Don't Break the Chain & Bedtime Routines

June 2021 - Evergreen Thoughts

My Month in 5 Bullets

  • 🙂 Saw a ton of friends for the first time in way too long

  • 🎟 Had an exciting month at work #SeatGeekIsBack

  • 🎧 Rekindled my love for mashups and matcha

  • 🛠 Built a new personal website (thread)

  • 📚 Got into audiobooks (Libby FTW)


The Seinfeld Strategy

As mentioned ad nauseam at this point, I’ve been languishing. This month I focused on getting out of this funk and deployed a battle-tested tactic to help: The Seinfeld Strategy.

Popularized by a Life Hacker article, it’s the technique Jerry Seinfeld used to create a writing habit. From a conversation the author had with Seinfeld:

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.

This tactic is a great way to build new habits and help you achieve your goals. I first came across it in James Clear’s excellent book, Atomic Habits. He provides a handy Habit Tracker template.

This month, I used the “Don’t Break the Chain” mantra and the above template to kickstart a handful of healthy habits. My specifics goals:

  • 🚶‍♂️ Morning Walk: Go for a 15m+ walk first things every morning, rain or shine

  • 🏆 Activity Goal: Hit my Oura ring activity goal 6 out of 7 days each week [1]

  • 🍎 No Dessert: Indulge in unhealthy desserts no more than 2x per week

  • 💪 Workout: Med to high intensity workout 4x+ per week (run, bike, or HIIT)

  • 😴 Early to Bed: Be in bed by 10:30pm on weeknights

While I didn’t hit ALL my goals [2], I came pretty damn close:

Interested in giving it a go? If so, here are some recs:

  • 🗓 Use James Clear’s Habit Tracker: No need to reinvent the wheel

  • 🖨 Print it out: It makes it more tangible easier to keep it top of mind

  • 🧠 Keep it top of mind: Hang it somewhere prominent like on your fridge or desk

  • 🙅‍♂️ Never miss twice: Make a commitment not to miss two days in a row

I’m feeling a lot more energized and motivated. While the nice weather, new CDC guidelines, and being able see friends have likely all played a big part, there is no question that the Seinfeld Strategy has played a meaningful role as well.

[1] I gave myself 1 day off b/c it’s important to rest and recover, and it’s harder to hit my goal on days when I don’t workout.

[2] My custom habit tracking notation: If my weekly goal is still on track I mark the day with an X. If I don’t do a habit on a particular day, I mark that day with a circle. I use the “—” to signify freebie days (e.g. weekends when my goal is only to do something during weeknights).


Pre-Bedtime Routines

I believe the three pillars of physical health are sleep, nutrition, and exercise. I feel pretty good about my nutrition and exercise routines these days. However, the quality of my sleep is not where I’d like it to be.

Historically, I’ve attempted to improve my sleep by optimizing my bedroom environment. Stuff like: wearing an eye mask to minimize light, using a white noise machine or fan to minimize disruptive sounds, and keeping the temperature relatively cool (< 70°F).

I’ve recently switched my attention and experimentation to my pre-bedtime routine. At a high level I’m trying to be more intentional with: 1) how my exposure to light and food timing affects my circadian rhythm and 2) minimizing anything that may keep my mind racing at night (social media, emails, a thought provoking non-fiction book). More specifically, my current ideal routine looks like:

Within 1 hour of waking up:

  • ☀️ 15m walk to get natural light

2+ hours before bedtime:

  • 🍽 No eating

  • 📱 No computer or phone [1]

  • 👓 Blue light glasses (for TV)

  • 💡 Dim lights [2]

  • 🍵 A cup of Calm magnesium supplement

In bed:

  • 🙏 Gratitude journal

  • 📖 Read fiction or a good memoir

I haven’t been diligently following or tracking this routine enough to share results…yet 😈. Stay tuned. In the meantime, you can check out Matteo Franceschetti’s related tweet for additional pre-bedtime routine inspiration.

[1] While the blue light isn’t great, I think the bigger culprit of pre-bedtime computer and phone usage is work or social media related mind stimulation.

[2] We use Hue white ambiance light bulbs to help with this.

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