The Ultimate Time Management Hack that Took Me 5 Years to Create – Part 2

Here’s what happened last time on ExcelShir in case you missed it:
The Ultimate Time Management Hack that Took Me 5 Years to Create – Part 1

And now, the conclusion…

4. Medium Focus Time (4MFT)

What is 4MFT?

I realize the word “medium” can be very subjective, so for me it means time in which I’m not quite as focused as I am in the morning, but I’ve still got some pep left in my step. The trick to keeping productivity and focus up during this time is to shift gears and work on something different than I did in the morning. What can I say? I crave variety.

Where does 4MFT usually take place?

This almost always takes place at home. Occasionally I’ll be out and about and have the ability to stay somewhat focused in a cafe or bookstore. This is the exception though, not the rule.

When does 4MFT typically occur?

After lunch and meditation (here’s why I meditate every day by the way), which is usually between 3-5 pm, give or take an hour. 4MFT usually doesn’t last for longer than 2 hours.

Which activities are good examples for 4MFT?

  • Anything that I didn’t finish during my 1NET Time but the deadline is fast approaching… like blog editing for example. Ahem.
  • Prospect list research. Not the rote work of finding company names, contact names and email addresses. I’m talking about crafting a customized email pitch for each of them specifically. More on that in a future post.
  • Preparing for lessons with 1-on-1 Excel training clients.
  • A more enjoyable work project (something that I’m excited about, like dashboards).
  • If I have nothing pressing, than sometimes I’ll work on my own personal Excel projects during this time. Yes, I spend some of my free time with Excel. I’m hardcore like that.

5. High Focus Time (5HFT)

What is 5HFT?

Ah the moment you’ve all been waiting for. The Creme de la creme of productivity. To me, High Focus Time feels like the scene where Neo sees the matrix, or John Nash cracks the codes during “A Beautiful Mind.”

This may sound silly, but sometimes I actually feel superhuman. After all, I am experiencing “flow.” You know, the enchanted garden of productivity and full immersion where time seems to vanish. I learned about it through Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work.

The sad thing is that most people only stumble upon this sweet nectar of productivity by accident. I on the other hand, engineer this “flow” 3-5 times per week. Usually for 90 minutes. I know this because I log my time using the OfficeTime App, and use the free online tool e.ggtimer (props to Tim Ferris for suggesting it). Anything worked past the initial 90 minutes is a pure bonus. If I’m on a roll, I’ll keep going. If not, I’ll stop there and won’t feel guilty. Sounds like a win-win scenario if there ever was one.

Where does 5HFT usually take place?

At home. Period. I have yet to experience this anywhere else. I’ve got my comfy chair, Pandora One, my bottle of water (gotta stay hydrated!), and natural light pouring into my room. There are no distractions, no need to chit chat with co-workers to be polite, and no emails to check. The only way to reach me is through a phone call or text. Even then I only check to see if it’s an emergency, and answer only if it is. In case you couldn’t tell, I am extremely vigilant about keeping this time undisturbed!

When does 5HFT typically occur?

After breakfast. Usually from about 12-2 pm. Some days I can go for longer than others. I have noticed that it is extremely rare for me to be able to focus as well at any other time of day.

Which activities are good examples for 5HFT?

All the super important, creative work gets done here. For example:

  • Paid client work like dashboards, or one of my current projects such as Beyond Tells
  • Client communications that involve sales concepts or strategic thinking on my part
  • Curriculum development, filming, or pretty much any kind of work on my online Excel classes
  • Important brainstorming of any kind

Basically I’ll go down my list of WIGs and work on those first during this time. This is another reason why it’s helpful to recite my WIGs out loud every day, right before starting High Focus Time.

Whew! You made it through all 5 time contexts. Congrats! 🙂

So what does classifying time into these 5 contexts actually DO for me?

Well, for starters I become very familiar with which type of work requires which type of time context. This enables me to make startlingly accurate predictions of how much I can accomplish per week. More importantly however, I’m able to optimize my productivity system and see where the weak points are. It helps me use the right tool for the right job, or in this case, work on tasks that are ideal for the time context that I am currently in.

How do I do that exactly?

It involves 2 completely separate processes:

  1. Assigning new tasks to the appropriate time context
  2. Choosing which task to work on, given a specific time context

The key to assigning new tasks is to always go for the lowest possible mentally challenging time. Here’s the algorithm I follow:

  • Can this task be done in 1NET Time? If yes, assign it to 1NET.
  • If not, can it be done in 2MCT? If yes, assign it to 2MCT.
  • If not, can it be done in 3LFT? If yes, assign it to 3MCT.
  • If not, can it be done in 4MFT? If yes, assign it to 4MFT.
  • If not, can it be done in 5HFT? If yes, assign it to 5HFT.
  • If not, re-evaluate your time classification system, and consider creating a new classification altogether.

In Excel, it would look like a Nested If formula:

IF("Task"="4MFT","4MFT",IF("Task"="5HFT","5HFT","Re-evaluate System")))))

In English, all I’m doing is striving for the minimum level of focus required for each task. Only the tasks that absolutely must have super creative focus should be attempted during 5HFT. Otherwise I am sub-optimizing my most valuable asset.

Think of it another way. When you are cooking a stew you don’t chop all the vegetables first and only then turn on the stove to boil the water.

Such a rookie mistake!

Instead, you heat up the water first, and THEN start chopping vegetables. That way, by the time you are done chopping, the water is already boiling.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

As for deciding which task to work on, given a specific time context, here’s the algorithm that I use:

  • 5HFT – Begin 5HFT tasks first. Only if all 5HFT tasks are complete move on to 4MFT.*
  • 4MFT – Begin 4MFT tasks first. Only if all 4MFT tasks are complete move on to 3LFT.
  • 3LFT – Begin 3LFT tasks first. If all 3LFT tasks are complete consider attempting 2MCT or 1NET, but most likely just take a break or stop doing work because you probably won’t be able to focus anyway.
  • 2MCT – Begin 2MCT tasks first. Only if all 2MCT tasks are complete consider moving on to 4MFT or even 5HFT (depending on how focused you feel).
  • 1NET – Begin 1NET first. Only if all 1NET tasks are complete consider moving on to 3LFT or possibly 4MFT if at a cafe or somewhere quiet.

*Note: When the thought of a particular 5HFT task makes me cringe and I don’t think I can do a good job of it, I move on to the next task immediately. It would be a fool’s errand to try and force it. Instead, I choose the next highest priority item that I DO feel like working on.

Pro Tip: Go easy on yourself

A prime example of this is to notice if and when you are slipping from High Focus Time (5HFT) into Medium Focus Time (4MFT), or even to Low Focus Time (3LFT).

In fact, several times while writing this blog post I stopped in the middle because I realized I was losing focus.

In the past, I used to get really angry and disappointed in myself. But now, thanks to my personal daily affirmations, I smile and move on to another task, or take a break altogether. I can’t even begin to tell you how beneficial this has been to my productivity, sanity, and overall happiness.

Remember that it’s not just you. Everyone experiences these fluctuations in mood and productivity. In fact, according to Pauline Kehm the brain can only stay focused for 90 minutes at a time. I learned that during her fantastic mind mapping class. More on Mind Mapping in a future post though.

Have I tickled your curiosity?

Do you want to create your own time classification system? Here are some questions to get you started:

  • When are you most productive?
  • Where are you most productive?
  • How long can you stay focused on 1 task before getting distracted?
  • What tasks can you get done during NET Time (No Extra Time)?
  • Define your most productive time, medium productive time, and low productive time.
  • Create a list of common tasks that would be best suited for each of those time slots. Think about your physical location/environment too.

Final words of wisdom

No system is perfect. I don’t always stick to the schedule, and you know what?

That’s okay!

The point is to become more aware of your own habits and stop dilly dallying. Put another way: get more done, in less time, with less effort. Go with the flow of your own body and mind. Don’t swim upstream.

In other words…

“be like the tuna, not the salmon”

Thanks Jerry Seinfeld!

P.S. In the meantime, please enjoy a
Free 1-Page Cheat Sheet of All 5 Time Contexts

The Ultimate Time Management Hack that Took Me 5 Years to Create – Part 1

You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again:

Time is our most valuable resource.

No matter who you are, how many resources you have, or what you are doing with your life, we all share the same 24 hours in the day. There is no escape from this fundamental truth. At least, not in the foreseeable future.

Given that sobering realization, there are 2 ways we can deal with this:

  1. Complain about it and continue using it as an excuse to not get things done. (*Ahem* I used to do this all the time)
  2. Acknowledge it and make a conscious choice to measure, analyze, and optimize our lives to get more done in the limited amount of time that we have left.

Since there are quite a few things I want to get done in this life (like this for example), I choose the 2nd option.

If you chose option 1, I strongly encourage you to STOP reading this post immediately. It might shake your belief system to the core, and it doesn’t sound like you’re quite ready for that. Instead, check out the latest viral video on

On the other hand, if you chose option 2, grab yourself a healthy snack (carrots anyone?), because the next few blog posts will bring you one step closer to time management nirvana.

But before we Peter Pan our way off the cliff, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.

Not All Time is Created Equal

This is important, so I’ll say it again.

Not all time is created equal.

Things like mood, time of day, environment, and other external factors have the power to impact the quality of our experiences, in a very big way.

To help illustrate this point, I am going to share with you the 5 classifications I have created to describe the different time contexts that I experience.


Let’s do this!

1. No Extra Time (1NET)

What is 1NET?

I first learned about this concept from Tony Robbins. As far as I understand it (and please correct me if I’m wrong Tony), it essentially involves optimizing an activity you are already engaged in to include an additional activity (or activities) to get more done in the same amount of time.

For example, here you can see Tony walking on a treadmill while answering emails. The point is, he’s already going to be answering emails, why not also walk and get some exercise in the process?

Another example is listening to audiobooks while on your daily commute. I do this all the time by the way, and am undoubtedly a happier, smarter man as a result. Thanks for the suggestion Tony!

Where does 1NET usually take place?

  • Subways
  • Waiting in long lines
  • Doctors appointments
  • Cafes downtown (if a meeting got cancelled and I already left my apartment)

Note: short waits in lines are not ideal for getting much work done, because by the time I get in “the zone” the wait is over and I have to stop what I’m doing. However, those short waits are perfect for my daily tracking activities (like my Diet Log and Life Balance Log), since they are very modular and don’t require a lot of thinking.

When does 1NET typically occur?

This is by far the most flexible aspect of NET time, which is what makes it so powerful. It can literally happen at ANY MOMENT. For example, on some days 1NET will occur in the afternoon while on the way to a client meeting. On other days, I’ll find myself in 1NET later in the evening. Which begs the question…

How can you tell when you’ve slipped into NET time?

It’s quite simple really. You’ll probably start to feel bored, or find yourself checking your phone for the 3rd time in a row, only to find that “no new emails” have arrived. In other words, you aren’t doing anything useful, but you could be. Make sense?

Which activities are good examples for 1NET?

2. Morning Coffee Time (2MCT)

What is 2MCT?

Alright, so the cat’s out of the bag. I’m a coffee person. That means every morning, like so many others in the developed world, I fill a Cup O’ Joe, and start the day with a little extra dose of caffeine. It should come as no surprise then, that 2MCT refers to that sacred time after waking up and before “officially” starting my day. Yes, for me the ritual itself is sacred. Don’t believe me? Look at Mariel Hemingway’s tweet in response to my post.

What’s important to note here is that I do this every morning anyway. This makes it very similar to 1NET, except for 2 key differences: 1) I am usually even more focused than during 1NET, and 2) I am always on my computer while having coffee. After all, with 1NET I am usually out and about, working from my smart phone. Nostalgia moment: Remember when the only thing you could do with your phone was make a call? *Sigh*

Where does 2MCT usually take place?

Fortunately for me, 99% of the time I am not rushing out of my apartment in the morning. This is just one of the many perks of being self-employed and not being a slave to the 9-5 culture! Because of this, 2MCT takes place in my kitchen, and I rarely ever skip it.

When does 2MCT typically occur?

About 10:00 am – 11:30 am. Why so long? Because I’m also having breakfast! And as you’ll soon discover, I’m also getting a lot of work done.

So 😛

Which activities are good examples for 2MCT?

  • Checking personal finances
  • Recording earnings in my freelancer earning log from the previous day (my longest-running and most useful Excel tool I’ve ever created)
  • Re-categorizing transactions in (the best free way to manage your personal finances. And they didn’t even pay me to say that!)
  • Answering emails that I’ve marked as “Requires Action” (more on that in my post How I Reach Inbox Zero in Under 5 Minutes Every Day)

3. Low Focus Time (3LFT)

What is 3LFT?

This should be pretty self explanatory. During Low Focus Time I cannot engage in complex, creative, or cognitively-driven activities. In other words, I can’t focus very well. Thank you captain obvious.

Where does 3LFT usually take place?

95% of the time this takes place at home, but every once in a while I’ll be out at a cafe at night with my computer, and it happens there. Thanks for making that possible NYC!

When does 3LFT typically occur?

No matter how much I’ve tried to fight it over the years, after the sun goes down, my productivity takes an absolute nose dive. Interestingly enough, even if the sun is still up (as it is in the summer months) I still lose my ability to focus after 5 or 6 pm. There have even been times when I’m unable to focus during the day because I’m pre-occupied or excited about something else. In other words, Low Focus Time can creep up on you when you least expect it.

Which activities are good examples for 3LFT?

  • If I have any sort of manual repetitive task (of which there are very few in my life to begin with), this is the perfect time for it
  • Video editing for my online classes
  • Creating prospect lists for my Excel Dashboard Services (the world of information dashboards will never be the same!)

Tune in next time when we review the last 2 time contexts.

And yes, I am saving the best for last.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this parting thought, inspired by Bassam Tarazi’s blog post The Lie Behind Carpe Diem:

“Don’t live everyday like it was your last. Instead, seize at least one moment, daily.”

What moment will you seize today?

How Missing a Deadline Improved My Performance

If you read this blog, and clearly you do, you probably noticed that I didn’t publish a blog post last week *gasp.*

“But Shir, you’re such a stickler for habits, and for following through on your commitments, blah blah yada yada.”

That all may be true.


And this is a particularly large however…

It’s not worth beating myself up over.

Why? I’ll tell you why. In the only way I know how: a bulleted list!

But first, a little context…

Usually I write a first draft of a new blog post early in the week, and then spend the rest of the week revising it. That’s right kids, that means blog posts typically go through 3-5 versions before they ever see the light of day. How’s that for quality control? More on the process of how I write my blog in a future blog post. Is that meta enough for you?

So there I was last week, on Friday afternoon, with 3 first drafts for different blog posts. I didn’t plan it that way, it’s just what ended up happening when I tried writing about the topic of time tracking.

This presented a dilemma. Do I struggle to get one of these posts finished and published, or do I skip a week? Here’s a glimpse into my thought process, which ultimately led to my decision to skip a week.

Reasons to NOT beat myself up:

  • Ouch. No thanks.
  • It’s not that I haven’t been working. In fact, I spent 2 hours 22 min on my blog last week. Yeah, I track that shit. More on that in the coming weeks.
  • I don’t work for someone else, so there isn’t actually a hard deadline to meet.
  • I refuse to sacrifice quality. In order to publish one of my posts last week, I would have had to force myself to get a “fresh” perspective and edit one of them on the spot. But I wasn’t fresh at all. I was burnt out for the day. You see the problem? No? Write a blog for 6 months and then you will :).
  • I refuse to stress myself out unnecessarily. What a wonderful life decision this has been by the way. Try it.
  • One of my top priorities was not losing the habit of working on my blog. And since that’s exactly what I did this week, I was in the clear!
  • I need to reward (not punish) myself for getting inspired and deviating from the standard structure. After all, this is what leads to innovation and growth. I’m particularly proud of the concepts I’m about to discuss in these next few blog posts. This “deviation” is now directly responsible for 4 distinct (dare I say awesome?) blog posts. Take that status quo!

If all that wasn’t enough (ahem, it was), it was way more important that I prepared for my weekly meeting with Georges in just a few short hours from the time of this critical decision. I wanted to get his feedback on a new client proposal, because he’s really good at that sort of thing. More on the fruits of that particular labor in a future post.

And not that I’m looking for excuses or justifications, but I think it’s only fair to mention that I was a little sick last week too. I am happy to report that I successfully warded off whatever illness was trying to infiltrate my body, by sleeping in for a few days. There’s no doubt that doing so cut into my productive hours. The alternative however, was to be physically awake for more hours, feel like crap, not be able to focus anyway, and then feel guilty, and stay sick longer. And who does that help, huh?

Plus, let’s not forget that last week was Thanksgiving, which meant 1.5 days of food prep, and then the evening feast of Thanksgiving itself. Overall I lost at least 6 hours of work time.

Not to sound like ungrateful or anything. After all, this is the holiday of being grateful. Plus it only happens once a year, and I will look back at these so called “mundane moments” with the utmost fondness and nostalgia, especially when I’m on my death bed. I don’t mean to sound morbid either. I see these moments as blessings, which I am extraordinarily grateful for. More on gratitude in a future post :).

What about you?

Think of a time when you struggled to meet a deadline. What did you sacrifice in order to meet it?

Now let’s add another wrinkle into the fabric of that question. And answer honestly. Would you have been disciplined enough to not meet the deadline and still finish the project on your own? Would it have been better or worse as a result?

The more we know ourselves, the more we can optimize our time, energy, and contribution to the world during our limited time on this planet.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

The Rise and Fall of my Intention Log

Every once in a while I start a new self-tracking habit that doesn’t quite work out for one reason or another. This post is dedicated to one such endeavor: the “Intention Log” which began on 9/29/13.

My Intention Log was directly inspired by Mariel Hemingway (yes, the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway). I saw her interview with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday.

I particularly enjoyed her interview because she shared her personal stories of how she overcame her struggles. She voiced her vulnerabilities, which, according to Brené Brown is a really good thing. More on vulnerability in a future post….

At one point she mentioned something about rituals, and how her morning ritual of making tea is sacred to her (watch an excerpt from the interview here). Ever since then I’ve really enjoyed my morning ritual of having coffee in the kitchen while answering emails.

It’s funny, but I used to think of ways I could automate the coffee brewing process, kind of like Doc Brown from Back to the future and the dog food. But ever since that episode of Super Soul Sunday I’ve actually really enjoyed making it all by myself.

I know, I’m so grown up.

Back to Mariel (sounds like a great 70’s sitcom right?)

Another thing she mentioned was how every night before going to bed she would set an intention for the next day. I really liked that idea. And since I had already created the habit of creating new habits (more on that in my pioneer post New Habits), I decided to see what all the hullabaloo was about and give it a shot for myself.

I created a new outline in my CarbonFin Outliner account and began writing intentions for the next day. Of course, I also added a task in my ToDo app and set the repeat interval to “daily.”

To bring the abstract into the concrete, here’s an example of an early entry:

  • Add value to [censored client name]’s life
  • Brighten everyone’s day at Blake’s office and improve their workflow by enhancing the Beyond Tells excel tool
  • Bring smile to people’s faces
  • Feel love for everything and everyone, and spread that with others

As you can see, I wasn’t sure how broad or specific to go. After all, what is an intention, really? Instead of investigating this question further, I just did whatever came naturally to me. At first it only took me a minute or two to jot down my intention and then just go to sleep.

And then a few things happened…

First I noticed that it was taking me longer and longer to come up with my intentions.

Here’s an example of a later entry:

  • Wake up feeling rested and full of joy
  • Have a remarkably productive day and be damn proud of it

Believe it or not that took me a while to come up with. Not because it’s so incredibly complex, but because I was trying to find a balance between broad/specific, and abstract/tangible.

Secondly, and here’s the real kicker, I noticed that I didn’t feel any better as a result of writing these intentions. Especially when I compare that to the effect mediation had on me. I didn’t find myself thinking about my intentions during the day, and I didn’t feel any more grateful or happy as a result of having recorded them the night before.

So just like that, on 11/6/13, just 38 days after beginning, I stopped cold turkey. Not to be confused with hot turkey, which I’ll be having next week for Thanksgiving. Mmmm….

So what did I learn here?

It’s great to be open to trying new things, since that’s how I began self tracking in the first place. However, it’s also super important to pay attention to when things do NOT work out.

It actually reminds me of the Lean Startup methodology. Fail early, and fail often (and if at all possible, learn from those mistakes). It’s funny, but even though I’ve heard so much about Lean Startup methodology and framework by Eric Ries I still haven’t read it. Perhaps it’s a whisper that I should take the time to actually read it?

So yeah, even though this intention log was… wait for it… well intentioned (badam ching!), I decided to abandon ship after only 38 days. To not do so would mean going down with the ship just for the sake of saying that I didn’t quit.

No thanks, I’ll choose activities that add value to my life instead 🙂

What have you tried recently that fell flat on its face? How long did it take you to realize things weren’t working and stop? Don’t forget to share your story (or a small excerpt of it) in the comments.

Accountability Partner: You Don’t Have One? Get One!

Last week we discussed how joining a group and sharing your personal goals can catapult your effectiveness into the stratosphere: Collective Inspiration, Meet Personal Accountability.

This week I will share some of the specific benefits of meeting with my accountability partner Georges Janin, every week since December 2, 2012.

So how did it come to pass you might ask?

I see it as a series of fortunate events (not to be confused with Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events).

I accepted a commission-only sales position for Your Office Agent in Dec 2011, and proceeded to spend about 4 months, and well over 100 hours, to earn a big fat $ZILCH in commission. For those of you who aren’t math wizards… this wasn’t exactly the best use of my time.

In reality, I have nobody to blame but myself. And as I’m sure you’ve already deciphered, it actually worked out for the best anyway. #woot

So there I was, in a position of selling temporary real estate solutions to small-medium sized businesses in NYC. I needed to improve my selling skills. And fast. Luckily (or was it fate?), I stumbled upon a Skillshare class taught by Georges Janin called “The Art of the Cold Call” and enrolled on 2/8/12.

After the class, I distinctly remember thinking “Now here’s a guy who is not only really good at his craft, but also genuinely enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise with other people.”

Curiosity = Piqued

A few weeks later, a multi-session sales course offered by Georges found its way into my inbox. I signed up immediately. A few days before the course was scheduled to begin however, I received the following email from Georges:

(And by the way, notice the stellar customer service skills he exhibits here. It still amazes me how the overwhelming majority of businesses get this part so shamefully wrong, so take notes!)

“I wanted to update you on the Art of the Sale. A few large developments have taken place on my end…. Because of that I am not going to do the Art of the Sale at least for now. Sorry about that.

There are 2 options for you. I can:

-Refund you. Which I can do in a click.
-Do a 1-1 Sales Course that would take place over a 4 hour period and would be specific to your business. Sort of like the course but accelerated and personalized. We would do it in the next few weeks depending on your schedule.

Just tell me what your preference is and I’ll make it happen!



It was a no-brainer. “Sign me up for option 2 please!”

Fast forward to our first meeting

Georges deconstructed my professional goals, and identified how to best achieve them from a sales perspective. He also had a keen eye and a business savvy that I didn’t see in any of my friends or acquaintances at the time.

Before leaving, he mentioned that he wanted to learn how to salsa dance. How interesting… I just happened to have taught beginner salsa classes for 2 years to over 2,600 people. Why don’t we arrange a little barter? Sales/business training for salsa dance instruction? Let’s just say it was an easy sell :).

For 4 months I taught Georges everything I knew as a Salsa dancer. In exchange, I was getting a unique behind the scenes look into the mind of a sales genius. Georges had a remarkable way of breaking down my ideas and simplifying them. I can’t even begin to quantify how much time and energy he saved me. And you know how much I like to quantify things… haha.

To sum it up, here are some of the benefits of having met every week for the past year:

  • A fresh, outside perspective. Sometimes the solution to a particular challenge was RIGHT in front of me, but I could never see it because I was too close to it. Having someone from the outside who was invested enough in my success has proven to be invaluable, time and time again.
  • Accountability. You better believe that I wasn’t going to show each week NOT having accomplished what I said I would. Ok, so it happened a few times, but it felt really crappy, and I tried extra hard to not let it happen again.
  • Staying on track. I used to be notoriously bad at getting distracted by what Georges and I refer to as “shiny objects” or business opportunities that seem cool, but are actually not at all related to our primary goals. In other words, Major de-railers. Major no-no’s.
  • Fun. It was awesome to talk about what I accomplished each week to someone else who was as motivated as I was to succeed. After all, I couldn’t just talk to my friends for an hour about my business achievements. “That’s great Shir, but can we just enjoy this drink and play another game of shuffleboard?”

If that’s not totally worth it, I don’t know what is.

Want to start your own accountability partner sessions?

I have tried a few others and none have worked quite as well as with Georges. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Get to know each other before beginning sessions. I tried once without knowing the person too well, and I found myself feeling a lack of emotional investment on both our parts. I also didn’t know how to advise them because I didn’t know them well enough.
  • Compatible personalities is essential. If you can’t stand being in the same room together, it ain’t gonna work. Big fat DUH!
  • Similar core values and complimentary talents are a major plus. Both need a strong work ethic, and take self improvement and professional development seriously. It also really helped for example that Georges was really good at sales and I’m really good at staying organized and implementing strategies to stay intrinsically motivated.
  • You absolutely positively MUST respect each other’s time. I cannot stress this point enough. Show up late once and it might be forgivable. Show up late again and I will cut you out of my life so fast it will make your head spin. Is it just me, or is this a major deal-breaker?
  • You both need to be equally driven & dedicated to success. This should go without saying, but you’re simply not going to stick with regular meetings unless you’re both taking it seriously.

So what are you waiting for?

If you already know someone who fits the profile I just described, propose the idea to them. If you don’t, go ahead and sign up for classes or attend seminars/events in your area of interest. I have found speakers/teachers to be excellent candidates for accountability partnerships.

Either way, don’t forget to tell me about it in the comments!

P.S. Here was my inspiration for the title of this post: Toy Story moving buddy quote

The Best 15 Minutes of My Day

On March 11th, 2013 I began the 21 Day Perfect Health Meditation Challenge hosted by Deepak Chopra and Oprah.

Why 21 days? Probably because popular belief dictates that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Apparently this idea originally came from anecdotal evidence in Maxwell Maltz’s self-help book Psycho Cybernetics. Personally I’ve found there to be a good amount of proof in that particular puddin’.

But before I go off on another food tangent… I should probably mention that up until that point in my life, I had never meditated before. Part of me always thought it was a little too woo woo, but I decided to put those feelings aside and give it a shot.

I’m really happy I did

There are many forms of meditation, but what I liked about this one was that it was guided every step of the way. A few words of wisdom in the beginning, and an introduction of the mantra for the day. Then some very soothing music, and a soft bell to indicate that it was time to stop. I felt as though Deepak was holding my hand through the entire process.

Interestingly enough, meditating actually reminded me of something I learned from Sid Efromovich in his happiness workshop. He talks about taking 10 minutes and simply sitting in silence. Not quite the same as meditation, but still very relaxing, and surprisingly helpful. He described it as a disk de-fragging for the mind.

*Geek-out warning!*

For those of you who don’t know, computers store information on spinning discs (a.k.a. hard drives). When new information gets stored it is recorded on different areas of that disc. Later, your computer’s mechanical arm has to move around in order to access it. The more scattered the information, the more inefficient and time consuming the retrieval process becomes.

That is why every so often, it is a good idea to de-frag your hard drive. In other words, taking related information that is currently fragmented in different parts of the disc, and placing them next to each other. Less movement = faster, more efficient data retrieval.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no neurologist…but I believe something similar (at least in concept) might be happening inside my brain. When I sit in silence for 10 minutes a day, it seems to take all the chaotic, disparate elements and organizes, sorts, and brings them closer together for faster, more efficient recall. It also ends up being a nice way to de-clutter my mind.

Pretty cool right?

Back to meditation

I noticed that when I spent those 15 minutes per day meditating, I had an easier time focusing, especially during my prime productive time when working on my Wildly Important Goals (a.k.a. WIGs).

By this point I had already formed a habit of working from about 12-2 pm, eating lunch from about 2-3, and then meditating before going back to work. It helped energize and focus me for that 2nd round of work, which was typically more challenging than the 1st.

A particularly moving meditation session

Duration the first 9 minutes or so of the session (on the topic of breathing), I had a very clear vision of myself in the future.

I was laying in bed, in my high-rise condo in NYC. The one with the fully stocked bar, dance floor, and recording studio that I’ve been dreaming about for years.

On this particular serene Sunday morning, I was next to my gorgeous wife, holding her snugly in my arms. Just as the sun began peaking through the curtains I drew a deep, soothing breath. The recently cleaned apartment left a hint of pine sol in the air, along with a natural freshness created by the assorted plants that I kept near the window sill.

The sun lightly touched her face, and with her eyes half open she gave me the warmest smile I’ve ever seen. In that moment I was overcome with joy and gratitude. I felt very much like Richard Dreyfus’s character in the last scene of Mr. Holland’s Opus, when he is surprised with a school-wide assembly to honor his lifetime of hard work as a music teacher.

After all, my vision was not just some random hallucination. I felt as though I was looking into the future, and that it would only be a matter of time until it would turn into the present. All my hard work, personal and professional growth, overcoming countless setbacks and challenges, would eventually pay off.

Other benefits of meditation

If that wasn’t already enough, here are some other things meditation has done for me:

  • Inspired 4-5 new daily affirmations.
  • Lowered overall level of stress during the day.
  • Improved productivity.
  • Improved quality of sleep (positive correlation of meditation and sleep cycle quality data…more on that in a future post).
  • Increased ability to focus on the present moment, and enjoy every part of it. Overall happiness definitely increased as a result.

This original meditation challenge has become a keystone habit for me (learn more about these habits that start a chain reaction in my post New Habits).

Since then I have already completed 3 other meditation challenges, and am going to finish my 4th today.

So what have you got to lose?

15 minutes of your day? As far as I’m concerned, those 15 minutes allow me to gain back time because I am more productive afterwards as a result.

Check out Deepak Chopra and his library of meditation resources. You’ll be happy you did!

Daily Affirmations: Part 2

Last week we talked about what affirmations are, how they work, and when to say them. We even went through a few examples of some of my earliest affirmations.

This week we’ll get to the really juicy bits: tangible examples of how affirmations helped me.


Let’s dive right in!

In the summer of 2009 I started dating this girl. You know how the story goes…she was smart, funny, adventurous, the whole kit and caboodle. In other words, the kind of girl that would have left me at a loss for words only one year prior.

For a month or so we got to know each other as friends. Make no mistake, I was attracted to her immediately, and the more I got to know her, the feeling only intensified.

So eventually I did the only logical thing I could, which was to ask her out on a date.

When the day finally arrived to take her out, I led her on a scenic hike in Washington Heights (one of Manhattan’s better kept secrets). We found some boulders to sit on, with a spectacular view of the George Washington Bridge and the sun setting behind it.

So there I sat…on the rocks, next to an incredible girl that I was really starting to like, with my blood pressure spiking to unhealthy levels. Part of what made me so nervous was that if I didn’t make a move soon, I would lose my chance with her forever. After all, meekness is not a particularly attractive quality, right? I needed to go in for a kiss.

Right on schedule came my old familiar fears and doubts: “What if she rejects me? What if I scare her away? What if I screw this up?”

But then something incredible happened.

The monkey chatter faded away, and I actually heard one of my affirmations in my head. “I am a powerful, confident man. I know what I want and I go for it.”

I thought “It’s totally fine to feel nervous, because that just means I’m excited and I have a lot riding on this. I got this.”

John Wayne once said: “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”

And saddle up I did.

OK, so that sounded unnecessarily raunchy. But you know what I mean!

The point is, the old Shir would never have been able to stare fear in the face and say “Out of my way!”

The new Shir on the other hand…let’s just say he officially became a badass on that day :).

And now for the 2nd example of affirmations being awesome

Fast forward a year and a half into the future. I was teaching salsa dancing in NYC, and by all accounts, living a rich life. Thanks Ramit for sharing that concept!

The only thing missing was that I wasn’t growing enough professionally. As much as I enjoyed hanging out with my friends, none of them were pushing me to succeed in my career, at least in the way that I was looking for. And you know what they say, you can only go as far as your 5 closest friends. Put another way, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn.

So, I did what anyone would have done with a track record of successful affirmations, and added another one to my list. It was so important to me that I actually put it before all the other ones.

“I am a savvy, successful entrepreneur and I surround myself with others who are better than me.”

About a week after I began saying this, I got an email from Ramit Sethi, who I was already a huge fan of from his personal finance book I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

In his email, he was announcing a new online course called “Earn1K: Earn $1,000 a Month Freelancing.” The price tag was substantial. $1,500 was no laughing matter.

Normally I would have dismissed the offer and said something like “I can’t afford that” or “the timing isn’t right.” However, because I had just begun saying my newest affirmation, I saw it as a sign. Here was a chance to surround myself with other successful entrepreneurs, even if not in physical proximity. The mere exposure to Ramit’s strategies would open my mind to new possibilities.

I decided to take the plunge, and it ended up being the best business decision I have made in my life to date.

In one month I found a computer tutoring client that had an antiquated Excel database desperately in need of an overhaul. Using the new strategies and techniques from Ramit’s Earn1K course, I made a proposal for an initial $2,000 payment to solve the problem. The president of the company took one look at my proposal, and then said “this looks reasonable, let’s do it.”

Within a week, I had a check for the exact amount of $1,000 (you know, the Earn1K per month amount). If that wasn’t a sign, I don’t know what is. I still have a copy of the check hanging on my wall.

What’s even more amazing, is that this one project turned into a 6 month engagement that ended up earning me $70,000. That’s an unprecedented 46 times return on my investment. How’s that for ROI Ramit?

To wrap it up…

Did my affirmation make me $70,000? No.

Did it find this client for me? Not really.

Did it create a frame of mind and a belief system that PREPARED me to identify and seize the opportunity that presented itself? ABSOLUTELY!

One of my favorite quotes is by Louis Pasteur:
“Luck favors the prepared mind.”

And hey, if that’s all affirmations do, than I’m more than happy with that!

Parting thoughts

Already saying affirmations? Share some with us in the comments. Want some affirmations of your own, but not sure how to phrase them? Write down the negative self-talk in the comments and we’ll try and help you phrase an affirmation that addresses it.

P.S. Here are some of my recent affirmations, which I still recite daily. If they resonate with you, please feel free to steal them!

  • I live each day with perfect health, balance, and gratitude.
  • I am a savvy, successful entrepreneur and I surround myself with others who are better than me.
  • I always operate at maximum effectiveness and efficiency.
  • I give everyone uncommon value.
  • All women are extremely attracted to me.
  • I am immune to all physical ailments.
  • I am always expanding my comfort zone.
  • I am a powerful, confident man. I know what I want and I go for it.
  • I am a phenomenal dancer, and women love dancing with me.
  • I always escalate with women I am attracted to.
  • I am always performing at my best.
  • I am remarkably effective in accomplishing my goals.
  • I am compassionate, encouraging, and supportive of myself and others.
  • As I love and honor myself, my relationships blossom.
  • I leave everything and everyone better than I found them.
  • Every moment of every day, I live my life abundantly.

Final note: Don’t get complacent

A potential trap to fall into is staying stuck with the same affirmations. The trick is to identify new negative self chatter as soon as they crop up (and believe me, they always find a way to crop up), and then create a new affirmation that directly addresses it. Another option is to modify existing ones to be more inclusive. The key is to be flexible and adapt as you go.

Daily Affirmations: Part 1

I know what you’re thinking.

“I’m Stuart Smalley. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gawdawnit, people like me!”

I used to think these kinds of skits were harmless, but these days I have a more critical view. If nothing else, I believe this kind of humor helps people dismiss affirmations as being hokey or stupid.

“I don’t need to do that, look how ridiculous it is.”

When all it really does is prevent ourselves from taking such practices seriously. Practices which have shown to enhance performance, and increase problem solving abilities under stress, among other things.

But let me start from the beginning

You may not know this about me, but in high school I was a bit of a strange kid. Sure I had a few friends here and there, but overall I had a very difficult time connecting with my peers.

I think part of it had to do with the fact that I was a very intense person. I would go up to girls that I had crushes on and tell them to their faces “I like you” with all this awkward pressure to respond right away. If you’ve ever been put on the spot like that, you know how uncool that is.

The thing is, I had an unusually high emotional intelligence for my age, but an abysmally low social intelligence. I would explore my own feelings and talk about them openly, but would never stop to think how what I was saying could be interpreted by someone else.

It should come as no surprise then, that I suffered from particularly low self-esteem for many years. No matter what situation I encountered, it would always go through the filter of “I’m not good enough.”

For example, I used to I walk by groups of girls who would start laughing, and I immediately assumed they were laughing at me. They could have been laughing at anything, but it didn’t matter because I only saw the worst case scenario.

After High School

Things got a little better in college, and I even managed to get a girlfriend…somehow. The worst part was that I felt like I didn’t deserve it, and as a result behaved in a very needy way. And nobody likes a Needy Ned (you know, like a Debbie Downer).

After college I knew that if I didn’t take matters into my own hands I would always be at the mercy of my external environment and circumstances. I would have no choice but to settle for any relationship that I could get. In other words, not a particularly exciting future.

Instead of getting a full time corporate job (and partly because the economy was busy taking a nose dive), I proceeded to spend a year working on myself. Exactly what I did during that time is probably the subject of an entirely different post.

In any event, it didn’t take long for me to come across the concept of daily affirmations.

How the affirmations worked

Instead of saying what I wished I had or what type of person I wished I was, I crafted the affirmations such that everything I wanted was already true.

For example, instead of “I want to be someone who feels more confident.” Or “I am not nervous around women I am attracted to,” a better way to say it is “I am a powerful, confident man. I know what I want, and I go for it.”

See the difference?

By being a powerful, confident man who knows what he wants and goes for it, the whole talking to women thing falls into place quite naturally. Not only that, but it covers other areas in my life as well. Like how I negotiated payment on a freelance project. But more on that later.

Another thing to note, is that each affirmation was specifically designed to replace negative thoughts (a.k.a. monkey chatter. You know, the nagging voice in your head that never shuts up).

To give you a better sense, here were some of my original affirmations (from 2008) and the negative chatter they replaced:

  • I always operate at maximum efficiency and effectiveness. (“I am too slow. I read slowly, I think slowly, and everyone else is faster than me.”)
  • I give everyone uncommon value. (“I am nothing special. I have nothing to offer.”)
  • All women are extremely attracted to me. (“Nobody would be attracted to me.”)
  • I am immune to all airborne diseases and viruses. (“I always get sick.”)
  • I am always expanding my comfort zone. (“I am too scared to try new things.”)
  • I am a powerful, confident man; I know what I want and I go for it! (“I am too afraid and meek to do anything.”)
  • I am a phenomenal dancer, and women love to dance with me. (“I can’t dance.”)

Interesting side note: It’s been so long since I’ve thought about the negative self-talk that it all seems so foreign to me now. Yet, at the time I was convinced that each of them was 100% true.

Ridiculous, I know.

When is a good time to say affirmations?

I originally heard that saying it first thing in the morning and last thing before bed is a good approach. However, I am the kind of person who would get really into them and get excited when I say them.

According to Scott Britton’s sleep hacking course on Udemy, that would be counterproductive since my mind would start racing and I would have a more difficult time falling asleep.

That left me with the morning to work with, which worked out pretty well (seeing as how I’m obsessed with dental hygiene and spend an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom). Trust me, $20,000 worth of braces implants, and other dental work would have the same impact on you too.

I began by saying all my affirmations out loud while looking in the mirror, and then repeated them all 4 more times. In addition to saying them out loud, I also took a moment with each one to visualize what it meant to embody the qualities that I was affirming.

I’d love to share 2 examples of how affirmations helped me, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave them for next week…

Don’t you just love cliffhangers?

Excel it Forward

Have you seen the movie Pay it Forward? If you haven’t, go watch it. If you have, watch it again!

The idea is simple. When someone does a good deed, don’t pay it back. Instead, pay it forward to someone else.

In a nutshell, Excel it Forward is the Pay it Forward phenomenon, measured.

Okay great, but what the hell does that mean Shir?

Well, imagine every good deed that you give or receive being recorded into a giant spreadsheet, with the ability to sort and filter by any criteria you want.

Want to see what types of good deeds you performed? Want to see who you helped inspire to start performing good deeds of their own? Where did they spread to geographically? How long did it take for 100 deeds to occur daily?

In my head I’m already seeing this all as an interactive Excel dashboard. And let me tell you, a more beautiful site, I have not seen. (Not sure why I just turned into Yoda for a second there)

I know it’s still very vague, and the truth is, I’m not really sure exactly what Excel it Forward is going to be or what it will look like. Or even, how it’s going to work from a logistical standpoint.

But that’s OK, because contrary to my old belief system, I do not need to have all the answers before getting started.

So how did it come to be?

By this point I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy

In the wake of the tragedy, Ann Curry decided to start a campaign of 26 random acts of kindness. I first found out about it through @ohjefframos’s tweet:

There he links to the Buzzfeed article that originally sparked the idea for Excel it Forward:

I saw this tweet on 12/21/12, which ironically enough was supposed to be “The End of the World” according to the Mayan calendar. Glad that didn’t happen.

My first thought was to hand out 26 Metrocards on the subway, and take a big group photo. But then I thought to myself “OK, that’d be nice, but where would it go from there?”

Something was missing

What if I found a way to be more systematic about it? Cause, you know, I’m a pretty systematic person. (*ahem* understatement of the century)

It would be particularly gnarly (in the good sense of course) to see exactly how the good deeds spread. I envisioned an Excel spreadsheet where I could see how many people I inspired to do good deeds, and then how many people those people inspired, and so on and so forth.

For the first time in human history, we would finally be able to visualize the ripple effect of acts of kindness, in real time.


That’s when things got exciting.

All I would need is a simple, non-obtrusive way to record the act of kindness

It would have been nice to record everything about the deed itself, but that would make the process prohibitively complicated. So, to narrow it down to its most essential elements, all I really needed was: who, when, where, what, and how.

  • Who? Do-Gooder ID, and Referred by ID
  • When? Timestamp (automatically recorded)
  • Where? Location (city, state, country, zip)
  • What? Good deed type
  • How? Good deed description

I also thought about including a picture, since it would be nice to see the deed in some way. After all, that’s how the #26acts was done as well. And you know what they say…

Why put off til next year what you can do today?

The interesting thing about Excel it Forward movement is that I didn’t think I’d be able to start it for at least a few years. I would say to myself:

“I have a lot of different projects going on right now.”

“I want to set the foundation and really get this right, so that when it takes off I’ll be completely ready for it.”

In other words…blah blah excuses blah.

Finally, after talking about it with several people, I decided to take the plunge on June 1st, 2013. I realized I would never be completely ready, and it would never be an ideal time, so why not seize the moment and go for it.

And go for it I did

I did not have a logo. I did not have a comprehensive system in place to record the good deeds. All I did have was a Google form with a few questions:

This linked to the following Google spreadsheet:

I also created a tumblr account, which seemed like a natural choice, because after all, tumblr is a microblogging platform.

My very first good deed was taping a $5 metrocard to an MTA vending machine:

After a few days of using the Google form, which was annoying to fill out on the spot, (and therefore made it less likely for anyone to actually follow through and perform the good deeds…myself included), I decided to streamline the process a bit.

I decided to use, recommended to me by Achievement Architect Ari Meisel. IF This Then That simply automates things on the internet for you, based on the triggers you set. It’s actually quite simple, and remarkably powerful.

I searched high and low for a way to trigger an automatic action using twitter, but there was none to be found. Thankfully I was able to trigger the event using tumblr.

Here is a link to the recipes I use to make it happen:

Excel it Forward frequency

At first I was super dedicated to performing at least 1 good deed every day. And for 2.5 months I did just that. After about 2 months though, I began feeling anxious and stressed at the prospect of coming up with another good deed every day.

That’s when I had a conversation with maymay, where he helped me see that the stress was actually taking away from the genuine nature of the good deed itself. I was becoming more concerned about filling my quota than improving someone else’s life. As soon as that happened, it was defeating the entire purpose of Excel it Forward. Check out the bottom of this post for the unedited notes after my conversation with maymay.

I immediately lifted the requirement on myself to perform a good deed every single day, and allowed myself the flexibility to perform a good deed when the opportunity arose.

The benefit is that there is no more stress associated with it for me, and as a result each deed is more genuine, natural, and ultimately more helpful.

The back end system

Shockingly, at the time of this post I still don’t have a system in place to record other people’s good deeds. I thought of teaching other people how to set up their own tumblr and link it to their twitter, and google spreadsheet using IFTTT. That probably would be too many steps for most people though. Plus I would then have the problem of linking everyone’s disparate spreadsheets together.

After discussing it with Georges Janin the next logical step is to develop a system that captures the good deed using tools that people are already familiar with. The most obvious choice is Twitter. I am very close to creating a system that grabs the latest twitter activity for #excelitforward and adds a row in my spreadsheet with their username, timestamp, and the tweet itself (describing the deed).

As far as I see it, the moral of the story is that things don’t have to be perfect before trying them out and actually taking action. In fact, it’s better to just dive in and adjust as you go.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Final notes

As it stands now, the Excel it Forward website just has the latest 20 deeds as a news feed, and a link to the Google spreadsheet. Eventually I’m going to give clear instructions for anyone to start performing and recording their good deeds.

In the meantime, what do you think of Excel it Forward? Conceptually, philosophically, logistically, I’m always looking for ways to improve. Thanks!

As promised, here are the unedited notes after my conversation with maymay on 8/14/13.

“There’s really no need to do a good deed every day, and by attempting to do so I am actually making the deeds come off as forced and disingenuous. Meitar gave me specific feedback on the “told someone they had a beautiful smile” and said that while he was sure my intention was good, it could have come off as a back handed compliment in a way. Instead of me complimenting someone, it was as if I was complimenting myself for complimenting them. I see that, and even felt something was off about it. But as I told him, and he knew anyway, this is very much a work in progress and I am still experimenting and adjusting constantly.

Then he told me the story of Cleveland Ohio and how the chain of good deeds led up to all the incredible things that happened to him in the past few weeks. They were all so seemingly random and magical, and had one of them not happened the way they did it wouldn’t have led to the next piece. He used the analogy of the Tetris Attack chain combos. You can’t have the last one without all the previous ones. And that’s also what makes the last one so impressive and powerful, is that everything had to be in place perfectly to lead up to that moment.

The real essence of excel it forward isn’t about measuring, he argued. And I agree, nobody cares about measuring good deeds (except for data nerds like me). If anything they feel inauthentic if they are doing it to get measured (and then praised later).

Instead, the focus must be on REMEMBERING the good deeds. Uncovering the stories behind the deeds, and seeing what led up to each one. Seeing how far the chain can go. The other thing he mentioned was the mindset and message is something like “look for good deeds and remain open to them throughout your day, and magical things will happen to you.”

If anything it’s very spiritual and all about the law of attraction and karma. It can’t be forced though, which is precisely what I was doing, and why I was having such a hard time with it lately. I knew it happened for a reason. Even the Hershey kisses idea wasn’t working. They were like “so what.”

Now the pressure is off, I can write about the entire process and evolution of the idea, and the real fun can begin.”

1 Second Everyday

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, how much is a video worth? How about 1 second of video every day for the rest of your life?

Believe it or not, that is exactly what I signed myself up for, as of Jan 14th, 2013. And since I’ve always been a fan of showing, not telling, here is a reel of the first 7 months of my journey.

But first, grab some popcorn and make yourself comfortable.

Pretty cool right?

The app is called 1SE, which stands for 1 Second Everyday. On Jan 14th I met my friend Sid Efromovich, who told me about it. It wasn’t a hard sell for me, seeing as how I started the very same day.

When I describe to people what it’s like for me to watch my reels, I say “it’s like having my life flash before my eyes…only I’m not dying.”

Granted it’s not my entire life, but still. I get to re-live my life in a way that wouldn’t have been possible back in the day, which was a Wednesday by the way (thanks Dane Cook for that little fun fact).

And I know, I’ve done the whole journal thing (in the form of my CANI log), but this is completely different. In just 1 second I am instantly transported back to that moment of my life. Where I was, who I was with, what i was doing, and how I was feeling. It’s nothing short of extraordinary.

Incidentally, this reminds me of the same guidelines as any good improv show. The first thing to do in a scene is establish who you are, where you are, and what you are doing.

Did I mention that I am currently enrolled in Improv 101 at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, and that my graduation show will be on Monday, August 26th at 6:30 pm at the UCB east theater?

Oh? I didn’t? Well now you know 🙂

But I digress…

What I noticed in the first couple days of recording videos, is that I had too many good moments to choose from. It felt like a waste to only use 1 second. Luckily, there’s an option to create an entirely separate “timeline.” I call it my B-Roll. That way, all the major moments are captured in my A-Roll, but for everything else that is still worth remembering, I have a B-Roll. The only challenge is that every day I must take at least 2 videos.

So how did it go down…?

At first I tried to plan out in advance when to take the videos. There’s even a built-in reminder system within the 1SE App to help you with this. Sometimes I would not check my phone at the right time though, and then I would have to take less exciting videos of my ride home or something. After all, I can’t miss a day and break the chain.

What ended up working best was going about my day, and finding moments that were interesting, unique, or beautiful, and take videos of those. Even if I wasn’t sure they were the best moments, my thinking was “at least I’ll have something at the end of the day to fall back on.” Then, if I had better moments later in the day, I could always delete the previous ones. No harm, no fowl.

It didn’t take long for it to become a habit and always think “what are my 1 seconds going to be today?”

It got a little challenging when all I would do is stay in and work at my home office, or when I would just go and teach my classes and take the same route to get there. The trick was to find a slightly different angle or aspect of the experience that I hadn’t captured before. You’d be surprised how many different ways you can record the same walk down a street.

One last word of caution…

Don’t forget to back up your phone at least once a week. The last thing you want is to create priceless memories and then have them taken away by some computer failure. Not cool.

Got a 1SE reel you want to show off? Post it in the comments for the world to see. That’s right, the world is reading this post. I said it.

P.S. For a different angle on the same 7 months, here’s my B Roll: