Monday, July 24, 2017

Pay Attention to What’s Killing Productivity

killing productivity

Distractions. They’re everywhere. And for a lot of employers – they are killing productivity. A study done recently by CareerBuilder shared the top productivity roadblocks in the workplace.

 

 

 

  1. Cellphones/texting
  2. The Internet
  3. Gossip
  4. Social media
  5. Email
  6. Co-workers dropping by
  7. Meetings
  8. Smoke breaks/snack breaks
  9. Noisy co-workers
  10. Sitting in a cubicle

 

If you’re ready to increase your value in your workplace, reduce your stress level and knock your numbers out of the park production wise? Pay attention to these five strategies to stop killing productivity:

 

  1. Own it. That is, take a look at this list and determine where you fall in terms of what’s keeping you from accomplishing your daily goals. If you think your phone might be a contender, try the Moment app. It tracks just how much you are on your device and allows you to set limits for yourself so that you start to step away from the 24/7 phone attachment and step into a lot more being present and productivity.
  2. Be hyper-conscious to what is on your task list this week and prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. What five things absolutely have to get done first? What can you delegate? What is just a time-waster and not vital to your vision? Knock those first things out first.
  3. Nix the Internet. Not for work-related productivity, but take a look at the Freedom app which blocks certain websites (including time-draining social media) and allows you to set controls so you can stay on task.
  4. Time-Block. The top producers are careful time managers. They purposely create space for tasks such as email review, for meetings, for social media, and even personal time. They set time (or as I like to say, fold time, so that they can work at their highest potential. Learn more about folding time here.
  5. Be clear. In some of the most productive workspaces I know of, team members get creative about sharing when they are in focus mode. Clearly communicating (without being rude, of course) when you are in “do not disturb” mode is vital. Some have signs up when they are on prospecting calls for example. Others use headsets to buffer the noise around them and signal they are “in the zone”. What are some ways you can communicate that you’re paying total attention to the task in front of you?
  6. Be mindful. Getting caught in a trap of office politics or gossip is bad for productivity, bad for business, and bad for your mindset. Make your workspace a no drama zone. Know that even if you’re not spreading the gossip, just participating makes you part of the unhealthy problem.

 

Pay attention to what’s pulling at you. What’s taking you away from bringing your best and brightest self to the workplace – and at home as well. Don’t let the deal-breakers get the better of you. Which of these strategies can you put in place today to change how you deal with distractions? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Want to teach your team how to effectively fold time and avoid distractions? Call me today to see how I can help!

 

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Summer Fun Out of the Office = Focused Attention in the Office

summer funDo you want to get more focused in the summer?

Is your family outside playing and your friends are having fabulous summer fun while you’re stuck in the office?

Here’s a tip. If you really want to increase your productivity in the summer, consider booking in time — just for you and for play. That means, not working sometimes on a weekend. It means leaving your smartphone turned off over a weekend. Use the time for those you care about for true recovery time. That way when you are at the office you work really hard.

 

Often when I work with clients in the summer, they would rather be outside than inside. Can you consider closing the office earlier on a Friday or establish a flexible summer schedule? Maybe leaving a little earlier if you work in an office with others. Do this throughout the summer and encourage others to do the same. Everyone’s productivity will increase as a result of the extra time off to pay attention to fun, friends and family. You’d be ah-mazed to see how morale increases and focus skyrockets.

 

When you are home, on vacation or simply away from the office enjoying summer weather, don’t contaminate your relaxation. Put away distractions and encourage your team to do the same. Discourage leaders, peers and employees from emailing, or messaging after hours, allowing everyone to step away, both physically and mentally from work.

 

Lastly, when you’re out of the office, reduce the anticipatory anxiety that comes with returning to too much email. So often my my clients complain that they have way too much email and it discourages them from unplugging and truly stepping away from work. The reality is, email is part of doing the job. It’s not the job. So during the summer, if you want to increase the productivity of your email, use your ‘Out of Office’ function. If you are going to be out of your office for summer hours or if you are going to a conference or if you have long meetings for the day,  I encourage you to put an ‘Out of Office’ message on. This will increase your productivity is it will manage the expectations of people who get a bounce back from you.

 

Need ideas for how you can enjoy summer fun while maximizing productivity and focus in your office? Give me a call! I’d be happy to help.

 

Happy Summer!

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Put a STOP Sign on Speakers Going Overtime – (FAIR WARNING: Rant Ahead)

allotted speaking timeRecently I sat in the audience of professional speakers in Orlando to watch a talented speaker (and friend) deliver a fantastic speech called ‘Be Re-memorable’.

He’d worked on this speech for nine months. How do I know that? Because I was there the day he got the call and he’s been working on that material ever since. And he absolutely blew the audience away! He owned the stage because of his creative and carefully crafted content and the customized songs that he wrote for the occasion. He made us laugh and he made us cry.

 

He was the fifth speaker that morning (way too many—right?) after a Presidential handover. Then there were three speakers all with a fifteen-minute window to speak. So, what happened to my friend? He didn’t start… until he was supposed to finish.  That’s crazy. What frustrated me most was that as professional speakers — we KNOW better, but our audience doesn’t know how much time each person is allocated.

 

Here’s the thing: As a professional speaker I know how important the allotted speaking time is. I have offered MANY meeting planners in my career the option of shortening my presentation to offer to bring their agenda back on time. Everyone appreciates that and some have asked me to take the full time.

 

This poor audience were tired, biology reminding them they needed a break, and their attention spans were potentially fried. Little did they know he wasn’t the speaker who was going late, but he was the last speaker of the day, it would be easy to blame him for blowing past his allotted speaking time. No one told them.

 

It’s easy to blame the speaker. It’s easy to blame the meeting planner. It’s easy to blame the lack of emcee. The blame is with all of us.

 

Hosting events is a partnership. It’s an agreement between meeting professionals, main-stage speakers, AV crew, audience members, emcees, break out speakers, and hotel staff. EVERYONE needs to be in it together to create a memorable experience that keeps audiences coming back year after year.

  • The emcee’s major responsibility is to keep the event flowing (and warn your speakers what you will do to them if they go over).
  • The event organizer needs contingency plans communicated if your event runs late.
  • The speaker needs to know it is NEVER OK to go overtime. Period. End of story. It’s unprofessional, selfish, and arrogant.
  • If the meeting planner tells their speaker to take the original allocated time it is their responsibility to tell the audience.
  • The audience needs to complete surveys to share feedback with meeting planners about their experiences.

 

We are all in this together.

What can you do if your speakers go overtime? I asked a group of other professional speakers and they had great solutions.

If you aren’t allowed to use a big hook (I am in favor of this) then the following are worth considering:

  1. Use a professional emcee that is responsible for meeting flow and timing.
  2. Ask the emcee to brief every speaker and let them know what will happen if they go overtime.
  3. Brief the AV crew to silence the microphones if someone goes over their allocated time.
  4. Ask the AV crew to start playing music… hey it works at the Oscars!
  5. Use a timer the speaker can see.
  6. Use a timer the audience can see. (This is controversial and powerful for short talks.)
  7. Meeting professionals – walk on stage and ask your audience to give them a round of applause … yes even if they aren’t finished.

 

I implore meeting professionals to reconsider scheduling so many speakers in a row and to better understand that audiences need that biology break. Their attention spans and desire to get up and move makes a less is more approach a better event plan.

 

An idea to put into play: Before you finalize your next speaker contract, can you add a clause about sticking to time?  Can you empower your emcee to remove someone if necessary? Can you help create a partnership that ultimately benefits your audience in a better way? Can you brief your AV crew of what you want them to do if instructed by you or the emcee when a speaker goes overtime? Let’s keep all our events on time and stop stealing minutes from each other.

 

Time is one of the most valuable commodities we have. When we pay ATTENTION to that importance and honor it at the highest level? Everyone wins.

 

All right. Rant over.

If you’d like to learn more about how paying ATTENTION to time, the details – both big and small, and what audiences today need and want, contact me. I’m happy to share how to make your next even AH-mazing!

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Intentional Attention: Tips for Today’s Leaders

intentional attentionAs leaders, it’s important to not just listen to the words people say, but to really pay attention to the intent behind them as well. When we do, we can get a more in-depth perception of what our team members are really trying to communicate.

 

People, your team members, want to be seen and heard, but sometimes what we SEE doesn’t quite line up with what we HEAR. Other times, we’re not SEEING at all, or really hearing. And that’s what has to change if you want to be the best possible leader you can be.

 

Truly paying attention is being intentional. It’s holding our own agenda at bay. It’s quieting the noise. It’s looking someone in the eye. It’s leaning in, and showing them that you are fully and absolutely present.

 

As a leader, has anyone ever walked into your office, and wanted (or needed) your attention, but you stayed engaged in something ELSE (email, laptop, phone, etc.) while they were talking?

 

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, and you know they couldn’t wait for you to finish so they can add their two cents? Or finish your sentence for you? Have you ever been in a meeting and looked around and can absolutely tell that some team members are mentally a million miles away?

 

Here’s the deal We all need attention. To get work done. To succeed. To feel like, even if we don’t want to be the center of everybody’s attention, that we’re the center of SOMEBODY’S attention. At least some of the time.

 

Your team members need that too. As do your customers. Because we, especially in business, need attention to pay. When it comes to making attention pay, you have to make choices and be intentional with your time, your attention and your energy.

 

My challenge to you?  Can you look people in the eye and give them your undivided attention more? Can you be more deliberate, personally and professionally to who you want and what you need to pay attention to?

 

Just with those two things settled, you are going to figure out what to say NO to, so you can YES to what really matters. It’s when you say NO to something that allows you to say YES to others – that’s when you know you’re really succeeding and investing in intentional attention.

 

Intentional attention is the BIG secret to being a successful leader. If you’d like to learn more about creating new ways for attention to PAY you big dividends in your business and life, share your thoughts here, or contact me today to learn how I can share this message with your team.

 

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer Slowdown: 12 Ways to Pay Attention this Season

summer slowdownWhy is it every year many of us experience a summer slowdown? Business slows down, networks stop meeting, work attendance decreases, business development activities grind to a halt and yet… we still have budgets, goals and targets to achieve?  How do you handle the ‘unproductive’ attitude summer brings for you and your team?

How can you juggle vacation schedules, kids home from school, warm weather and the overwhelming desire to go on cruise control? Historically summer may have been a time for you where you took it easy did minimum activity and were more focussed on what you could achieve when fall comes around… not this year.

Decide to make this your most productive summer ever with 12 strategies that set the roadwork for continual business growth… all year round.

 

Summer Slowdown

Take advantage of the weather. Use the longer hours of daylight to conduct meetings later in the day, take advantage of warmer conditions and meet people at outdoor venues, and meet clients for lunch to enjoy lighter food and warm sunshine.

Review your business plan. Make a 2 hour appointment with yourself to review all the actions in your business plan, cash flows, targets and spend time determining what you need to achieve your goals for this financial year. Your business plan should not be hiding in your bottom draw or collecting dust on a shelf, it is a living document that can be reviewed regularly – make summer your time to help you determine your next steps.

Revisit your marketing plan. What plan you ask? If you don’t have one, now is the time to sit and write one. If you need help there are an abundance of talented consultants who will assist you build a customised plan for your business that will incorporate your business plan. If you already have one, review your progress, determine what actions need to be taken and schedule time during the summer to complete those tasks.

Conduct a 6-month business review. Spend 2 hours reviewing your business achievements for the past 6 months. Ask yourself a series of 11 questions:

  • How would I rate my previous 6 months business performance (1-10 with 10 being the highest)?
  • Did I achieve my financial goals each month?
  • If not, why not?
  • If not, what do I need to do differently in the next 6 months to meet my annual budget or plan?
  • If I did meet these targets (congratulations to you), were they big enough?
  • Have I conducted staff reviews with my team? If not, why not? And when?
  • If so, have I rewarded my team adequately?
  • Do I need to invest more in my team or personal development?
  • Is my marketing plan on track? If not, why not?
  • If not, what activities do I need to conduct to implement more marketing strategies?
  • Have I done sufficient networking to grow my business or my connections? If not, why not?

When you have completed these questions, create a series of tasks, actions or projects to implement some of your strategies to help you really achieve all your targets for the next 6 months.

summer slowdownInvest in your personal development. Have you been meaning to read the latest business book? Is there a summit you could attend? Is there an online program you have wanted to complete? Is there a web seminar you wanted to register for? This is a great time of year to invest in yourself, refresh your memory and learn a new skill. Summer is conducive to learning.

Conduct a summer clean. Just like a spring clean, but during the summer months. A newly organized space that is clean and tidy can help bring focus and pull you from your summer slowdown. This summer clean could include:

  • Clear, delete or file those read emails in your inbox
  • Unsubscribe from all those newsletters that you don’t read
  • Allocate 1 hour to get your paper filing up to date (if you have more than 1 hour’s worth, do 1 hour per week until it is all complete)
  • Throw unwanted, unread journals that you have been ‘meaning’ to read, but haven’t and won’t
  • Review your ‘tasks’ on your to-do list or in your Outlook file and remove those tasks that simply won’t be completed
  • Spend 15 minutes cleaning the top of your desk, remove unnecessary stationery, put away files, clean the dust of your family photo, throw away empty water bottles and wipe down your computer keyboard and screen. A clean and clear desk will help you be more productive any time of year!
  • Enter the details into your contact management system of the business card pile that is gathering dust on your desk.

Hold a team development activity.

summer slowdown

If you manage a team of people, you can bet they are feeling a summer slowdown as well. Allocate some time to meet for lunch at an outdoor cafĂ©, take 3 hours and visit the local zoo as a team (work out which animal best represents each member of your team… only joking), meet early for a game of golf or tennis after work, bring food to share for lunch and conduct a meeting in your local park. Spend time listening to your team, their challenges, their achievements and plan your next 6 months and how you will achieve the targets for the whole team. Use the warmer weather to conduct outdoor versions of activities you normally conduct indoors.

Volunteer. Allow each of your team members to choose a local organization or charity they want to support and give them a day of service. Share the results with your clients and the local media of the great work you are doing. Share with board members information about you and your company.

Call 15 existing clients every week. Set yourself a target of reaching out to 3 existing clients every day and thank them for their business. Don’t leave the office until you have completed your calls.

Book a ‘tele-coffee’ with your clients. What is a ‘tele-coffee’? It is where you make a coffee and they make a coffee and the two of you meet by teleconference. It is a more productive way of meeting (and avoids wasted time in travel). 

Visit a new networking group. Many networking groups don’t meet in the summer, but those serious about building their business are still networking, still growing their business and still making valuable connections. Find out which groups are meeting and plan to attend at least 2 new groups in the summer. This is the perfect time to develop new relationships and valuable connections. 

summer slowdown business development

Create a list of new business development targets.

Once you have made your list book appointments to include lunch, breakfast or even a tele-coffee. Create a plan within your schedule to contact them regularly. Contact could include a phone call, email, sending them an interesting article, inviting them to a networking event with you, sending a parcel of products or a face to face meeting.

To continually grow your business and avoid the summer slowdown, you need to pay attention to the seasons and take advantage of their timing without suffering a summer slowdown. Instead, get more productive. Use this time to get a head start on all those fall meetings you can conduct when people return from vacation, ensure all plans are in place to achieve your annual results, tidy your work environment so you are not distracted by clutter and experiment with new products, and new networking opportunities. Embrace the warmer weather for outdoor meetings and events and enjoy all that summer brings for your business growth.

Feel like your team is suffering a summer slowdown, putting off today what could be done tomorrow? Watch this short video for tips – from me to you – on how to beat summer procrastination. Enjoy!

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Monday, June 19, 2017

3 Ways to Get Attention by Giving Attention First

give attention get attentionLearning to get attention or increasing your level of success is a focus for a lot of people. I believe, however, that to get attention, it’s really important to first GIVE attention. When you do, your results can be so much more amazing.

So, let’s look at a couple of strategies that work well for both giving and getting attention:

 

 

See and hear others. One basic human need is to be seen and heard. When we provide that for others, it strengthens our relationships. Are you truly stopping to listen more and talk less when you’re in presence of others? Are you really seeing them for who and what they are? Are you paying attention to the things that are important to them? Practice really being in the present when having conversations with those around you.

Leverage social media. Liking, commenting and sharing the social media posts of the people in your circle is a simple and quick way of letting people know that you see and hear them. A minute of your time could mean a lot to someone!

Notice EVERYTHING. I love to pay attention to what people’ favorite meals are, favorite flowers, special occasions or an accomplishment. And because I know I won’t remember everything, I like to write those things down and keep reminders. It’s those little things that are big in terms of showing others how much they mean and that they are seen.

If you want to get attention for you, your project, your team or the products and services you offer, the first thing to do is to proactively communicate.  For example, if you wanted to share what your team has accomplished this week — can you be your own publicist?  Can you proactively share with your boss five great things your team has done?

The other thing you can do to get attention in a positive way is to promote others. I love promoting my speaker friends to my clients. I love to promote the good work that people do, whether that’s books or blogs or videos that they’ve created.

Can you promote others as well and get attention for their message or good work? If you really want to get attention, give first.

Stand in service of others and be sure that the important people in your life know that you see and hear them. When you do, ah-mazing things happen!

Need more ideas and inspiration for how you can give the right attention to earn the best attention for yourself?

In this video, you’ll learn:

  • How to give others the attention necessary to make them feel heard
  • How to position yourself in a positive manner that allows you to maximize the attention for you and your brand
  • Provide others with positive attention that is reciprocal and awards you in return.

 

What would you add? I’d love to hear your thoughts.  If you’d like to teach your team the skills and tools to both get and give the kind of attention that can propel production, increase positive team dynamics and grow your business? Give me a call today to learn how I can help.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Presenters Learn from Peloton Instructors: Pay Attention

Peloton instructorsIt’s no secret I am obsessed with my Peloton. If you don’t believe me, read this blog I wrote a little while ago.

 

This workout is beyond the stationary bike. It’s a community of people with 26K+ people in the Facebook group, and loyal fans that trek across the country to ride live with their fave Peloton instructors at the NY studio (affectionately called the mother ship) and people drive hours to meet their fave  instructors at Peloton stores in malls around the USA.

 

As a keynote speaker, focused on the topic of attention, I am constantly looking for examples of how people bring their messages to life. It might be watching a comedian on Netflix, attending a show on Broadway or watching a musician perform their latest hits. We can learn so much about the art of presenting from people around us.

 

A brilliant example of presentation skills comes from the variety of personalities and Peloton instructors . John Foley, the CEO has clearly hand picked his crew and created celebrity profiles for each of them. Some have cult-like followings and I admit to being part of those tribes.

 

Each Peloton instructor has their unique approach to their classes and listed below are some of my major learnings we can all apply to our presentations at work, at home and in our community.

 

Be real – all instructors are authentic. Not all instructors will appeal to all audiences. They don’t apologize for how they show up. They are authentically themselves. Some swear. Others don’t. Some focus on heart rate, others on fun. Some sing out loud on their bike, and others share mantras. I love how they show up confidently as themselves.

 

How can you show the audience more of who you are so they instantly want to listen to you?

 

Create memorable phrases – as a keynote speaker one of our secret weapons are memorable phrases we create that are memorable, repeatable and re-tweetable. We craft words our audience can share with others to help land key messages.

The instructors do the same:

Christine D’Ercole says ‘I am. I can. I will. I do’

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Monday, June 05, 2017

Delete Email for Productive Communication – Use Brilliant Tech Tools Instead

delete emailDid you know U.S. companies lose $588 billion each year due to distracted multitasking? What if your company could delete email and other archaic applications? Imagine the time you could save in productive work hours.

Companies struggle to maximize productivity while meeting the demands of the workforce. They want to utilize talented employees across the globe and provide flexible work environments, yet fear the impact of time wasted in daily communication. Since the success of organizations require us to do more with less while maximizing the use of time, it’s essential to look at the way in which business is conducted daily.

Technology has provided companies with huge advantages, changing the pace at which we work. It allows us to accomplish tasks more quickly, more easily and quite often with less expense. Email has turned into a thing of the past, an archaic tool that demands too much of our time and attention.

New technological advances, such as RingCentral Glip, lump our multiple outdated 90’s era tools into one ultra-slick, super productivity tool. No more do we have to utilize spreadsheets for task tracking, notes to capture conversations, intranet databases for file sharing and endless numbers of emails requiring our time and attention.

Here are some ways your organization can benefit from using Glip:

No More Email – Tools like Glip create huge advantages for companies. This real-time platform allows employees to quickly chat, discuss ideas and maintain records of conversations without dozens of emails to peruse. Employees aren’t forced to draft a message with subject, header and signature. Readers aren’t required to open emails, respond, determine who needs to be copied and wait indefinitely before receiving a response. When you use Glip, the chat is real time and can be text or video. Video calling is a paid feature within the Glip platform that’s available now that Glip is part of RingCentral. So delete email, and get with the modern program of real-time messaging.

Outdated Third Party Video Conferencing Platforms – We’ve all become accustomed to setting up meetings and utilizing third party platforms to enable video conferencing. With the new RingCentral Glip UI, users can quickly access each other in face-to-face conversations, allowing them to see facial expressions and body language. Users do not have to download and execute separate files and extensions to conduct a video conference.

Spreadsheet Project Tracking Pain – Remember the days when companies ran on Microsoft Excel? Now with tools like Glip, employees can share documents, assign tasks, project manage work with deadlines and timeframes. We don’t have to email spreadsheets back and forth or fear multiple versions are being used. The work and tasks are visual and available for everyone to see any time.

Endless Shared Databases – Now where was that file again? Imagine the number of hours wasted by employees searching through shared databases trying to find a file someone uploaded and saved for them to view. With Glip, files are easily accessible in the shelf feature that keeps relevant documents handy. It even allows the ability to prioritize frequently used documents and those of most importance.

Imagine the amount of time your company could save in productive work hours by ridding yourself of email, spreadsheets, third party video conferencing, and shared databases. Imagine if your employees were able to use one tool that did it all. Imagine the ability for employees to be available, no matter where they resided. Just consider the possibilities you’d have to make your workforce more flexible.

Advances in technology have ushered in this new era of business. So what are you waiting for?

To discover more ways your business can save time, create flexibility and maximize productivity, visit www.neenjames.com and learn how to profit by paying attention to what matters most.

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