Balancing today and tomorrow is a monumental task
Balancing today and tomorrow is a monumental task
24 AUGUST 2018 7:15 AM

More and more of our time and headspace seems to be devoted to forward-thinking strategy, but it’s OK to admit that’s challenging as we cope with more immediate concerns.

So maybe my perspective is a bit skewed, but it seems like the expectations and thinking in the workplace are putting more and more emphasis on proactive and strategic thinking. This is clearly a good thing, as we all want to stay ahead of the curve, but anyone in that position should feel free to give themselves a little bit of leeway to feel overwhelmed in the face of not just those long-term planning challenges but the more immediate, day-to-day tasks we still must overcome.

Strategy has been the key word for me at work of late, in part because revenue strategy was a huge part of discussions at last week’s Hotel Data Conference and because after returning to Cleveland from Nashville, we immediately jumped into our annual strategy sessions.

That span of a half of a week seemed to perfectly encapsulate what’s so invigorating and challenging about this shift in mindset. While it’s always fun, interesting and energizing to think about the future and the limitless potential it holds, there is also that nagging voice in the back of your head reminding you that you have X, Y and Z that still need to get done ASAP and every moment you’re not working on those tasks is a missed opportunity.

For a long time, I think I subconsciously equated this to being a journalist’s problem. By nature and habit, journalists exist very much in the moment. We are constantly reacting to a torrent of information swirling around us, and any distraction seems to run contrary to the mission of quickly and accurately relaying the most important pieces of info to our audience.

But the more I think about it, the more I feel like it’s a somewhat universal experience that is likely felt acutely within the hotel industry. That’s probably especially true on-property for people like GMs or revenue managers, for example. Just like your typical journalist, they have pressing day-to-day concerns that would seem to supersede the need and desire for more long-term thinking.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking the near-term issues should always take precedent because they are right in front of you all the time and have a much clearer sense of urgency. The problem with that is they never go away. This idea that you’ll get through all the things you need to get through so you’ll be able to calmly and leisurely tackle all sorts of big questions is a lie we all tell ourselves so we don’t feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work we all have to get through all the time.

So if I can give you one useful piece of advice today, it’s this: Budget time within your scheduled for the more nebulous stuff. If you don’t specifically set aside that time, it will never feel like the right time to deal with it. But when you do set it aside and start digging into strategy or planning or whatever, it will quickly become clear to you how essential, and likely overdue, that work really is.

As key as it is to check people in and clean rooms, the hotel industry would be in chaos if that’s all anyone ever did. So make time for the other stuff, even if it feels like you don’t have any time to spare.

What do you think? Let me know via email or on Twitter.

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