How often do you breeze through your day without being pulled away from your work by something demanding your attention? Chances are it's not very often.
Interruptions are so common, we've pretty much accepted them as a part of life for hoteliers. And that's a shame, because there are so many other things you could be doing. You could be taking some extra time to delight your guests, up your marketing efforts, or even – gasp – go home early.
It's tricky, I know. That's why I've outlined a few quick tips for cutting out time wasters and taking back control of your day.
Have effective meetings
Meetings are important. Definitely hold them regularly, but try to be more efficient with your time. How do you do that?
First, have a goal for your meeting. Don't hold one if there's nothing to announce or discuss. If your goal for your weekly meeting is to get everyone up to speed with what's going on in your hotel, great! Have a short meeting for that.
To keep things streamlined, it can help to write an agenda before the meeting with all the topics you want to discuss. You might even assign times to each agenda item to help you stay within limits. Keep in control. Follow up with emails afterwards if necessary, and make sure the action points are clear when you finish.
Manage staff interruptions
Saving time on staff interruptions can be a challenge. You want to be available for your staff whenever they have questions, but you don't want them to lean on you with their job too much. So how do you find that balance?
Keep that openness with your employees. But when they approach you with a question at an inconvenient time, see if you can find out the urgency of their problem. Does the problem need to be resolved now? How long do they need you for?
Try getting answers to these questions before diving in. If the problem isn't urgent, simply suggest talking about it later when you have more time to discuss it at length. That way neither of you will feel rushed, and you can get on with the most important tasks.
Limit incoming phone calls
Hotel owners and managers get pulled from what they're doing because of phone calls several times a day. Of course you don't want to cut out phone calls from guests, but other phone calls like those from suppliers or other service providers don't have to be dealt with immediately.
A way to cut back on phone call distractions is to ask those around you to text or email you with anything that isn't urgent. Promise you'll still respond in time, and explain that you're just trying to limit distractions. They will understand.
Switching off is an unlikely option for hotel owners and managers in this day and age. But as long as you have a landline that's always answered, you can definitely find a compromise.
Switch off those notifications
Your phone itself is usually a worse distraction than the people trying to reach you. Notifications pop up for messages, emails and apps, reminding you to check in regularly. One study recently found that we receive an average of 63.5 mobile notifications per day. No wonder we're so stressed.
So what can we do about it? It's pretty simple: turn those notifications off. Switching off your notifications will only take a moment, and it will save you a ton of time in the long run. Studies also found that disabling notifications reduces the number of times we pick up our phone, which makes sense.
If you don't know how to switch off your notifications, here's an article explaining how to disable notifications on your iPhone or Android device.
Thin out your inbox
Emails tend to pour in. Whenever you think you’ve cleared the bulk, another stream has come in by morning. It doesn’t end. But there are a few ways to get a grip on your inbox.
The most obvious one is to unsubscribe from newsletters (you know, the ones you never read anyway). That will thin out about half of your inbox already.
For the emails you can’t get rid of, consider setting up a filtering system. Through Gmail and other email providers you can filter specific senders into folders. That way you can separate important emails from less important emails, and manage them appropriately.
Do you feel like a boss multitasking like a professional juggler on speed? I hate to break it to you, but researchers have long agreed that multitasking kills productivity big time, and a recent study has shown that it might even lower your IQ. Yikes.
So when you have cut out all other distractions, avoid shooting yourself in the foot and focus at one task at a time. A simple to-do list can help you stay on track and stop you from becoming overwhelmed by other things that come up. Simply add them to the list and revisit them when you’ve finished what you’re doing. You'll get more done in the end.
Limit online distractions
There are endless wonders to be found on the World Wide Web. That might be why every time we set out to get work done, we end up opening a new tab and stepping right into unproductive territory. We're all guilty of it.
Fortunately, there are tools that will control you when self-control lacks. Cold Turkey is a great program that blocks any website or program you want for however long you want. There's no way to cheat with it either.
If you'd like a less drastic approach, you can use a Google Chrome extension such as Stay Focusd to block your biggest time-wasting websites, like your favorite social media or news sites.
Or, you know, you can try self control. Let me know how you go with that.