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Thriving in Business: Time blocking, celebrating small wins, gratitude, and regular rhythms

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How do you time block your working week? Does your team celebrate the small wins regularly? Do you create moments every week to enjoy what you’ve built?

In this three-part Thriving in Business series, we have delved into the core fundamentals of what makes the Capital Hydrotherapy and Exercise Physiology business flourish.

Five years ago, I made the outrageous goal to step away from the everyday operations of my clinic, and focus on being a present, full-time Mum for my young kids (now a newly 2-year-old, 4-year-old and 6-year-old).

It’s been a big vision which I’ve accomplished, and my family is happy and flourishing. The team I’ve created around me has been supportive of my goals, and I’m forever grateful to have them on my business-bus. The juggle now is supporting my independent team and providing them with tools to thrive as a unit.

You may recall from my previous articles, that in Australia it is estimated that:

  • One in three new small businesses fail in their first year of operation
  • Two out of four by the end of the second year, three out of four by the fifth year

What essential team culture elements are these businesses missing?

Parts one and two of Thriving in Business shared team bonding strategies, building a trusting and trustworthy team around you through daily huddles, core values and delicious food; investing time and money into the teams personal and professional development; the importance of a no-devices bubble and scheduling alignment wellness catch-ups.

This article’s focus is on time blocking, celebrating small wins and enjoying the process (every week).

Time blocking

If I don’t schedule it, it doesn’t happen.

I have a whiteboard, Asana, Slack, a handwritten diary (don’t judge me, I’m still a little old school!), a yearly calendar the entire team can see, and our trusty management booking system.

In order to keep the team connected, we have regular daily, weekly, monthly and 3-monthly rhythms, which are all-time blocked:

  • Every day we have a team huddle where we share our gratitude
  • Every week we have treatment mapping, where we share different patient’s treatment pathways, to make sure we’re we not missing a beat
  • Every week we have a bake-off, where someone bakes a delicious surprise for the entire team
  • Every fortnight we host professional development sessions for the entire team
  • Every month I schedule a meeting with the Team leader over a coffee
  • Every two months we have a Management brekky meeting—with an agenda and minutes
  • Every three months we schedule alignment catch-ups with the team to stay connected and to check in on their work-life balance

Can you see the rhythm? Time blocking is the key. Meticulous planning, so there are no surprises—I hate surprises (unless it’s cake or a holiday).

Celebrating small wins (as pictured) and gratitude

Life gets busy. One of our core values, is to go “above and beyond”—that isn’t just for the patients, that includes our team, too.

It’s important to celebrate birthdays, celebrate engagements, celebrate big life wins. It is just as important to celebrate the small wins.

It’s the best part of our week, when we step back from our busy, important day, and create some time to acknowledge our teammates. Have a laugh. Banter. Jokes.

This doesn’t happen in a busy, stressful environment. Do you schedule time to celebrate the small wins?

Every day, as a team we share our gratitude at the hydro huddle. I mentioned in other articles about our on-pool deck huddle—always on time, always standing, always in an inclusive circle.

The gratitude huddle is about focusing on the “now” and being mindful of what we do have. As a society, I believe we are less emotionally connected than ever, and I want to try to ensure our young dynamic crew don’t get all the mental problems that comes with loneliness and social media obsession.

Studies have indicated associations between practicing gratitude and improvements in emotional wellbeing, and fewer symptoms of anxiety and stress.

Practicing gratitude at work has also shown to correlate with greater personal accomplishment, job satisfaction, improved work wellbeing and reduced burnout (if you’re interested here’s one interesting study: Lanham, Michelle et al., ‘How gratitude relates to burnout and job satisfaction in mental health professionals’, Journal of Mental Health Counselling, vol. 34, no.4, pp 341-54).

I’d also recommend reading The Resilience Project, Finding Happiness through gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. After reading Hugh’s book, I bought 20 copies, and gave them to friends and teammates.

Weekly vision planning

Every week on a Friday, I create time to step back and think about the early days. It’s an appreciation moment—I guess you could also call it gratitude.

Remembering the struggles really motivates me. The 70-hour weeks. The invoicing on a weekend in my bedroom. The scanning at midnight. The breastfeeding in between classes when I felt mastitis coming on. The working ‘til 42 weeks, and processing the team’s pays in between contractions, while I was on the way to the hospital (not kidding!). The texting in hospital after having a c-section, hoping that the team was managing ok without me. My business was my first baby, and it’s hard to let go sometimes!

I take great satisfaction in what we provide our community, and I thoroughly enjoy what I do. We now have a team of 16 legends, host over 200 Hydrotherapy sessions, and help every day to “create an active, strong community”.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t always easy—every business owner knows the journey is a slow rollercoaster of ups and downs, twists and turns. As long as the ups continue to outweigh the upside downs, I’ll be doing this until I’m 90.

Do you schedule time regularly to appreciate what you’ve created?

What are your daily, weekly, monthly rituals around time blocking and celebrating the small wins? Do you step back every week to appreciate what you’ve created?

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