If you’ve ever used Snapchat you’ll have seen a little flame icon next to the name of your friends, and the icon is accompanied by a number.
This icon represents the number of days that you and that friend have shared ‘snaps’, ie photos. It’s your Snapstreak.
For those who’ve never used Snapchat, it doesn’t really matter, as the important point of Snapstreaks are that they really gamify the app, encouraging users to keep logging back into the app, and sending a photo (a snap) to a friend, each and every day.
Some users are into the thousands of days, but typically once a Snapstreak gets into double digits there’s a very strong desire to keep the streak going.
It’s the sense of maintaining the streak that is a really powerful tool for being productive and working towards your goal.
Imagine your goal is to write that book that you’ve never got around to so you set yourself the goal of writing 500 words a day. On day one you manage to write 600 words, and then day two this increases to 700, and day three you’re down to 500 but you’ve still hit your goal. Now you’re on a streak and you’re at three days.
Keep the streak going to day four, five, six, seven, and the power of the streak gets stronger. You won’t want to stop the streak and have to start again from zero, so you keep going. Eight, nine, ten. A ten day streak means you’ll have written at least 5000 words. Keep the streak going for the thirty days and you’re 15,000+ words closer to achieving your target of writing a book.
Jadav Payang, from Majuli Island in India started his streak in 1979 but planting a tree on the island every day to try and stop the island eroding away. Over time, he grew a forest.
But it doesn’t need to be writing a book or planting a forest. It could be reading a book (10 pages a day), exercising (20 press ups a day, 10,000 steps a day), eating (less than 2,500 calories a day). Anything you want to achieve that you can break down into repeatable daily tasks so you can start to build up your streak.
A key element to the streak is the visualisation of the length of the streak, so that you understand the consequences of not keeping the streak going today.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld called it ‘The chain’ and his approach was to get a wall calendar that shows the entire year on one page and put it in a really visible place. Then get a big red magic marker pen and for each day that he did the task he was trying to keep doing (writing jokes) he’d put a big red X over that day. After a few days he’d have a “ chain” and the more days he kept the chain going it got longer and longer and the aim then becomes to not break the chain.
You don’t want to see your streak go on for twenty days, with twenty lovely big red crosses marking the progress, only for it to then be followed by one day with no cross.
What do you want to achieve that you can start a streak for today?
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Rob was a professional soccer player, and cinema manager, before moving into software development for 20+years. He was a founding team member at startup Ormsby Street and is now a founding member at Don’t Keep it to Yourself. He writes regularly for Real Business and Business Advice on small business matters. You can find more information at robertdrury.me.