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Tips to Stay Sharp

How sharp is your saw?

Stephen R. Covey first popularized the concept of “sharpening the saw” in his 1989 bestseller “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Since then, the idea has been taken up by nearly every leadership, productivity and personal growth guru in the country.

The term comes from a simple illustration: Two woodcutters go into the forest to break down the trunk of a fallen tree. One immediately begins sawing away at the giant tree trunk. But he soon becomes tired, and his progress slows. The other worker, though, takes a few minutes to sharpen his saw before cutting into the tree. And although he started sawing after the first man, he manages to cut all the way through the trunk more quickly and with less effort because his saw is sharp.

To do your best work, you must sharpen your saw by investing in yourself. You need to expose your mind to new ideas, build new relationships, surround yourself with creativity and take time to restore your physical, mental and emotional energy.

Here are five simple ways to sharpen your saw while working in tourism.

1.) Read and listen.

Staying mentally sharp requires learning new things, and there has never been a better time to do that. The abundance of great blogs, podcasts and audiobooks available today makes it incredibly easy to learn new ideas from national thought leaders, often while driving, exercising or traveling. Learning from people outside your field can help inspire new ideas that you can apply to your everyday life.

2.) Take advantage of events.

Conferences and events have become staples of the tourism industry, but many travel planners and suppliers alike fail to take full advantage of them. In addition to attending business appointments and enjoying evenings out with old friends, soak up the content offered at seminars and breakouts. Leaning into these educational sessions will put you in a frame of mind to be creative and solve problems.

3.) Cultivate relationships intentionally.

The older we get, the less time we tend to invest in making new friends and maintaining relationships with old ones. But active, vibrant friendships are an important part of mental health and professional growth. So be intentional about growing relationships with people inside and outside the travel industry. You never know where they might take you.

4.) Learn new technology.

Technology is advancing more quickly today than at any other time in history. You might be tempted to settle with the tools you already know and let the rest of the tech world pass you by, but that’s a mistake. You don’t have to stay on top of every trend, but you should regularly try new technologies, apps and services. Some of them are incredibly simple and can save you lots of time.

5.) Prioritize rest.

Just as the woodcutter accomplished more in a shorter time by working with a sharp saw, you’ll get more done in fewer hours if you take regular time off to rest and rejuvenate. Aim for at least one day off a week, and do your best to avoid looking at work email when you’re at home. And if you travel for an extended stretch without a day off, plan some time off at home when you return.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.