Practical Productivity with Neen James

Today we are thrilled to share another interview we did specifically for Escape Lab. Enjoy this lively chat about life and productivity with the brilliant Neen James, a princess of productivity! Fun facts: this Aussie native collects fabulous shoes and loves riding Harley Davidson motorcycles.

As you watch the video, make sure your Adventure Journal is nearby to jot down some of the wisdom that Neen drops!

[ Get the transcript. ]

Extra Stuff

• Visit:, to learn more about Neen and her work.
• Check Out: Folding Time, Neen’s latest book about consciously choosing to invest half the time but expecting twice the results.
• Watch: AussieNeen, a channel of more great videos from Neen.

Today, we continued the theme of time, and the importance of investing it in what really matters. Neen offered some great insights, but we also know that there is a lot of great wisdom right here in this group.

What’s YOUR best productivity tip? Also, feel free to share your favorite takeaway from the interview with Neen.


  1. Nickie Hammontree Nickie Hammontree says:

    Something that I have noticed this week is that I am correlating the Escape Lab with a study we are doing at church. I loved listening to Neen and she reached an area for me that pointed out that I need to not take myself so seriously. I do use up all my nice up at work and don’t bring any home to the family! I don’t think I have a best productivity tip yet, but I certainly hope to pick up some here. I have been wearing my Bee Optimistic Pin regularly and getting a lot of comments on what a good idea it is to remind your self to be optimistic!

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      “I do use up all my nice up at work and don’t bring any home to the family!” I think this is a VERY common challenge for MANY people. You are not alone! Glad to hear the Bee pin is connecting!

  2. Rhonda Drexler Rhonda Drexler says:

    My favorite take away from Neen’s conversation is to put the phone down and enjoy the people around you. My husband and I have been together for 20 years and I always think “what could we possibly have to talk about” so we sit next to each other and we are on our phones instead of talking. It dawns on me that by doing that, we are finding out what everyone else is doing or thinking on facebook, but not talking about what we can do or think. Even my teenage daughter said “Geez! you guys are worse than teenagers.” Funny :) Anyway, I will go home today and actually look at the man :) I’m sure he will get a kick out of it. It’s a good thing we are so in love :)

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      We all do this! :) One time at a retreat we were paired with someone else and had to stare into each other’s eyes continuously for a minute straight… it was CRAZY how intimate of an activity this was. After like 15 seconds, I felt naked, like this guy could see my soul. Kind of crazy and cool all wrapped up together.

  3. Debbie Green Debbie Green says:

    My take away is that I want to put her in my pocket and take her away!! She was so infectious and delightful! Thank you for this program, for the speakers, for you both and for lifting me up everyday!

  4. Debbie Green Debbie Green says:

    and just a side note…my 6 month old puppy messes up my productivity everyday!

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    • Sarah Welke Sarah Welke says:

      “Mud? What mud? I think that must have been the cat…my face? Oh, that is just my cuteness leaking.”

    • Kimberly McCue Kimberly McCue says:

      Aww, what a sweetie! My dog messes up my productivity because she’s so cute sometimes I can’t wrench myself away from her!

    • Becky Reisinger Becky Reisinger says:

      Oh yes, I know that feeling. I have a 7 month old puppy and she is quite a handful. That reminds me…it is really quiet, she must be doing something bad. :-)

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      • Debbie Green Debbie Green says:

        that’s just it, Becky! Even when they are quiet you stop what you are doing to go check because you can’t trust them for a minute! Love your picture! God made them sooo cute for a reason!

    • Nickie Hammontree Nickie Hammontree says:

      What a innocent puppy…..there’s no way that one can cause trouble!

    • Jen de Ridder Jen de Ridder says:

      Puppies never cause productivity issues….hahahaha! Couldn’t even think about it without giggling.

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  5. Kimberly McCue Kimberly McCue says:

    My favorite takeaway from this video is to remember that each of us is only one person. I often feel like I can or have to take on more than I can realistically handle, and usually I only remember that I’m just one person once I’m completely overwhelmed and at my breaking point. This would be a good thing to keep in mind.
    One of my productivity tips is just making sure to do things with intention. If I don’t have anything particular in mind, sometimes that’s when my mind starts drifting (I’m kind of a space case lol) or wasting time doing stuff like watching youtube. If I keep my focus on what I’m doing now or what I’ll be doing next, even if it’s something fun, it helps me make much better use of my time.

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      I love this tip, Kimberly! I have the whole day with the kids tomorrow… and I’m going to try to be intentional (maybe even in 15 min. chunks, like Neen suggests) and see how it all unfolds.

  6. Becky Reisinger Becky Reisinger says:

    I am a list girl…but as Neen mentioned, the list is often overwhelming and more than I could tackle in any realistic time frame. I try to prioritize it, but life rearranges it for me! Before I head off to bed, I do make sure that my running work to-do list is updated for the next day, so I got that base covered. But everything that Need said really resonated with me. And then I started jotting notes furiously trying to catch everything she said. LOL! Here are my favorite takeaways:
    1) Make a list of your 3 “must do’s” for the day – they are not negotiable
    2) Think of time in 15 minute increments instead of hours (small bites are easier to chew)
    3) No weekend work emails which steal minutes from other people. If need to get something off your brain, write it and send on Monday.
    4) Give 100% to work and family gets leftovers

    Thank you for including her book in the kit and thank you for sharing the interview.

  7. Jackie Ward Jackie Ward says:

    WOW! Neen James is truly a remarkable, amazing women of the true “Ah!” she has created for 2015. I am excited to share in her journey of how she picks her word for the year. For 2015 I gave each of my team the book My One Word, Jon Gordon. Jon has been an inspiration since I had time to chat with him one on one with a few other Directors and Owners of national child care centers before he did a keynote at a Director’s conference. My team has also read Energy Bus as well. We each choose one word for 2015 and look forward to the journey to support each other. I love ” Busy is not productive”. I am inspired about finding my 15 dedicated minutes as my daily key investment. I do need those Top 3 non-negociables! I am truly energized by Neen and my heart sings for the opportunity to be inspired to be my best. Thanks to Kim & Jason for making this happen. You guys are my Rock Stars!

  8. Angela Dunlap Angela Dunlap says:

    I have a bunch of stuff to accomplish this weekend, but I’m Cujo sitting for my sister and brother-in-law. They are spending time with their 27-year-old daughter, who lives only two hours away but who has some seemingly undiagnosable medical condition. She got some test results today and the news was “bad,” but my sister didn’t elaborate – it was a text. Doctors are considering doing a case study on her, which means they’ll pay for tests and meds to figure out what’s happening. (My niece works in the medical field, so she’s excited about that part.) So, instead of being at home grading English papers and preparing for class next week, I’ve used this time spent helping my sister for myself – rather selfish of me, but Cujo doesn’t mind. The tip, I guess, in all of this, is that I’ve learned to allow myself down time now in order to get stuff done later. If I forced myself to do the grading, preparing, etc., now, I would not be as productive as I will be tomorrow when I’m well-rested and the dog isn’t as lonely because he’s been home alone all day.

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  9. Avatar Lynn Major says:

    I am so a cross that off my list person. My problem is that my daily lists are too long and at the end of the day when part of the list still remains I feel defeated. I love the idea of only 3 meaningful things. Let’s face it most of the items on my list are really of no importance and no one other than me will care if the item was taken care of today or tomorrow or next year. I think my word for 2015 is productive, remembering that “Busy is not productive”.

  10. Jason Love Jason Love says:

    The newest productivity tip I learned from the Creative Confidants Podcast (I just can’t remember which episode). They talk about finding things you don’t want to do and make it hard to do those things.

    The example they give is, take the batteries out of the remote if you want to reduce TV watching. This reminded me of Neen’s recommendation with software that limits social media time or limiting specific tasks to specific devices.

    I’ve been keeping my laptop plug in the basement office. This means if I try to do work during family time I am limited to my computer’s battery life which is 90 minutes. When the battery goes dead, I go plug it back in and spend time with the family without the temptations “quickly” checking my email or something else.

  11. Avatar Dave Timmerman says:

    I actually have quotes all over my work space to remind me of whats important. I have the quote Don’t take yourself so seriously!

  12. Sarah Tipperreiter Sarah Tipperreiter says:

    Wow, great stuff from Neen! I can’t wait to dig into her book. She is such a bundle of energy, it’s infectious! I’ve learned two productivity tips for myself in the past year:
    1. Turn OFF Facebook and personal email while I’m trying to work. When my mind wanders or I have trouble figuring something out for work, it’s like a reflex to turn to FB for some mind-numbing. If I literally keep it off my screen, then I have to physically type in the address or log in on my phone, which sometimes gives me the 2 seconds I need to come to my senses.
    2. The only way I can work out is first thing in the morning. I hate cardio, but love weights, so if I can get myself into the gym before my brain starts racing with work worries, I’ll get a workout in (and if I’m already there, I’ll force myself onto the elliptical, too.)
    Here’s a photo of my favorite distraction!

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    • Great tips, Sarah! And a cute distraction!

    • Melissa LeFever Melissa LeFever says:

      That is the best picture- smart kitty! I agree on the FB idea- on my phone I don’t have it on the main screen, but have to go through a few pages to get to it and that is my way of checking “do i really want to do this now?”

  13. Angela Dunlap Angela Dunlap says:

    I have been putting three things on my list at work for each day; it has completely made a difference in what I get done, how I get it done and how I feel when I go home for the day. Thank you for sharing Neen with us. Please tell her she has made a positive difference the next time you communicate with her.

  14. Melissa LeFever Melissa LeFever says:

    I had listened to or read all the Lab posts but this one until now. I started reading the book at work this week- taking a few minutes a day to just absorb some of the goodness. I have a salaried position and it feels like I am sometimes paid not just to be busy but to act busy :( There was so much truth in what Neen spoke about regarding the pace of things and technology changing everything. It really is up to leaders to set the pace- I know my boss works all hours day/night/weekend and it does set up an expectation… hmmm… perhaps I will pass along this wonderful book to her when I am done :)
    I have the post its on my desk (I’m smiling just thinking of them because right now they happen to be bright neon pink and will make me remember this talk) and am definitely going to think about the 3 things tomorrow and the 15 minutes.

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