine? Do a final email review to ensure nothing is left that needs your attention that evening.

The Seinfeld Strategy is a simple but effective method for building habits and achieving long-term goals.

Pick a task you want to do consistently; track it visually; get started and don’t lose track. You got this.