Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Aussie Hugs and Champagne Kisses

champagne kissesRegardless of the holiday you celebrate, it can be a busy (and stressful). This holiday let’s choose the following:

Give the gift of your undivided attention – turn off technology, look people in the eyes and have a great conversation with someone you value this holiday season.

Donate your time – we don’t have time to do everything, only time to do what matters. Do you have an elderly person in your neighborhood that could use your help, a mum who would value babysitting for an hour, or a team member who would benefit from your mentoring – your time is precious to them too.

Donate to charity – choose to replace one gift for a donation to a charity you believe in. We love Operation Smile – every child deserves a smile – you can click here if you want to donate.

Need more ideas on how to save time this holiday season, check out these personal and professional tips to help you prepare.


When you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, here are strategies to stay focused on the joy the season brings, and rid yourself of unnecessary stress and distractions.

This video will show you how to:

– Save time this holiday season
– Focus on friends and family this holiday
– Avoid holiday season stress


May you enjoy your holiday season celebrating with friends, family and loved ones. Pay attention to what matters most and I’ll see you after the New Year.


Aussie Hugs and Champagne Kisses,

Neen James


The post Aussie Hugs and Champagne Kisses appeared first on Neen James.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Get Up and Get Going: Wake Up at 4am

wake upAre you a morning bird or a night owl? Do you know when you work best? Many studies show when we schedule our toughest, most thought provoking tasks, we should do it during the time we are most alert and focused.

For this reason, I’m sharing this fabulous piece I read in inc.com written by the brilliant @MarcelSchwantes and @petershankman about a 4 a.m wak up call. If 4 a.m. sounds crazy to you, begin simply by waking up an extra 15 minutes earlier than normal. If you typically awake by 6am, set your clock for 5:45. You’ll be ah-mazed with what you can accomplish.

I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did!


A few days ago, I shared my thoughts on what billionaire entrepreneurs do to stay productive in their spare time.

What I didn’t know is that there’s a recent productivity trend on the rise. A number of successful leaders and entrepreneurs, I have found, are declaring that they are most productive while the majority of us are still under the covers in a deep sleep.

The 4 a.m. productivity shift.

A new report published in the Wall Street Journal says that 4 a.m. may be the most productive time of the day. The reasons behind the increased productivity at such an ungodly hour include:

  • Minimal distractions (like kids or work) before the sun rises.
  • No one is emailing or texting you.
  • There’s less to see on social media.

Productivity in this context may not necessarily be work-related. The trend seems to be pointing toward reserving this “sacred time” for things that will energize you and set you up for success the rest of the day — self-care, exercise, family time, personal growth, and spiritual connection.

Among the most famous executives who are coming out to say 4 a.m. is the way to go:

  • Tim Cook: The Apple CEO actually starts his morning routine at 3:45 a.m.
  • Sallie Krawcheck: The chief executive of Ellevest has written, “I’m never more productive than at 4 a.m.”
  • Richard Branson: The billionaire entrepreneur actually wakes up a tad later, at 5 a.m., to exercise and spend time with family. He says it “puts me in a great mind frame before getting down to business.”
  • Michelle Gass: The former president of Starbucks EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Russia, Africa) and now chief merchandising and customer officer at Kohl’s department stores, sets her alarm for 4:30 a.m. to go running.
  • David Cush: The Virgin America CEO wakes up at 4:15 a.m to call business associates on the East Coast, then he’ll listen to sports radio, read the paper and hit the gym.

There is a tradeoff. Getting up before the crack of dawn means falling asleep earlier–much earlier. That could mean less social time with friends or downtime to catch that important playoff night game.

Peter Shankman, a 44-year-old entrepreneur and speaker based in New York City says in the Wall Street Journal article, “I’m exhausted, but in a good way, which means I won’t have the energy to do something stupid like eat two gallons of Ben & Jerry’s at 10:30 p.m.”

10 smart hacks that will encourage your new morning shift.

If you’re wondering what to do with your early-morning time that will get your day off to a productive start, I suggest these 10 things.

1. Meditate.

Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington both start their morning with 20 to 30 minutes of meditation. Oprah says, “only from that space can you create your best work and your best life.” Setting aside this little morning ritual can make the rest of your day seem manageable. You’ll notice a weight come off your shoulders.

2. Start with an early workout.

Exercise is an obvious running theme (no pun intended) here. Entrepreneur Russ Perry jumps on the first gym class of the day, at 5 a.m. “I’ve actually made some friends with similar schedules and lifestyles,” Perry told Journal.

3. Do this breathing exercise.

Shawn Achor, Harvard-trained happiness researcher and best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage, tells us to breathe and watch our breath go in and out for two minutes. He says do this every day. This allows your brain to focus on one thing at a time and, Achor says, it will improve levels of happiness and drop stress levels.

4. Sleep in your workout gear.

Shankman also told Journal he sleeps in his gym clothes and puts his sneakers on within 10 seconds of waking up. “It’s very hard to go back to sleep once your shoes are on.”

5. Find a reason to get up.

It sounds like a cliché but: What gets you up in the morning? Really, I’m asking. Don’t wake up at 4 a.m. for the heck of it. Have a plan–something you want to do for yourself, preferably something fun or stimulating that will bring excitement to your day.

6. Change the location of your alarm clock.

Having your alarm clock (or smartphone) next to your bed and within arm’s length is the number one reason most people can’t get up in the morning. How many times have you turned off your alarm without being alert enough to know that you turned it off? Exactly. Best place for it is in the bathroom since you’re headed there anyway to shower and do your morning “business.”

7. Imagine what you could do with an extra hour.

This is a creativity exercise, so picture in your mind: what would you do if you had an extra hour in the day? Would you use it to exercise? Read more? Cook breakfast for the kids? Water your garden? Take the dog for that long walk you know it will love?

8. Whatever you do, don’t skip a healthy breakfast.

Trade your bowl of sugary cereal for something healthy like oatmeal or a protein berry smoothie (have all the parts cut up the night before and ready to be blended). You’ll avoid being tired and hungry later when the sugar jolt wears off. Try fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and lean protein options that will keep you going until lunch time. The Beachbody Blog offers these excellent meal choices to fuel your morning.

9. Set three goals for the day.

Again, don’t think daily tasks on your work to-do list. The most successful people start the day by putting their mental focus on something that will make them better. What will grow you, give you more energy, make you happier, and set the stage for an epic productive day?

10. Clear your inbox.

If you choose to use this time slot for work-related tasks, you could plan to answer all your emails and messages from the previous day or week. If you’re that hardcore, more power to you: Challenge yourself to having a “zero inbox policy” by 6 a.m.

Closing thoughts.

Need a boost to make it happen? Try following #21earlydays, where early-risers challenge themselves to wake up 21 consecutive workdays at 4:30 a.m.–something started by entrepreneur and Prodsmart marketing manager Filipe Castro Matos. He even documents what he learned along his 21-day journey and passes on 12 tips on this Medium blog.




The post Get Up and Get Going: Wake Up at 4am appeared first on Neen James.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Decking the Halls and Dealing with Deadlines

How to Keep Your Productivity High and STILL Enjoy the Season

holiday deadlines

Holidays have you decking the halls while simultaneously trying to slide in under deadlines? Feeling less ho-ho-ho and more ho-hum because time seems to be ticking faster than a New Year’s Eve ball-dropping countdown? I know. It may be the most magical time of year for some but for many in today’s 24/7 world there’s a whole lot of stress served up along with those holiday trimmings.

If that sounds like you and you’re raising your hand like little Cindy Lou Who, let’s take a look at a list of 10 deadline strategies that are less about naughty and nice and all about crushing your productivity while still having time for those reindeer games.

  1. 15 Minute Mental List Release: Give your memory a break during the hustle and bustle. Take 15 minutes each morning to just do download your “mental list” of everything on your work/home to-do list and create a plan. Take tip from sales training pro and author Brian Tracy who shared, “It takes only about 10 to 12 minutes for you to plan out your day, but this small investment of time will save you up to two hours (100 to 120 minutes) in wasted time and diffused effort through the day.” We could all use time savings like that! I also loved Megan Kristel’s tips for how to be happy in 15 minutes each day – click here for more.
  2. One stop shopping: No time for mall madness or dashing through the snow?  Let your fingers do the walking.  Shopping online is perfect for knocking out your gift list on a deadline, having everything delivered timely, and many stores offer gift wrapping options. You can even “gift” Amazon Prime memberships now – how about that?
  3. Give experiences. Instead of a candle, wine or standard gift – you may consider giving an “experience” instead.  “The reason experiential gifts are more socially connecting is that they tend to be more emotionally evocative,” says Cindy Chan, an expert on consumer relationships. Have fun with it. Gift cards are also now available in wide varieties. One fun idea for couples or families are gift cards for the movies. It’s a luxury for a lot of people now and they’ll think of you fondly when they get to go on date night or have a nigh t out for fun with the kids! Put a bag of popcorn in a padded envelope with the movie gift cards and you’ve got an awesome gift. Restaurants, spas, or gift certificates to an interactive experience like the Escape Rooms or Rock Climbing places that are cropping up everywhere are terrific ideas as well.
  4. Help with the clean sweep: Book a cleaning service to do some of your heavy lifting this season. Think of it as a gift you give yourself, your business, and your family. According to Meagan Francis, author of thehappiesthome.com, hiring someone to clean your home, especially during stressful times, is a smart management decision – it allows you to focus on bottom line production. It’s also good for the health of your family (be gone dust mites), and wonderful for your mental well-being.
  5. Put your VIPs on the top of your list: While you’re filling your calendar, be sure that high achieving team members are made to feel special with some one-on-one time and reward high performers with an early afternoon.  Time off is a hot commodity this time of year!
  6. Ring-a-ling: Be sure you are setting aside a solid 15 minutes every day to call clients with a warm holiday wish.  I love the advice Fordyce Letter of Recruiting Straight Talk shares, “For certain clients and prospects, a quick telephone call to wish them a happy holiday goes a long way to separating yourself from the competition. If you get their voicemail simply offer your best wishes and let them know you will follow-up in the New Year. Too many rule out the telephone at this time of year when it should be your first choice.”
  7. Gifting inspired action: Want a great gift idea? Think powerful productivity, communication or success books for your team that will fire them up for the new year. I recommend Folding Time  (of course because this is my book!), Steal the Show (Michael Port’s great book makes a great gift for anyone in your life), and Fascinate (Sally Hogshead is a great speaker and friend and this book is awesome) … if you need more recommendations check out our blog.
  8. Delegate: More than almost any other time, delegate all the little things you can so you can stay focused on achieving your highest priority items. From family members to assistants, to virtual assistants to the neighbor’s college kid that is home on break and needs some holiday cash.  Take those pesky items on your to do list that you don’t want or need to do and delegate! When it comes to deadlines, many hands make light work.
  9. Exercise: I said it. I know no one wants to think about it when there’s Christmas cookies to nibble and nog to sip.  Without keeping our health and body on the list, we won’t have the energy we need to be our most productive selves.  Might it require a little earlier rise in the morning or a shift in schedule? Probably. But you’ll feel better and you can try that slice of pie guilt-free!
  10. Make family and friends a priority: If you’re like most top producers, there are times of year your family thinks you might be in stealth mode. Be sure this isn’t that time.  Schedule in fun. Decorating. Laughing. Holiday movie watching. Down time.  All work and no play never made anyone happier.  Find the balance. Calm the chaos, stop and enjoy being in the present with everyone you meet today. And give generously of your time, smiles, hugs and encouragement.
  11. Hire a coach or mentor: No idea how to achieve that balance thing we just mentioned? Feel like you’re just not quite where you want to be? Then this is the perfect time of year, while you’re goal-setting and reviewing your accomplishments from the past twelve months to consider taking your career and life to the next level by bringing on a coach that can help you streamline your strategies, manager your time, and establish a healthy life and business balance. I love this quote by Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com, “Business coaches have one goal: to make your ideas into a reality. Although you may have many brilliant ideas for your company, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start and what to tackle first. Business coaches will evaluate your plans, assess if they are realistic or will be successful and set out a way that you can implement them correctly.”  Read this great article in Inc.com with the top ten reasons to hire a coach and if I can help you as a business mentor, I am only an email away, let’s connect! .

Now, go out there and love every minute of the rest of this sensational season.  Breathe deep. Smile big. Get the most out of each day.  And know I’m here to help every step of the way!

The happiest of holidays to you!

The post Decking the Halls and Dealing with Deadlines appeared first on Neen James.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Reflect On Your Success-Prepare for Next Year

reflect think consider thankThe end of the year often makes us reflect and consider the successes we’ve had and who we have to thank for them.

It’s too easy, throughout the year, to lose focus of our priorities and instead, focus on our daily to-do lists.

I once read a blog by the ah-mazing thought leader, Brian Tracy, who shared that we need to decide what success looks like to each of us.

He went on to outline that he measures success in the following areas:

  1. Peace of mind
  2. Health and increased energy
  3. Happy relationships
  4. Financial freedom
  5. Goals and ideals
  6. Self awareness
  7. Personal fulfillment

He has it pretty much covered with this list.


Define Success Measures:

We each measure our success differently and it is sometimes not until an area of our life isn’t going so well that things start to change and we are reminded of our success filters. If someone close to you gets cancer you realize how fortunate you are to have your health, if someone you know gets a divorce you quietly give thanks for the relationship that you are in, if someone is going through financial hardship you say a silent prayer of thanks for your job or your business.

We all measure success in different ways. How do you measure your success?


Identify Success Contributors:

When you reflect on the success you’ve had this year, do you also pay attention to those people who have helped you achieve success? Perhaps, now is the time. No matter how you show gratitude, ensure that you do. Consider all those behind the scenes and ensure they get credit where it’s due.Take a moment to express gratitude for your success.  Invest time to thank someone for their role in your success, remind someone you share your life with how important they are.


Define Success for the New Year:

Now is the time to consider what success will look like in the new year. Perhaps you’ll focus more intently on your health. How can you improve upon it over the next 12 months? What goals do you want to personally and professionally achieve, and who has the power to help you reach them? How are you going to show those in your life continued gratitude and attention throughout the year? How will you refocus your time so that you may pay more attention to what matters most throughout the year?


I’d love hear who you contribute your success to and how you will focus your time, energy and attention next year.

The post Reflect On Your Success-Prepare for Next Year appeared first on Neen James.

Monday, December 05, 2016

This Holiday Season, Pay Attention to What Matters Most

holiday seasonThe excitement of the holidays is here which often leaves us feeling as if we have more on our ‘to do’ list than there are hours in the day!

A common area of stress for many is finding the time to get ready for holidays while actually enjoying the celebration the holiday season brings. In order to spend your time, energy and attention enjoying your holiday season, get pay attention now and worry less later.

Get Time Wise:

Cancel unnecessary meetings or appointments that can wait until after the New Year.

Set out of office messages on your email and change your voicemail to properly set expectations for when calls will be returned.

Schedule virtual champagne or wine date on Skype instead of face-to-face meetings– no travel time!

Say NO to events you don’t desperately want to attend.

Schedule team functions and thank you events during regular business hours.

Combine holiday events and host one party or cocktail event with a diverse range of people …voila – more fun, more people, less time!


Proactively Prepare:

Make a holiday ‘to do’ list – include activities you want to complete at home, those you want to outsource and your shopping ‘to do’ list. Sit down for 15 minutes, do a brain dump – I promise you will feel lighter!

Clean  – yep that’s right! If you have to do it yourself, and you want just do a quick tidy up around the house set your alarm and do as much as you can in 15 minutes! That is it! No more, no less – just 15 minutes. You will be astounded what you can achieve!

Change linens – it is great at night to snuggle up into flannel sheet sets. Allocate time to change over all the linens in each room. Do it all on the same day so it makes it easier to remember when they all need to be changed again.

Arrange your guest room -clean, tidy, dust and make some closet space for your guests. This is a great time of year for unexpected visitors so make sure your guest room is ready for anyone that might drop in for a visit or stay over after a meal.

Set up candles – candle light is so much more forgiving than bright lights. Use the dimmer switches or light candles, no one will know if you house is clean or not!

Decorate – choose a room, choose a color theme and choose the things that will make the most impact. Now go! You could spend 15 minutes on each room if you want. If you don’t get it all done, make another appointment with yourself to complete it.

Research recipe books – pull out all the relevant recipe books that you want to use and mark the recipes you will be making. Sit down in one place, in one sitting and make a list of every ingredient you are going to need for your special meal. This will prevent multiple trips to the store (or multiple orders online).

Order fresh flowers – these add a special touch to your home during this busy time; they create beauty and will be appreciated by those around you. You can have special holiday arrangements delivered by many companies, I like www.1800flowers.com – it is nice to receive flowers (even if you do have to order them yourself)!

Spend 15 minutes searching for serving platters – search your pantry, your cupboards and your basement for all those large platters you like to use during the holidays. Decide which food will be displayed on which platter. I always place them all on the counter top the day of the event so I know which platters are going to be used.


Learn to Outsource:

Hire a cleaning service – I love Harmony Clean because they use natural products and they are fabulous in Bucks County. Take 15 minutes to seek out your local service and schedule a clean; it is worth every cent I promise you!  Book a special onetime clean – if you know you have company coming, a party or a gathering of people; consider hiring the experts to clean your home from top to bottom. This will also make it easier for you to maintain during the holidays.  

Shop online – instead of spending time in stores, determine how many gifts and items you can buy online (from the comfort of your own home). You might also end up spending less money as you won’t be distracted by the other items in store.

Dry Cleaners – outsource your linens; take your table cloths, matching serviettes and any other linens you might need for your holidays, to your local dry cleaner and ask them to press them, this will save you time.

Spend 15 minutes chatting to party hire – a senior executive, one of my clients, says she simply phones the party hire store and tells them how many people she has coming for a meal and they deliver the cutlery, crockery, linens, candles and extra seats and tables she requires. She rinses off the crockery and they come and pick it all up – no cleaning, no fuss. Can you reach out to your local party hire store and see if they provide this service?

Order groceries online – order from your favourite supermarket and have them delivered to your home. For a small tip to the delivery person, you will save so much time and it also means you won’t have to carry them indoors during the cold weather.

Order your main ingredients – if you like to have a ham or turkey on the holiday table, now is the time to place your order for those items and any special order pies you might want. Search out your local farmers market or local produce store.

Sweet talk some help – during this busy season there are many services that can help you feel less stressed and give you more time. Consider online shopping services, personal chefs, and dry cleaners, cleaning services, flower delivery and local school children. You might be able to recruit local neighbourhood kids to help you with the many chores you need to get done. I pay my neighbors to help me achieve my ‘to do’ list.

For more strategies to help you stay focused on the joy the season brings, and rid yourself of unnecessary stress and distractions, watch this:

This video will show you how to:

– Save time this holiday season
– Focus on friends and family this holiday
– Avoid holiday season stress


The holiday season is for focusing on friends and family, it is not meant to be a stressful, busy time. This year, decide to stop trying to do it all and instead, pay attention to what matters most. We’d love to hear your strategies for how you remain focused throughout the holidays. Share in the comments below.

The post This Holiday Season, Pay Attention to What Matters Most appeared first on Neen James.