Getting ready for 2015: resolutions on book-keeping & book-making, the post-it To Do and the Seinfeld “Don’t break the chain” methods … or how to write that damned book!


Last year, I posted a blog with almost this same name—Getting ready for 2014: resolutions on book-keeping and book-making.

I wrote:

We’ve made our resolutions, and one of mine is get to the bottom of the mail in-box three times in the year ahead. Wish me luck.

I’ve gotten fairly good about in-box zero; what I’m not that good at is actually dealing with the emails that I hide away in files with names like “URGENT” “FOLLOW-UP!”

Another resolution is to deliver The Game of Hope ahead of schedule (it’s due December 1). That will take more than luck: that will take constant perseverance!

Bravo! I did manage to do this, sending The Game of Hope to my publisher two days ahead of the due date.

I had other resolutions, of course: keeping my weight down, exercising, etc., which I kept fairly in-line. (I could have done better.)

What I did evolve this year—eventually—were two motivational systems for actually getting things done.

1: The Post-It method

  • My To Do List for the day must fit on a post-it note (and not a big one).
  • Each item should be measurable: i.e. “30 minutes, bookkeeping.”
  • Tasks that are irksome should be introduced in 15-min. chunks. (I.e., said bookkeeping.)

2: The Jerry Seinfeld “Don’t Break the Chain” method

In conjunction with the daily post-it (as well as a more extensive compost-heap of long-term things to do), I’ve started using the Seinfeld method for the one daily task I resist most strongly: exercising. That I’ve finally found a way to actually overcome my resistance is a strong testimonial to the effectiveness of this method.

Here is a snap from my “Don’t Break the Chain” calendar earlier this year:


Every day I do what I’ve promised (30 minutes on the treadmill, in this instance), I colour in the date. The idea is not to have any gaps—and the visual reminder, for me, is strong.

Seinfeld originally suggested this system for writing. (I wrote about using the Seinfeld “Don’t Break the Chain” method in another blog post: A writer’s routine: how many … hours, days, word?) I highly recommend this system if you want to write very day: just make sure that the daily goal you set isn’t overly ambitious. It’s better to write for 30 minutes a day every day, than to attempt 2 hours a day and fail.

“Don’t Break the Chain” calendars

If you’re going to use the Seinfeld method, you need to print out a continuous calendar. Click to download a printable version of this one I created using


Another continuous calendar created by David Seah allows you to make notes:


The Writer’s Store also offers a calendar to print out: here.

I have a system when it comes to writing a draft: I set a goal of about about 1000 words a day and record my progress in a small Moleskine diary. If you are casting about for a way to keep track, consider this Word Tracking Calendar, also by David Seah.

I was amused to find these very old To Do Lists of mine:


The colours were random—they did not signify anything. Note the To Do: “figure out the fax machine.” I never did manage that!

My resolutions this year? To finish The Game of Hope and write a solid first draft of The Princess Problem (the working title of the second Young Adult about Hortense). Also: keep up with daily exercise.

And, of course: in-box zero—but without simply filing away the emails to be answered.