Summers can be hard for Aquatics professionals! The days are long, the to-do list often grows faster than you can check items off, and somedays remembering to complete the small tasks can be a challenge. In my early days as an operator, I would arrive at work anxious about the large number of voicemails that seemed to multiply overnight, the exhaustive to-do list staring at me from my desk, and the constant influx of people in and out of my office from the moment I arrived. It felt as though the minute I put my stuff down, I was being bombarded from all directions, and the day was in the negative before ever really beginning. I would eventually leave work at the end of the day wondering how the day got away from me, and then slowly, the anxious feelings about all the tasks I didn’t get to would creep in. One day I decided to take control of the chaos! A quick google search on how to add more time in your day brings you to a simple solution ROUTINES! Here are what some in the research community are saying about routines: 

  • “An effective routine can help reduce stress, which can lead to better mental health, more time to relax, and less anxiety.” – Northwestern Medicine 
  • “Having a routine helps keep us on track both mentally and physically, which can help make our days more positive and productive.” -Utah State University 
  • “…having a daily routine and regular habits supports cognitive function and may even free people up to be more creative.” -Queen’s University 

Seems like a simple no-brainer – add more routine to your life, and your overall health (both mentally and physically) reaps the benefits. So, how can you add more “routine” to your daily Aquatics operations? While we all know Aquatics is anything but routine - in fact, we know to expect the unexpected – there are ways that we can add structure to our workday that help us stay connected to staff while also giving us the individual mental space we need to complete tasks and leave the day feeling accomplished. 

So, what might some routines look like on the individual and team levels? 

Individual Level 

  • Can you get to the office or facility 30 minutes earlier? Spend this time uninterrupted (aka, close the door if you need to). Knock out those voicemails, spend 15 minutes answering emails, and make a game plan for the day. 
  • Review your to-do list and write down your TOP 3 tasks for the day. These are the non-negotiables that will make you feel accomplished when you leave for the day. 
  • Set up a daily checklist for you! We do this for our team members; why not help ourselves out and do the same?  
  • Maybe it’s checking that documentation was done correctly at the facility, connecting with a team member and asking them how their day is, or checking that facilities are fully stocked with first aid and cleaning supplies so you don’t get that dreaded after-hours call. 
  • Before you leave for the day, dedicate 10 minutes to debrief the day mentally. Write down any notes or to-do’s running around in your head so that you don’t forget (and so they don’t keep you at night). Review your to-do list and write down the next day’s TOP 3.
  • Spend 5 minutes clearing your workspace. Walking into a clean workspace will help you keep the positive momentum of the morning going. 

Team Level 

Pow Wow with Staff 

Empower your Pool Managers and Head Guards to conduct Pow Wows before and after each shift. Gather staff together and give quick reminders or updates! Pump your staff up before they head out on deck. Maybe you have a pre-shift chant where you huddle up and start the day loud and proud and with some positive energy. Probably the most important and effective Pow Wow is post-shift! Highlight team members who did an outstanding job. Debrief on any incidents, whether injury-related or guest related, so all staff are equipped to handle similar situations in the future. 

Pow Wows provide a dedicated time to communicate with staff. Your Team Members know when and where to expect to hear updates and have the management team’s attention if they have any questions. 

Management Team Huddle 

Do you regularly meet with your management team? If not, set up a weekly time! As an operator, I would schedule my Management Team Huddles about an hour before in-service once a week. This is a time for the management team to connect as they typically work different shifts. This also is a time to review any policies, updates, or upcoming events, but then give the management team the opportunity to detail struggles they are having and any wins they’ve had during the week. 

Take Management Team Huddle Up Notch 

  • Set up a snack rotation for Management Team Huddle (think little league post-game snack time). One management team member is responsible for bringing the week’s snacks for everyone during the meeting. Participation can be on a volunteer basis. A meeting instantly becomes a little more bearable when food is involved, and you will be surprised by how creative the snacks become. Everyone wants to win at the snack game. Don’t forget to put yourself into the rotation occasionally. 😊
  • Make it fun and add a team-building component. Find a quick minute-to-win-it game or play a game of Kahoot.  

A consistent management team huddle gives you the opportunity to address items with the entire management team in one sitting, resulting in less time repeating yourself.  The huddle also builds in a time for your staff to approach you with questions, concerns, etc. When staff knows they will have your attention at a specific time, they may be less inclined to interrupt you throughout the day and save less pertinent questions for the huddle. 

The evidence is clear; routines help us reduce stress, make our days more positive and productive and increase overall mental health. Aquatics professionals need all the help they can get (especially during the summer)! I encourage you to evaluate your day and see where creating small routines can help reduce your workload and decompress so that you can continue showing up as your best version of yourself! 

Check out these blog posts for more ideas on streamlining operations and saving you time and money!