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Neen James – “No agenda – no meeting!”

Neen James is a productivity thought leader, best known for her engaging keynotes that have educated and entertained audiences with real-world strategies that apply in all roles at work and in life. With a background in learning and development and managing large teams at various corporations, Neen James also provides one-on-one consulting and mentoring on a variety of business issues and topics.


1. Why does efficient time management make sense?

James: “Time is the most important idea right now! If self-actualization was the idea for the last decade then being productive is the idea for the next! We have to all be able to do more with less in the future. Creative professionals who cannot produce to deadline will see their competitive advantage eroded by flattened globalized market place. Overnight while you sleep an alternative creative is working through the night to deliver the brief. The principles of waste impact not only on time but also on resources. We need to be more resourceful to survive as a race into the future and beyond.” (Extract from James’ book “Folding Time”)

2. What is the biggest mistake impeding efficient time management?

James: “Distraction – people are constantly connected to devices and online and they are splitting their time and attention in multiple places and not achieving a sense of completion of tasks and projects.”

3. Where should I begin, if I want to keep my appointments better?

James: “No agenda – no meeting! If you don’t know why you are meeting with someone then don’t meet. Cancel. If you have a great purpose for a meeting and an agenda then the appointment will be beneficial. Shorten all appointments – halve the time you think you need and you will achieve twice as much in half the time. Build in-between time – if you are racing from one appointment to the next allow travel time.”

4. What are the basics for meeting all my deadlines?

James: “Be accountable – declare when you are going to achieve the deadline, make it public (you are more likely to achieve it if you feel accountable to someone). Get an accountability partner and meet with them weekly to share your goals and achievements. Say No – to achieve all you need to achieve means also knowing how to say No to the things that don’t matter and YES to the things that do.”

5. How can I strengthen my willpower to follow my plans?

James: “Think in 15-minutes increments – set the alarm on your iPhone or computer and focus intently for 15 minutes on the task or project… once the alarm goes off then decide if you are going to continue or move onto the next activity. Make it a game – determine your reward once you complete your plans i.e. go for a walk, make a coffee, check Facebook, call a friend – a game gives it a lightness and you will be more likely to complete it. ”

6. What can I do if others complicate my own time management?

James: “Stand up – when someone comes into your office or your cubicle – stand up. They won’t know if you are coming or going and they are more likely to get to the point. A standing meeting is a quick meeting.
Use do-not-disturb strategies – i.e. headphones in an open plan, closed door in an office or an actual sign. Advise team members if you have your ‘do no disturb’ sign on that you are wanting to complete a project without interruption, people will respect your request if you tell them in advance. Make an appointment – encourage people to book a short appointment to achieve what they need from you so you can both focus on what is required instead of the spontaneous, frequent interruptions. Be honest – share you are on deadline to complete a project and would appreciate their support in allowing you the time and attention needed to get it done.”

7. What is the difference between time management in private life and in professional life?

James: “There is no difference! We don’t have time to do everything; we only have time to do what matters. We need to determine what is most important at work and at home and focus on those activities, projects or people. We often give more importance to our professional life because we are being paid to do a job and yet it is our personal life that is vitally more important because jobs come and go, but our relationships are fundamentally more important. We need to get more done at work so we can go home and create significant moments in life that matter.”

8. What personal price do I have to pay for more efficiency?

James: “Sometimes you might cause friction with people who want you to be on call to them and available for every interruption. You need to communicate clearly with people in your life of your highest priorities.
Not everyone at home or at work will agree with your priorities so you need to be prepared to stay true to your areas of focus and do what must be done to complete those things. If you want to succeed you also have to invest your time in your health so you have stamina to complete everything. That might mean sacrificing foods, time with others and social occasions. Your health needs to be a priority.”

9. What success does a better time management yield?

James: “Stronger relationships, greater self-esteem, increased health and fitness, more profitable businesses and practices, satisfied clients, projects completed on time, reduced staff turnover, and reduced absenteeism, overall greater sense of well-being.”

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