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Focus Through Chaos

Jon Sholter


Today, in less than 5 minutes, we're going to cover the following:

1. The secret sauce to taking your hotel to the next level.

2. A challenge to evaluate your time and your team's time.


Working from home is just a dream for many hotel managers.

The world made a bit of a shift during the pandemic, but for most of us in the industry, the routine stayed the same.

The hotel doesn't feel like a traditional office job even with management positions. There's always an overflow phone call to answer, a leak to look at somewhere, or a guest who doesn't want to pay a cancellation fee for a room they forgot to cancel on a sold-out night. Distractions are endless and productivity can sometimes be minimal.

The reality is a lot of us in the hotel industry grew up on the front lines and were promoted from within. We were customer-facing, juggling multiple issues at once. Multitasking is a positive trait, but it doesn't translate into back-office productivity.

If this is something you struggle with, you're not alone. A recent hotel survey cited 95% of respondents agree to being unproductive. Does this number seem high? It should be because we just made it up. There was no survey.

Even without a survey, we all know it's true. So what to do about it? Here are some exercises you can implement immediately.

Start tracking your urgent and important tasks: Put the time of day and how long each task takes. Do this for a couple of weeks. Answering an overflow reservation call and talking for 15 minutes urgent. A guest has a request that you need to handle, urgent. Conducting coaching sessions with your team members, important. Analyzing how many low-rated rooms you rented on a sold-out night important. See the difference?

As a leader, you want more time for important tasks and protect yourself from urgent ones. If you have leadership positions you oversee, be sure to get them to do this as well. When people tell you they do not have time, have them prove it to you and themselves. This exercise can highlight what tasks you must delegate or be protected from. The topic of Urgent vs Important deserves a post of its own one day.

Protect your time:

In our industry, many of us need to be customer-facing, absolutely. We need to be team member facing, absolutely. This being said, you should find time in the day to close your door and focus on the specific task at hand, uninterrupted. Don't worry, your hotel will be there when you're done. Communicate with your colleagues to find ways to protect each other's time. If you talk through the challenges, you'll all be better for it. For some, a minimal amount of flex time might be an option. Perhaps taking a morning/afternoon to work from home on specific duties might be realistic.

Make a daily calendar schedule and stick to it:

List all your Important tasks and set aside time to complete them. This is known as time blocking and is much easier said than done. Know what you are doing and when you are doing it. Get into routines, do the same things every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, etc. Be wise in your planning and leave some flexibility in your calendar. You do work in a hotel after all.


I believe productivity is a fundamental difference between effective and mediocre hotel teams. Almost more than any other differentiator, why? Because it's the secret sauce most hotel managers have not been taught. We've been trained to be busybodies and sitting still and focusing does not come naturally to us.

So, if you want to go on this journey, start developing your productivity system. Try and see what works for you. Start small and layer on. Try some of the book recommendations below (Leaders are Readers):


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