Life’s a little messy right now. And that’s okay.

It’s the second day of working from home with our handsome, brilliant, and energetic one year-old. After days of talks of the COVID-19 impact on the airline industry, news reports finally hit home for many hospitality workers. Restaurants and bars are closing around the country, and hotels are experiencing record low occupancies. Retail stores are now shuttering until it’s safe to re-open. It’s too early to tell how long the damage will last, but millions of people in the travel and hospitality industry will soon be (at least temporarily) without jobs.

Collateral damage is likely. Suppliers, intermediaries, service providers, contractors, and supportive infrastructure will all soon feel the effects.

For those of us on the fringe, still hanging on, life isn’t easy. Guilt of watching housekeepers, restaurant servers, store clerks and bartenders lose their hours while we struggle through difficult projects and conversations is overwhelming. Added to that: the prospect of furloughs, financial uncertainty and no telling when this will all get better. And even more: many of us are finding what it is like to work at home in isolation from our friends, extended family, co-workers and neighbors as we take on the new roles of caretaker and homeschooler.

“If something happens, how will we pay the bills?” “What if he screams during a conference call?” “Do we have enough in savings?” “Should we refinance the house?” “When will we ever do the dishes?” are common questions.

It’s a lot.

We’ve just entered a period of uncertainty, discomfort, and unrest all while trying to stay six feet apart from everyone else in the world.

So what can we do about it? Here are three ideas to start:

  1. Enjoy time with your family. There will never be another opportunity like this in your life to spend so much time together.
  2. Take the news in daily doses, not a constant drip. There won’t be much good news, so why not consume something you enjoy?
  3. Use social media as your balcony. Sing, play music, share a funny (but not misleading) meme. Interact with your friends and neighbors and remind everyone that we’re all going to be okay.

This isn’t going to be easy, but neither was 3rd shift, back-to-backs, opening after you closed, managing a tight turn in the ballroom or at the front desk, or covering that extra shift when you needed to be somewhere else.

Together, as an industry, we’ve been through some crazy things, too. There was 9/11, the financial crisis of 2008, Avian Flu, and countless hurricanes just to name a few. Despite all of these setbacks, we always emerged further ahead. Hotels are chicer. Retail is more luxurious. Restaurant food is better than ever. Craft cocktails raised the bar. Planes are greener. Technology is converging, and career paths are more promising.

What’s different about the service culture is that we do everything in service of others, and that spirit is what will carry us through.

Many people in the world outside of the hospitality industry don’t know the lengths that workers will go, or sacrifices that workers will make to ensure their guests feel safe, welcome, and well-taken care of. And that’s exactly what we’ll do for each other right now.

Hospitality exists when you believe that the other person is on your side.

Danny Meyer

5 Ways for Couples to Cope While Working at Home with Small Children

If you’re reading this, you’re either one of my three e-mail subscribers or have found yourself working at home amidst a pandemic while your little one(s) have been sent home from school for two or more weeks. In searching for solutions, you’ve probably found plenty of examples of couples where one parent works from home and the other keeps the house or cases where a nanny or Au Pair are present. If you’re reading this, it’s probably just you, your partner, and your little one(s) and you’re looking for things you can do to survive the next several weeks. 

Continue reading 5 Ways for Couples to Cope While Working at Home with Small Children

What did you learn from 2013?

We’re all full of great ideas. Sadly, we will fail to write most of them down. The majority of those that we will do end up trying will probably fail, and the ones that were successful? Well, we’ll never know why they worked, but we can always go back and find out why failures failed.

The end of any calendar year is the best opportunity to collect your notes, get yourself organized and size up your last twelve months. Did you accomplish your goals? Did you make progress on your multi-year goals? Do you feel that your time was well spent? What do you regret? What do you wish you had done?

For both your business and personal lives, this time of the year is the perfect opportunity to take stock of what you did, what you did well, and what you wish you did better.

What did you learn from 2013?

Finding Work-Life Balance

Photo Courtesy Fabio Bruna
Photo Courtesy Fabio Bruna

It’s a Sunday morning and I sitting in our home office. Earlier this morning I found an article on LinkedIn talking about the things you should do on Sunday to get ahead at work. The article made me think: why do we work so much and why would we work when we don’t need to?

I shared the article on Google+ and got some interesting feedback from people there. Some of them were remarking that work gives you purpose and you should do whatever it takes to be more productive so you can live a more meaningful life. Others recalled stories of workaholics that saved away for lavish retirements only to be stricken with cancer before they could enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Just like everything else, I think people need to seek balance with their work and life. Often times we talk about the “work life balance” but how many of us actually try to practice such a thing? We speak of it from a tangent as a way to justify an extra day off or with spite when talking about our mobile phones that alert us even during our times away from the office. How many of us actually work towards achieving a work-life balance though?

In my workplace I see people that leave consistently at 5 PM every day while others toil until the wee hours of the night, sometimes not leaving the office until midnight. Generally, these people share the same workload, so why does it take some so much longer than others?

Not everyone has the same proficiency with computers. Not everyone has stellar time management skills. Not everyone double or triple checks their work when they get done. We all have different ways of approaching our workload, regardless of how much work we have. Some of us are gifted with shortcuts while others have the take the long way to getting certain things done.

Because most of our work involves technology, those of us from the millennial generation have the upper hand. From a young age we were given a better understanding of the ins and outs of personal computing. A lot of us took computer programming before we even left high school which gave us the concepts of computing more efficiently. From just that grasp of a concept we can quickly create complicated spreadsheets, e-mail filters, rules and macros to help us streamline our workflow and spend less time doing redundant or menial tasks.

Older generations, or less technically-inclined co-workers don’t have those advantages and are usually left to take the “long way” to getting things done. Sure, we could share these tools, concepts and shortcuts, but without the core concepts that we were taught at such a young age, others won’t be able to formulate their own solutions to time-consuming tasks.

Instead of working harder, we should all focus on working smarter. Some of us have advantages that others don’t, but we should recognize those advantages and share what we can with others to improve their efficiency. The smarter we work, the more we can move forward.

For all of those things that take so much time, there is probably an easier way to do them. Perhaps if we all worked together we could find, implement and share solutions to make all of our work a little more easier. Then, with that extra time, we could do what we were put here to do: live.

Now that’s what I call work-life balance.

 

 

Why You Need a Good Support System

One of the freedoms of being an entrepreneur is exactly that: freedom. You can try a million different things, you can make changes on the fly and you can ultimately chose to do whatever it is you want to do however it is you want to do it. But, let’s face it, sometimes things go wrong.

Inevitably, you are going to be faced with a situation, a problem or an issue that you don’t have all of the answers for. Maybe you get too far in over your head with a particular project, or a client asks you for one thing, and it turns out they are really looking for something completely different. Having a good support system in place will make you shine in these circumstances. Continue reading Why You Need a Good Support System

How Much is Convenience Worth?

The Consumerist recently posted about two articles, one from +CNBC and the other from +The New York Times about the price of single-serving coffee packages.

I, for one, own a single-serving brewing system. I am a fan of the device (a Keurig) because it removes a lot of barriers from me brewing my own coffee. The most important of these barriers in time.

Before owning my Keurig, it took a lot of effort to brew a cup of coffee. More often than not, when I would brew a “pot” of coffee in the morning, most of it would go to waste. So, between cleaning the pot, cleaning the basket and measuring the cofee each morning I was spending a lot of time. Even after all of the preparation I would have to wait several minutes for the stuff to brew.

Now I find myself flying down the stairs with an extra 15 minutes of sleep, ready to press a button while I grab my banana and have my coffee in my thermos, the exact amount, the right temperature, perfectly fresh and all ready to go. I realize that on a “cost-per-pound” basis, this is way more than I would ever consider paying for high end coffee.

photo by rudolf_schuba on Flickr

+Starbucks Coffee offers select roasts for $13.95/lb and I’m paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $25-$30. Surely, this is way more expensive using my perfered method when viewed in a cost-per-pound perspective. However, if you look at the amount of coffee that is wasted and the amount of time spent brewing a “pot” of coffee each morning, I think I’m actually saving a lot more time and money than I would with the traditional method.

So, what’s your bottom line? What do you think the convenience is worth? Just because it costs more per pound does that mean you’re spending more overall? How do you do your coffee in the morning?

Setting Yourself Up for Success

Photo by  János Fehér (Creative Commons 3.0)
Photo by János Fehér (Creative Commons 3.0) "Sit down with a blank sheet of paper and your favorite pen. Write down a list of things that you can easily accomplish today that you would normally put off until next week."

A Productive Friday Means a Stress-Free Monday

It is the last day of the traditional work week for most nine to fivers. In fact, most people in the United States will enjoy the observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. day on Monday, so today signifies the last day of work before a three day weekend. If you are one of these traditional schedule workers, you are probably looking very forward to getting out of the office on time or early today. Continue reading Setting Yourself Up for Success

Easy Steps to Help You Manage Your Overloaded Inbox

Need a Vacation Now That You’re Back from Vacation?

Now that you are getting settled back in t your office, there was probably a mountain of e-mail, voicemail or paper awaiting you when you walked in yesterday.

Customized Priority/Task Flags
Photo by Peter G McDermott

How is it going so far?

Coming back to the office after a vacation or the holidays can be a real shock to your system. It can easily feel like all of the benefits of your vacation have been negated by the amount of pressure on your shoulders from when you first walk in the door on your first day back.

Don’t let it. The whole point of your time off is to solidify your work-life balance. If you are spending 14 hours a day working (one way or another) and 8 hours sleeping, you’re only giving yourself 2 hours to relax.

Continue reading Easy Steps to Help You Manage Your Overloaded Inbox