How Jerry Seinfeld & George Carlin inspired my Digital Spring Cleaning
A Desktop in Disarray
Monday morning, 7:30am. The office lights turn on to reveal a bright orange square placed in the center of my computer screen. Knowing that I had left my desk in a rush on Friday & there was a weekend software update for our computers, I suspected that it was something scribbled from our IT guy. As I begrudgingly moved in closer, my fears were confirmed. It was the dreaded post-it reprimand. The message …“Clear the files off your desktop!!”
With the fluorescent post-it stuck on my mind, I paused for a moment and reflected on my weekend. I had to track down a digital family photo for print. A total of 45 minutes elapsed as I fumbled through the scatter-shot files spread throughout four separate devices. It was a truly frustrating way to spend my precious weekend time.
Back at the office, I removed the post-it from my office computer screen and it became clear…I’m digitally disorganized. My desktops are in disarray.
‘Stressed, Tired, Rushed’
When faced with some of the less desirable tasks of adulthood & parenting, the less motivated corners of my psyche offer these procrastinator classics:
- ‘I am too tired’
- ‘I am too stressed’
- ‘I am in a rush’
These statements aren’t mere excuses, but truisms shared by many working families. In the face of the work/home demands and obligations, working parents report a life characterized by feeling significantly ‘stressed, tired, rushed.’ (Click here for an in-depth article).
An unfortunate byproduct of these feelings is that the smaller life matters tend to fall through the cracks, accumulate over time and, eventually, there is a problem. A Monday morning post-it on your computer and/or a misplaced photo hidden somewhere in the digital ether, possibly more.
Concentration Within the Clutter
The clutter created in the wake of a ‘stressed, tired, rushed’ life is not only an inconvenience but a weight on one’s well-being. A study into the influence of disorganization on overall focus and task performance concluded that the presence of clutter in one’s home and work environment led to:
- A shorter attention span
- Poorer performance on tasks
- Less efficient information processing
- Greater irritability
For those interested in the scientific details of the study, click here
Stressed. Tired. Rushed. Clutter at home. Clutter at work. Shorter attention. Less patience. Poorer performance. Ugh.
How does one create more order?!
Laughing in the Face of Adversity
“Laughter & tears are both responses to frustration & exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” – Kurt Vonnegut
I, too, prefer to laugh when faced with adversity. That said, I decided that the first step in my digital cleanse was to binge watch Season 9 of Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.’ But as I typed the legendary comedian’s name into the Google search, an autocompleted suggestion appeared in the list below the search bar. It read, ‘Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret’ and it served as a moment of Zen. Interested to learn the ‘productivity secret,’ I clicked on the link and discovered Jerry’s process.
Jerry Seinfeld, the Maestro of Motivation
Seinfeld’s path to productivity is simple. It involves engaging in a daily activity for a set amount of time. The twist is that you are held accountable for completing the task by way of a game that is tallied on a very visible chart.
To get started Jerry recommends:
- Identifying a task
- Setting an attainable daily time limit for said task
- Printing out a calendar for the month
- Include both the TASK and TIME GOAL in the header
- Placing the calendar in a highly visible location
- Purchasing a RED marker
With the basics in place, you would begin the activity and start playing ‘Don’t Break the Chain.’ Here’s how it works … each day, after completing the activity, you unleash your red marker and place an ‘X’ on your calendar. Day-to-day, as you continue to complete your task, you accumulate more consecutive ‘X’s.’ The goal is to avoid creating a date without an ‘X’ which would break the chain. Long term, action begets action and the task becomes an ongoing habit.
George Carlin, the Oracle of Organization
Seinfeld: What’s the deal with Carlin having a section in the ‘Clean Comedy’ article? Really?!
Me: Well, yes. Really!
You see, while reading about Seinfeld’s method I discovered that Carlin’s creative process was rooted in a system of purposefully filing his notes, observations & articles on his computer. With his organized files & disciplined workflow, Carlin created a space where the art (comedy, writing) emerged from the science (aggregating, cataloging). By thinking about files that he accumulated through the years, he was empowered to make new connections between subject matters & uncover novel observations. And the process produced results! Today, George Carlin is regarded as the most prolific comedian of all time. His life’s work included an astonishing 14 HBO comedy specials, 7 books, 21 comedy albums and 19 movie appearances.
Reflecting on the beginning of his career, George describes how his system got started:
“…my boss told me to write down every idea I get even if I can't use it at the time, and then file it away and have a system for filing it away—because a good idea is of no use to you unless you can find it. And that stuck with me.”
This anecdote inspired me to get my computers in order. All good ideas and family photos, tax documents, estate documents, personal files etc. are useless if they cannot be found. This Spring, I’m committing to following in the footsteps of the funny guys. I have a calendar printed, a red marker in hand, a strategy to organize my computer files in mind and I vow to not break the chain.
An Organizer from Our Office
One of the tools we offer to our clients to bring all their accounts together in one place and get digitally organized is the WMGNA, LLC app. This innovative technology includes a cloud-based, digital ‘Vault’ for secure storage of everything from passports & driver’s licenses to video & audio recordings.
In the spirit of spring cleaning, WMGNA, LLC is offering a 1 month trial of our app & ‘Vault.’ Send your name & preferred email to me here and I’ll send you a link to access your free trial. I’ll even include a blank Seinfeld calendar template!