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.

Constant And Never-ending Improvement (CANI)

For those of you who don’t know Tony Robbins, stop what you’re doing (yes, that means reading this post) and familiarize yourself with his body of work.

Great, now that that’s taken care of I can share how Tony Robbins helped start a chain reaction of self-tracking in my life.

It began with the power talk series. One of my former salsa students (back when they used to call me “Gringo Salsero”) whom I made a particularly strong connection with recommended that I invest in myself. He specifically recommended an interview that Tony Robbins had with marketing genius Jay Abraham and it has been one of the best investments I have made. Check out the Power Talk series specifically.

In “A Decision to Ensure Success” one of the concepts was that of CANI (Constant and Never-ending Improvement). To systematically and incrementally enhance the main areas of my life, so that when I look back in 6 months, or a year, I can see quantum leaps in my personal and professional growth. Brian Tracy talks about this concept as well, but he calls it the 1000% Formula, which is based on the Law of Incremental Improvement. In any event, the assignment at the end of the disc was to write down 3 things every day: what did I learn, improve, and enjoy?

At the time I was already using the CarbonFin Outliner app for iPhone and iPad. What better way to stay ridiculously organized than to record my daily CANI entries in outline form? Match made in heaven, right? I thought so too.

The day was August 2nd, 2011. Little did I know that I would begin a journey of self tracking that would result in a daily ritual of tracking 9 separate metrics (more to come on those in future posts).

What worked so well about this structure for me, was the fact that it was super simple, and completely NOT intimidating. Just record 3 things each day. I could have written 1-2 sentences for each, and been done in 90 seconds. As you might have guessed however, that’s not how it went down.

Since I live in Washington Heights, I have a rather long subway ride to get home. This has always been a blessing for me, since the subway is one of the most productive work spaces ever. Where’s your most productive space? Never thought about that before? Might want to start that conversation with yourself.

Instead of riding the subway home and being bored to tears, or passing the time with mindless games that do not add any value to my life (no offense Angry Birds, but what have you given me? Really?), I began writing 2-3 paragraphs for each. It was a perfect way to pass the time, and also served as my daily journal.

At first it was a little challenging to come up with something for each of the 3 questions, but I quickly realized that I was ALWAYS learning, improving, and enjoying myself. It was just a matter of identifying them. What’s more, the best part about this process was that I found myself going about my days actively seeking things to learn, improve, and enjoy.

Believe in the law of attraction? Yeah, it was kind of like that. Tony Robbins talks about it too. What you focus on, you become.

In the words of Charles Duhigg, writing down the answers to my 3 CANI questions was the “keystone habit.” The habit that started all my other habits, and made it easier to track other things about myself. I got so good in fact, that I adopted the habit of starting new habits. And if that doesn’t blow your mind…you should watch the movie Inception. Dreams within dreams within dreams…epic.

Once again, thank you Tony Robbins.

Thought I was going to finish this post without giving you a sample of my first CANI log entry?

I’m not that much of a tease 😉



Learned that I need to stay out all day and only return home with just enough time to wind down (maybe) eat, and pretty much go to bed. If I am home early and I’m tired, it doesn’t work out well because it’s too early to go to sleep, but I’m too tired to be productive.
Also learned to take airborne at the first sign of sickness (even if just a scratchy throat)


Improved the way I’m living my life by adopting and incorporating the philosophy of CANI into my daily routine.
Improved the Shir Consulting Process from Karl’s 7 or 11 step strategic process from his work PowerPoints.
Improved the way I delegate tasks at work. I gave Rachel the task of calling Verizon which saved me a lot of time.


Enjoyed hearing my boss say that I’ve done an excellent job and knowing that I am doing a phenomenal job at not only fixing the mistakes and bringing more value to the company, but also COMMUNICATING so amazingly well that he is overjoyed with the amount of value that I bring to him and his company.
Enjoyed starting CANI questions.

New Habits

For several years I’ve put off creating a blog, fearing it would take too much of my time. However, after multiple conversations with internet savant maymay, I am convinced that this is the best use of my time.

According to him, I need to start a never-ending conversation about Excel on the internet that consistently adds value to people’s lives. When someone does a Google search for my name, they should see a wealth of knowledge that is immediately helpful. Right now, they see my 29 videos, and the fact that I teach classes on Skillshare (which is actually no longer the case).

The thing is, I’ve been tinkering with Excel for years, coming up with all kinds of new ways for it to optimize my life. Yet, I haven’t written about any of these ideas. As far as the internet is concerned, they don’t exist.

Fortunately, I don’t have to start from scratch. All I have to do is incorporate a new habit into my life: take my daily Excel discoveries and put them in writing. Share the realizations, breakthroughs, and “Aha Moments” with the rest of the world. Special thanks to Charles Duhigg for writing The Power of Habit and teaching me how to accomplish this.

Luckily for me, there are also many examples of successful bloggers for me to emulate. Most notably, Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You To Be Rich and Ash Ambirge from The Middle Finger Project. They have both amassed die hard fans over many years. How? By consistently providing free, high quality content. It’s no surprise that when they announce an expensive course or product, people sign up in massive numbers.

What you can expect from this blog:

Growing pains. Let’s be honest for a minute (because until now I’ve been lying through my teeth!) – my first posts are going to suck. Okay, the first couple months will probably suck too, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles. Don’t fret though, I will constantly be learning and improving along the way.

New insights. I will focus primarily on Excel, technology, productivity, life-hacking, and self improvement.

Videos. Lots of videos. There will be step-by-step guides, probably some profanity, and overall some seriously good times.

I’ve got over 20 ideas for posts already in the queue, so I hope you’re as excited as I am.

Now grab a Diet Peach Snapple (because for some reason they are better than the regular flavor, right?), and let’s dive in!