Thursday, August 27, 2009

Productivity: Do Less Not More

You have often heard me say that the most productive people I know do less, not more!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog by Leo on Zen Habits (forwarded to me by my brother-in-law Stephen) Get Less Done: Stop Being Productive and Enjoy Yourself

Check it out:

Post written by Leo Babauta.

There’s too much emphasis these days on productivity, on hyperefficiency, on squeezing the most production out of every last minute.

People have forgotten how to relax. How to be lazy. How to enjoy life.

Try this: read some of the best books, magazines and blogs on productivity, and see how many will tell you how to get the most out of the time you spend waiting, how to maximize your energy, how to make use of your commute time, how to make every meeting more effective, how to get more out of your workday, how to crank out more widgets.

People are working longer hours, constantly checking their inboxes, constantly focused on Getting More Done.
But to what end?

Are we producing more in order to make more money for corporations? Or to make more money for ourselves? Or just to hold on to our jobs — jobs we might not like anyway?
It’s possible we’re trying to get more done because we love doing it — and if that’s the case, that’s wonderful. But even then, working long hours and neglecting the rest of life isn’t always the best idea. Sometimes it’s good to Get Less Done, to relax, to breathe.
Let’s take a brief look at how to do that.

The Beauty of Getting Less DoneWhile working long hours and cranking out a lot of widgets is one way to go, another is to work on important things, to create amazing things, and then to relax.

I’m not saying you should surf the web all day, or take naps all afternoon … but why not? Why not enjoy a lovely nap? Why not take a long lunch and then a siesta? Why not enjoy a good book?
I get people who ask me all the time, “What should I do on those days when I can’t seem to be productive?”

My answer: “Enjoy it!”

Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but an obsession with productivity is unhealthy. When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax. Let go of the need to be hyperefficient. Stop feeling guilty about enjoying yourself.
But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever? Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax, and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier. And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation. Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love, when you get excited.

It’s how I work every day. I work on lots of projects, on things I really care about, with people I enjoy working with. (See my guide to becoming self-employed if you’d like to do the same.)
How to RelaxIt’s funny that I’d even need a section on this topic — how to relax. It seems like it should be something we all know how to do. After all, aren’t we constantly searching for ways to be less lazy? And doesn’t it logically follow that we already know how to be lazy?
It’s possible you already have mastered the art of relaxing. And if so, congratulations. You are a Get Less Done master. All you need now, perhaps, is to let go of the guilt you might feel, and enjoy this relaxation.

But for those of you who have forgotten how to relax, you’re going to have a tougher time. Here’s a hint: don’t stress out about it. If you don’t know how to relax, it’s OK. Breathe. Take it slowly. One step at a time.

Some steps:
Take 5 minutes to go outside for a walk. Breathe the fresh air.
Give yourself more time to do things. More time means less rush.
After work, get outside, take in nature, run around if you can.
Play. Play like a child. Play with a child. Play when you work.
Give yourself a day off. Sleep. Watch TV. Eat bon bons.
At work, give yourself an hour off. Don’t try to be productive. Just have fun.
Work with someone who is exciting. Get excited about a project.
Take evenings off. Seriously, no working in the evenings.
Get a massage.

Step by step, learn to relax. Learn that productivity isn’t everything. Creating is great, but you don’t need to fill every second with work. When you do work, get excited, pour yourself into it, work on important, high-impact tasks … and then relax.

Well written Leo! Let's all incorporate more opportunities to relax.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Join me at the Innovation Philadelphia Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit

Creative industry types from across the world are coming to the City of Brotherly Love for Innovation Philadelphia’s second Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit on October 5-6, 2009.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, a graphic or web designer, business exec, or something in between, there is sure to be something for everyone with more than 100 speakers scheduled for this year’s event. With a variety of panels and workshops, and keynote speakers such as Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert and social media guru Peter Shankman, the Summit is bringing together the best of the best from an assortment of creative industries to network, exchange ideas, and share information. I am excited to be speaking for this fabulous event and would love to see you there.

Check out to register and to see all the latest news about the Summit.

Friday, August 21, 2009

When you walk out of a room - how does it Change? Blog by Scott Ginsberg

Check out Scott Ginsberg's fabulous blog entry today (love this guy) his blogs are great, is a fabulous speaker and he helps make the world more productive:

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Make Your Conference Attendance Productive

Throughout our careers we are all required to attend conferences, industry meetings, retreats, strategic off-site meetings. These events are all called different names but the idea is the same – you need to be away from your home or office for a period of time. To ensure this is a productive activity for you I have created a list of tips you can use before, during and after the conference event.

Before the Conference

Phone Ahead – a concierge is the greatest source of information for any new city or hotel. When you contact the hotel where you are staying ask several questions including:

Is there a health club or gym? Is there an additional fee for use of this facility?
Is there Internet access in your room and is this an additional charge?
Is there a hotel shuttle?
Does the hotel provide a pick up service from the airport?
Are there shops close by i.e. grocery store, coffee shop and pharmacy?
Is there a pool or spa facility available?
Is there a business centre with computers, printers and copiers?

These questions help you prepare to pack the required clothing and determine if you will travel with your laptop.

Book your transportation – if the hotel provides a complimentary shuttle service this is a great money and time saver. You will need to book this in advance. You may also like to enquire about using a limousine service (that are often not much more expensive than a local taxi). Alternatively you can arrive at the airport and take your chances with a taxi or multi-stop shuttle service.

Choose your Sessions – if you are able to see an agenda ahead of time, make a note of the break out sessions you would like to attend at the conference. Determine what your businesses needs are and where you want to invest your time. This will avoid wasting time when you arrive.

Make appointments before you arrive – if you know of others who are travelling in for the conference, make time to meet with them for drinks, meals or before the conference. Leverage all opportunities while you are at the event.

Arrange ‘Out of Office’ facilities – determine how you will handle your communication while you are away. You may nominate your Virtual Assistant handle everything for you, you may leave an ‘out of office’ auto responder on email and an extended out of office on your voicemail message. Make arrangements to educate those around you that you are not available during this time.

Change your Voicemail – leave a message on your office number and cell phone that you are not available during that time but give callers an option to be called after hours. Include the day and date you will be returning to your office. You may also leave an alternative name and number for them to call.

Pack stationery – pack a few blank envelopes to store the new business cards you will receive, take a large supply of your own business cards and also pack ‘thank you’ notes that you can use at the event.

Pack Walking Shoes – no matter how long or short the event is, you can always make time to leave your hotel or conference room to get some fresh air. You may also like to consider packing a bathing suit if there are pool facilities.

Don’t over pack – we have a tendency to pack more clothes than required. Ensure you have a combination of professional and casual clothing and footwear. Review the agenda to make note of any special or formal dress events during the conference.

Schedule 1 full day of follow up activities – before you leave for conference, make an appointment in your schedule for a whole day to action any requests you may have received at conference, follow up business cards, write correspondence and investigate any products or services you were interested in.

During the Conference

Stay healthy – drink plenty of water, make good food choices from the buffets and menus, avoid excessive sugar and alcohol, take vitamins, use the health club and get plenty of sleep. It is not unusual at these events to eat foods we don’t normally consume, get less sleep than we are used to and participate in activities that are not part of our usual routine. Keep an eye on your health to really maximise your energy while you are there.

Get out of the hotel – make time to walk outside of the hotel, visit a local restaurant or café, check out the tourist activities – ensure you are able to experience an environment outside of your hotel.

Avoid checking phone messages all day – during the day avoid the distraction of checking your cell phone in the breaks. This not only removes you from the event but also can interrupt your thinking while you are there. Check them in the afternoon and return the calls (if necessary) at the end of each day.

Paper is heavy – be aware of the amount of paper you are collecting and folders you accumulate while at conference. I recently had to pay excess baggage fees as my suitcase was 10 pounds overweight… and it was all paper!

Sit in the front row – don’t be shy. Sit up front. You are more likely to concentrate and get less distracted if you are in the front of the room.

Be fully present – in all conversations, during the sessions and during meal breaks, make sure you engage with your presenter, colleagues and new friends. Give them your full attention while you are with them.

Avoid checking your email all day – if you can’t possibly imagine not checking your email each day, do it at night before the events activities re-commence. It can be distracting and unproductive.

Write on the back of business cards – when you meet someone who gives you their card, ask them if you can make notes on the back of their card. Write notes that will jog your memory for follow up after the event (especially if it is a large conference). Sometimes it can be hard to remember all the details when we have left the hotel.

Take your business cards everywhere – whether you are in session, at a social gathering or at the local tourist attraction, while you are on conference always have your business cards with you – you never know whom you might meet.

Be memorable – when there are large groups of people gathered it could be hard to stand out in a crowd. Make sure conference attendees remember you as someone who was a great listener, fun to be with and fully present at all times.

Volunteer – one of the best ways to meet people at conference is to volunteer. You can be a greeter, help place handouts on the chairs, clean up or support a presenter. The organizers will appreciate your help and you will make great contacts this way.

Target those you want to meet – don’t be shy. Introduce yourself to anyone you want to meet at the event. If this feels uncomfortable to you, ask someone else to introduce you to the people you want to meet.

Be prepared to purchase products and services at the event – if there is a trade exhibition, make the time to review the trade stands, take advantage of discount offers and special promotions for conference attendees.

After the Conference

Make a ‘To Do’ List – you may do this on the plane or when you get home. Make a list of everything you need to do to follow up and leverage your time at conference.

Write ‘Thank You’ notes on the plane – if you have an opportunity to begin your follow up on the flight home it can be a great use of your time.

Do what you say you will do – if you made a commitment to someone at the conference make sure you follow through. This is an important aspect of any conference attendance.

Stay in touch – if you made valuable contacts during the event, make time in your schedule to stay in touch with these people. You can do this by teleconference, sending them copies of your ezine or company newsletter or simply by phoning to say Hi… or in my case … G’Day!

Attending these conferences is a huge investment in time, attention and energy. Make your next event more productive by applying these tips.

Neen James, CSP MBA, is an International Productivity Expert: by looking at how they spend their time and energy – and where they focus their attention – Neen helps people rocket-charge their productivity and performance. A dynamic speaker and author, Neen demonstrates how boosting your productivity can help you achieve amazing things. With her unique voice (Aussie accent), sense of fun and common-sense, Neen delivers a powerful lesson in productivity. Find out more and subscribe to Neen’s Ezine at

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Productively Build Your Brand on Zero Budget

Now is a great time to productivity invest in yourself without spending a lot of money. This month choose three activities you can begin working on to build or increase your personal brand:

Practice a great handshake – you only have 7 seconds to make a first impression. In those 7 seconds people assess your age, income, marital status and education level – in 7 seconds!

Create an email signature – include your contact information and a quote about you.

Change your voicemail monthly – have you listened to your voicemail lately? If not, try it.

Set up social media profiles – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo – there are so many choices and you simply need to invest 15 minutes per day to do this.

Create e-introductions on email for your network – make introductions for others in your network via email. Help them build their business and resources while you build a brand of being the ‘go-to’ connector.

Give one referral away every day – who will you recommend today? I believe the more you give out the more it comes back to you 10 fold! It works, try it out.

Write one thank you note every week – there are so many reasons to thank people but few people take the time to do this, it will make you more memorable.

Invite someone to a networking event with you – help them expand their network while you get to increase yours too.

Invite a potential connection for coffee – well this costs money… but not much. Coffee is a much less expensive option than lunch or dinner and can be more productive too!

Conduct a tele-coffee (this is where you make a coffee, and I make a coffee and we talk on the telephone!) I do tele-cocktails on Fridays! These take no more than 15 minutes and they are very productive!

Follow up after networking events – did you know less than 1% of people follow up? Be part of that 1% today.

Ask your network for help – reach out, you will be so glad you did. People want to help you but maybe they don’t know what you need? Choose to reach out to one person today.

Comment on discussion boards/websites – share your opinion and expertise with the world, they want to hear from you.

Start your own blog – go to and set up in 5 minutes!

Ask others to promote you – be brave, you are fabulous – tell others and they will spread the word!

Never leave the house in sweats – this is a MAJOR sin – don’t do it – it kills your brand! Ensure you have one fabulous outfit for all your errands.

Wear great shoes –shoes communicate a message about you – what message are you sending to the world with your shoe choices?

Walk with great posture – back straight and head held high – face the world with a smile.

Speak in positive language only – refuse to buy into the negativity right now, in every conversation speak only in positive words.

Join a non-profit Board – giving back in your community will increase your brand and your network and feels great too!

Donate your time - give to a cause you are passionate about i.e. read at your local school, volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit aged care facilities where you live, and offer to shop for someone – there are so many people who could use your time and talents.

Create your own language – have a favourite word and use it often, mine is ‘fabulous’. What is a word you use often that people remember you by?

Invest in your personal development – study online, read journals, attend a seminar, choose to do something to build your skills and knowledge today.

Read one book per month – set a goal and switch off the TV – books will expand your mind and make great conversational topics.

Seek out a mentor – check out mentoring programs within your company and online for great resources:

Publish articles online & in your local papers and journals – go to and publish today (for free!). If you are knowledgeable about any topic the world needs to hear from you.

Barter your services for others – if you can’t afford a service but you have talents, offer to share your time and expertise with someone else.

Be your authentic self – you are fabulous – let others see you. This is the best way to build your personal brand. Turn up as yourself 100% of the time, people want to know you, they want to help you and they enjoy your brand.

Choose the activities today that you can implement without spending money to productivity build your brand.

Neen James, MBA is an International Productivity Expert: by looking at how they spend their time and energy – and where they focus their attention – Neen helps people rocket-charge their productivity and performance. A dynamic speaker and author, Neen demonstrates how boosting your productivity can help you achieve amazing things. With her unique voice (Aussie accent), sense of fun and common-sense, Neen delivers a powerful lesson in productivity. Find out more and subscribe to Neen’s free monthly ezine at

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Super Productive Connecting: Hear Neen's Interview with Thought Leader Gihan Perera

Recently I was interviewed by the legendary Gihan Perera as part of the Thought Leaders: Volume 3 book just released in Australia - here more about my section on Super-Connecting on this interview (39 minutes long) - enjoy:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How to Really Use LinkedIn - new book by Jan Vermeiren

One of my collegues has written a valuable resource on the how to's of using LinkedIn. This practical resource is a requirement of every person using LinkedIn today.

More than 34 million people have a profile on LinkedIn and some connections. However the most heard questions are: why should I be on this website? How does it benefit me? And how do I get results without spending too much time?

Jan doesn't only reveal the true power of LinkedIn, but also shows a short and effective 3 step plan to get results fast. Furthermore there are advanced strategies to find new customers, a new job, suppliers, experts,...

Together with answers to the 24 most frequently asked questions, an overview of 22 little known features and a list of free tools to save time when working on LinkedIn, this makes "How to REALLY use LinkedIn" thé ultimate guide for success on LinkedIn.
To celebrate the launch there is a special package for anyone who buys the book on Amazon on March 17. More info at:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is Facebook a productivity killer? Using Facebook Productively

I see it all the time; my clients complain about it, has it happened to you? On a daily basis, highly intelligent adults find themselves wasting valuable time (our most precious resource) glued to their computer, accepting friend requests, instant messaging, updating status, checking out photos, commenting on things they usually wouldn’t spend time on… how do I know all this? I too was initially sucked into Facebook (FB)!

Facebook is a brilliant online social media tool that can help you reconnect with friends, colleagues and associates, deepen existing relationships, promote your business, share resources and manage your communications. I believe that Facebook can make you more productive however you need to apply these strategies to avoid the productivity trap:

Determine purpose – can you articulate why you have a FB account? Do you want to promote your business or your clients? Do you want to look cool to your teenagers? Do you want to reconnect in a cheaper, faster, more efficient way? Whatever your reason, be clear about what you want to use it for.

Go on a Facebook diet – just like you allocate a certain number of meals or calories per day, limit your time on FB. You might determine that 60 minutes per day will work for you (30 in the morning and 30 at night). I spend no more than 15 minutes in the morning and then occasionally I will check it at night. My business requires significant travel so I also enjoy FB when I am waiting at airports. Determine how many minutes per day you will invest.

Decide how many accounts you will have – recently I was part of a panel of experts on communicating with Generation X & Y for the National Speakers Association winter conference ( and we were discussing how many accounts people should have. Some of the audience wanted one for personal and one for work – that seems like too much work for me and I only have one account for the world to see – this is more productive for me in my world.

Use Positive Language – if you decide to have one account (or two accounts for that matter) always ensure your status updates, items posted and photos are all positive. If you don’t want grandma seeing those photos – don’t post them!

We don’t care what you ate for dinner – stop providing status updates on what you just ate – your ‘friends’ don’t care. Use the status updates to share a bit of yourself, your business or promote a client - that is productive. What you ate for dinner… not productive.

Create uniqueness – determine what makes you unique. I am an Aussie living in the US. It is easy for me to paste photos of Oz. With all the heart breaking, fatal fires that swept across Australia there were many photos of koalas being rescued so I was able to share those on my FB page. You can make a donation to the Australia Red Cross ( ) or the RSPCA ( ) to help the wildlife.

Repost great stories and ideas – share resources, recommended articles, photos, posts, and blog entries of your colleagues, clients and friends. It helps them and adds value to your page. Gina Rubel from Furia Rubel is very good at this – she is one of the best using Facebook (

Turn off sounds and online status – change your settings to remove all bells, whistles, chimes when messages come into your FB page. Also change your online status if you don’t want people instant messaging you when they can see you are online.

Clear inbox regularly – just like you read your email inbox daily, clear your FB inbox too.

Make friend suggestions – if you see someone new to FB or you connect with someone new, take a few minutes to make friend suggestions to help them expand their FB friends list too.

Comment on status updates – encourage and support other users, their posts and share them with your groups. Michael Port recently suggested a great referral program for small business using Facebook ( )

Create groups – allocate friends to groups and categories to target your communications and resource sharing.

Announce good news – when you win awards, gain new clients, make presentations, release new books, or whatever is great news for you and your business – share it in your status updates.

Post surveys – if you are doing a survey use FB as a tool. Kim Huggins (a specialist in Generation Y communications) did this recently with great results: ( )

Facebook is a great, fun tool for personal and professional use. It is initially addictive but you can put yourself on a FB diet and boost your productivity today.

Neen James, MBA, is an International Productivity Expert: by looking at how people spend their time and energy – and where they focus their attention – Neen helps them to rocket-charge their productivity and performance. A dynamic speaker and author, Neen demonstrates how boosting your productivity can help you achieve amazing things. With her unique voice (Aussie accent), sense of fun and common-sense, Neen delivers a powerful lesson in productivity. Find out more and subscribe to Neen’s free monthly e-zine at

Friday, January 16, 2009

Be productive in an open plan office environment

Check out this great article from Canadian news source regarding open plan office environments and how to be more productive:

Monday, January 05, 2009

How to make 2009 your most productive year ever!

How to Make This Your Most Productive Year Ever

Each year we start the year thinking about our goals, our job, our health, all the ‘new’ routines and commitments we make to ourself to make this our best year yet… but two weeks into January all our planning and resolution goes out the window! You can make this your best year ever by applying some of these simple ideas (and print this article, keep it handy and re-read to keep you on track).

Make a date. Make time in your schedule to find a quiet, comfortable location to set your goals. I spend a morning at my favourite local cafe in January every year to review my goals and set new ones for the year ahead. Find a local restaurant or café and spend time doing the same – support your local businesses.

Take five. Create five categories for which to set goals: physical, educational, spiritual, financial, and relational. By setting goals for each of these areas of your life, you will be taking a balanced approach and not neglecting any important aspects of your life.

Use it or lose it! I recently read – people who spend a thousand dollars or more each year on their personal development will increase their business by 20 percent. Read more books, attend Chamber of Commerce or industry workshops, attend a business card exchanges, listen to CDs in your car, do online courses or enrol at college or university. Keep your brain active.

Make time. Eliminate time-robbers from your day – make a list of all the things you do that rob you of your time, such as watching too much TV, running errands inefficiently, checking and responding to your email too often, making long phone calls, waiting in traffic and even other people. Focus on controlling your time – organising your day efficiently and getting rid of the things in your life that are not a high priority.

Out of sight, out of mind. Remove your in-tray from your desk or get rid of it all together if you can! Keep it out of sight so the contents don’t distract you and so that people don’t drop new items into it without you noticing.

Unplug. Schedule one TV-free night each week. Switch off the TV and instead listen to your favorite music, play a board or card game, read a book, enjoy a quiet meal by candle light (alone or with someone whose company you love), go on a date in one of your local restaurants or soak in a bath. Start being aware of your television viewing habits and make a point of only watching programs that you truly enjoy and stop wasting precious time in front of the TV.

Manage your reading. Create a reading file and put it in your briefcase. If you don’t already have one, start a reading file and carry it with you on your way home. You can get through a surprising amount of reading while on public transport to and from work and while waiting in a line.

Find a mentor. When you identify the person you believe would be a suitable mentor, spend some time watching them in action. Ask around to find out what other people’s opinion of your chosen mentor are and find out all you can about their achievements, beliefs, values and way of operating. This will give you insight into them before you approach them about mentoring you.

Schedule email time. Email messages popping into your inbox all day long can be an enormous distraction, particularly if your email is set to alert you every time new mail arrives. To check in on your emails and respond to them as they arrive not only distracts you from whatever tasks or projects you are working on but can rob you of an entire day, responding to other people’s needs while your own are neglected. Schedule a couple or a few times each day to check and respond to emails rather than constantly looking-in on your inbox or being bounced there by your email program with every new message.

Your signature. Use your email program to create an email signature block that will automatically attach to all of your outgoing messages; it’s a little like an email letterhead. It saves you the effort of including your contact information every time and brings a professional touch to your communications. You might simply include your name, business name, contact details and website or you might also include a sentence or two about your business, a special promotion you are running with a link to your website, or even a favourite funny or inspirational quote.

Spring clean. Schedule time to clean out your email regularly, once a month should be enough to keep you on top of it. Empty your deleted items and any unnecessary sent items, and go through any completed project or task folders and ensure that anything you are keeping is essential to your records. Cleaning out your email will ensure you are managing your email files and disk space effectively.

Set up systems. When using filing cabinets, decide how you will allocate your space to make it easiest to locate your files: for example, rather than mixing all your files together you might decide to keep current customer files in one drawer and potential customer files and marketing information in a separate drawer, or you might choose to store current projects in one drawer and research and reference information in another, or you might decide to file everything in alphabetical order – you get the idea – look at the type of files you have and decide how to logically divide them into categories. Then, label the front of each drawer with the type of files it contains.

Choose to be amazing! It’s as simple as making a commitment to yourself every morning that you will have an amazing day. Remember, life is not a dress rehearsal – we only get one performance, so let’s give it our best!

Neen James, MBA is an International Productivity Expert: by looking at how they spend their time and energy – and where they focus their attention – Neen helps people to rocket-charge their productivity and performance. A dynamic speaker, author and corporate educator, Neen demonstrates how boosting your productivity can help you achieve amazing things. With her unique voice (Aussie accent), sense of fun and uncommon common-sense, Neen delivers a powerful lesson in productivity. Find out more and subscribe to Neen’s free monthly ezine at