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Poor Ergonomics Could Be Affecting Your Productivity

Posted By Amy Geils, The Streamlined Office LLC, Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ergonomics and Productivity – Is Spending Too Much Time at Your Desk Costing You?

Are you spending too much time at your desk?  Is your body paying for it in the form of eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, or neck and back pain?  Are you or your employees experiencing decreased productivity as a result? 

There are a number of simple things that you can do.

First, limit the time you spend in one position.  

Second, take advantage of scheduled lunch breaks and meetings

Third, think about ergonomics. Ergonomics is defined as the applied science of equipment design, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort. By making some simple adjustments to your workstation you may be able to dramatically improve your positioning which will reduce stress and strain.  How much more productive would you be if you were positioned efficiently and not distracted by physical discomfort?

Read the full article for detailed information about how to adjust your office desk, chair, keyboard, mouse and monitor to maximize your comfort.

The Streamlined Office can provide onsite ergonomic assessments and recommendations.  Contact us today for a FREE consultation.  480-221-0588

Tags:  productivity  small busines  time management 

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Dealing with Negative Behavior

Posted By Jerry Houston, HPISolutions, Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Dealing with Negative Behavior

Ask any manager what is their least favorite aspect of the job, and they will probably tell you it is dealing with “people issues”.  However, being a manager means getting results through people, and having the ability to effectively deal with human emotions and behavior is perhaps the greatest skill a manager can possess.  As we bring our series on Management Development to a close, Senior Strategic Partner Charles Parnell reminds us of the effect human emotions have on behavior, and provides some strategies managers can use to minimize negative behavior and support a high performance workforce.   

It is important to recognize that emotions play an important role in everyday behavior in the workplace. There is no thought, attitude, idea or action which does not have a related emotional counterpart. We should express our emotions in a tactful and respectful manner – this is healthy. However, we have been conditioned early in life to suppress or disguise our emotions because we’re not sure how the expression of them will be perceived. As managers and employees interact with each other in the workplace, particular expectations are built up for each other with emotional tolerable limits. When these limits are exceeded, negative behavior is manifested. When this happens, there must be a candid discussion to determine the reason(s) for this behavior and a plan of action executed to address them. Constantly avoiding dealing with feelings can build up a stockpile of pent -up emotions. It can create a festering problem which, when it does not find expression, comes forth in ways that are harmful, hurtful and destructive to relationships. This repression and lack of adequate expression is not limited only to negative emotions such as anger, but also applies to positive emotions such as love. We must develop a way to widen the tolerable limits of emotional expression so that the problems associated with restraint and repression are diminished.

Negative behavior expressed in the workplace leads to poor performance. Effective management demands that we deal with emotions on a rational basis. Denying that emotions exist or not permitting a genuine expression of anger or joy is not healthy. By understanding human behavior, we will be able to identify emotionally-based problems which emerge in the everyday operations of an organization. During our lives, we have developed ways to express disappointment, anger and discontent – in ineffective ways. We have learned that exhibiting hostility can prove ineffective in solving problems with others. We must confront problems head-on, rather than avoiding them. When confronting them with people, we build trust and respect, which are the foundational components to a healthy relationship.    

Here are some additional strategies in dealing with negative behavior:

  • Actively listen – understand the problems or perspectives of others
  • Create and maintain an environment of free expression – without penalty
  • Set goals for developing relationships based on honesty and trust
  • Develop and execute strategies to enhance your ability to express your feelings constructively
  • Encourage complaints/disagreements – they are specialized forms of communication. They are usually concerned with working conditions, wages, disciplinary actions, job assignment or tenure rights. As such, they can present useful information about the effectiveness of your management style. They are opportunities to improve a situation. Use the occasion to strengthen the communication relationship for the future.
  • Set SMART goals to address negative performance behavior
  • Provide balanced feedback (positive and negative) in addressing negative behavior
  • Understand negative feedback about our own behavior is usually not very destructive – it’s usually instructive and constructive
  • Understand emotions can and should be dealt with directly. If they are not dealt with, the problems usually become worse.

Negative behavior in the workplace is common; it is driven principally by emotions. Our challenge is to create and sustain an environment where people feel comfortable sharing their emotions. This will lead to the vast majority of problems getting the appropriate resolution. Remember, we now have the New Age Worker. They want to be in on things – goal setting, problem solving and decision making. These characteristics have emotional underpinnings that must be recognized and effectively addressed. 

We hope you have enjoyed this Power Idea.  If you want to know more about Dealing with Negative Behavior, don't hesitate to contact us at and we will be happy to set a time to talk.
Have a Great Week!

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Don't Make These 5 Startup Mistakes

Posted By Karen Cummings, Radiant Marketing, Monday, November 28, 2016

An amazing idea ensures startup success, right? Wrong. No one loves to hear it, but three out of four startups will fail before they ever get to market. Managing and navigating a startup can be a minefield—especially if you go it alone or are starting off with no business experience. Many entrepreneurs have little prior experience in the business world and without that valuable experience, many startups endure the misfortune of failure. If you have a startup, or are thinking of launching a startup, set yourself up for success by learning from other’s mistakes.

Avoid these 5 startup mistakes at all costs!

Fearing failure

One of the biggest startup mistakes you can make is to be afraid of failing! Fear of failure can prevent you from even making that initial leap. Jumping into your fear is incredibly positive for your business’ success and how you pick yourself up and learn from mistakes is the ultimate key to great success. Many successful entrepreneurs credit their ultimate success to their ability to fail often, fail quickly and learn from those failures.

Quitting quickly

Giving up shouldn’t be an option when it comes to startup success. Be prepared to make it through those inevitable roadblocks and bounce back from lots of “no’s” in the beginning. Overcoming any negativity will help to fuel you in the right direction. Rather than quitting, when necessary consider shifts in thinking, planning or development that can keep you on path for growth!

Forgetting about marketing

A huge startup mistake is to think “I’ll figure out marketing later”. Marketing is crucial to startup success. Many startups spend all of their money on product development and overhead and leave zero dollars for marketing to generate customers. Eliminate the “if you build it they will come” mentality. Start planning and developing your marketing strategy if you want your startup to thrive.

Misunderstanding branding

Underestimating the value of a brand, or believing branding is simply the logo and look of your business, is an all too common startup mistake. Branding is one of the most powerful assets a startup can create. Your brand is a deeper, more articulated definition of your business and acts as a reminder to what you want your business to be and represent. Branding lives in the mind of consumers, and will ultimately be the driver in the relationship that is established with your audience, and why they care about what you do.

You go it alone

In most situations, it’s extremely daunting to tackle launching a startup on your own. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get stuck working on things alone. But having an extra set of ears and eyes on the ins and outs of your startup is invaluable. Getting help where you can from friends and professional colleagues will help to effectively launch your startup. Finding a mentor who has been where you are can do wonders in guiding you down the right path.

We can help you on your startup journey and help you develop a strong brand for your business. Set up a Discovery Session today!

Tags:  marketing  small business  startup 

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Posted By Jerry Houston, HPISolutions, Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Do you remember the movie that had the famous line, “what we have here is a failure to communicate?”  We have provided the answer below in this week’s Power Idea from Senior Strategic Partner, Laura Dillingham.  Laura is one of our foremost experts on communication and is going to bring us back to basics in how to communicate effectively.  Why is this important?… the basis of most misunderstandings, conflicts and relationship challenges both on and off the job happen as a result of poor communication.  This is a must read article!


Are We Communicating Yet?

Currently we have more communication vehicles than ever before, however, we seem to understand each other less. Take a moment and think about communication. Historically communication was done face-to-face, over the telephone or through letters, memorandums and faxes. Those were pretty much all of the methods available. Surprisingly enough, even then there were times when communication was difficult, misunderstood, late, not attempted or not even done.

So let’s start by looking at the changes in communication. Face-to-face communication is rare but it does happen. Letters are almost obsolete for the most part, as are memos. The fax machine is slowly being replaced with scans. Today, communication is accomplished through emails, texts, Instagram, Snap Chat, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. It uses abbreviations and emoji. It’s continuous, world-wide, instantaneously 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and yet we have less communication and more misunderstandings than ever. Even bullying has gone from in-person to cyberspace.

In this Power Idea we are going to briefly touch on four areas of communication: emotions within communication, principles of communication, active listening and non-verbal communications.

Let’s start by defining effective communication. I’m partial to this definition so it’s the one I’m going to be using. Effective communication means the sender sends a message in such a manner that the receiver receives the message, interprets the message and acts upon the message the way the sender intended. Effective communication holds the sender and the receiver responsible for the process and ultimately the end result.

Emotions within communications can be difficult using today’s methods of communication. So what do we do to try to include our emotions? We put emoji and symbols to try to convey the tone of the message to the receiver. What’s critical about emotions within communications is that there are certain messages that should never be sent using any other means except face-to-face and if that’s not an option use a phone. Examples of those types of communication are:

  • when the message has consequences such as a firing
  • when the message may be devastating to the receiver such as a death
  • when there are consequences such as safety and risk concerns.

If you’re not sure it’s simple…pick up the phone and call and talk to the person. One phone call can eliminate misunderstandings, hurt feelings, broken relationships and numerous emails, texts, wasted time and more.

The principles and responsibilities for communication have remained consistent in spite of the changes in communication methods. If we remember to use them we will significantly reduce the possibility of miscommunication. In communication the sender and the receiver each have five specific responsibilities.

The Sender’s responsibilities are:

  1. Start with an idea, concept or purpose
  2. Develop that idea, concept or purpose into an objective(s); what do you want the outcome to be
  3. Encode the message. Encoding involves determining what words to use, know something about the audience such as what information do they already have
  4. Put the message in a sequence that makes sense
  5. Choose the medium(s) to deliver the message; written, verbal, power point, graphics…

The Receiver’s responsibilities are:

  1. Receive the message
  2. Decode the message; understand the words and the content
  3. Assign meaning
  4. Provide feedback; either verbal, written or non-verbal
  5. If the receiver doesn’t understand the message they should go back to the Sender for clarification and/or explanation

If there’s a problem go back to the Sender’s Step 3. Encoding is where 90% of all communication errors occur.

Active listening involves the ability to put your own thoughts on the back burner and focus on the sender and their message. Active listening is critical during face-to-face communication and even on the phone. To let the sender know you are fully engaged you can smile, make eye contact, nod, say yes and don’t fidget or be distracted. Active listening involves the ability to summarize in a succinct way what you have just heard. It also involves asking questions and providing feedback when appropriate or when asked.

Non-verbal communications are important because they can either reinforce the message, cloud it or even cause misunderstandings. Examples of non-verbal communications in person are: facial expressions, hand gestures, eye contact, attitude, composure, clothing/dress, voice modulation/intonation, body movement, head movement, body language, ambulation, pregnant pauses, dancing around, yawning, snapping fingers, squinting eyes, cosmetics, cologne/perfume and even personal hygiene. Examples of non-verbal communication in written communication starts with not knowing enough about the receiver so sending too much information or not enough, vocabulary, tone, sarcasm, joking, condescending references, asking a question or making a statement which may make the other person feel bad or defensive or even missing a deadline or timeframe with a late response.

Communication is difficult and will probably continue to be difficult going forward. Especially in this age of technology where we send instant communication and expect instant responses. However, if you employ just a few of the techniques suggested you will see tangible results and improvement in not only your communication but in your relationships, personal and professional. However, in situations where miscommunication occurs, nothing is more effective than immediately picking up the phone and resolving the issue. Key to remember is when a relationship is important we will not allow miscommunication to damage or destroy it.  (answer to question – Cool Hand Luke!)

We hope you have enjoyed this Power Idea.  If you want to know more about Communications, don't hesitate to contact us at and we will be happy to set a time to talk.
Have a Great Week!

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PET PLANET Offers Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe During the Holidays

Posted By Kristen Cherry, Pet Planet, Monday, November 14, 2016

Keeping Our Pets Safe This Holiday Season

When planning your Holiday celebrations, here are two ideas to consider to keep your pets safe and healthy:

1.      Tinsel, ribbons, lights and shiny holiday items can cause severe stomach problems if swallowed by your pet.  Leave the lowest branches of your tree free of tempting things that may look like fun for your cat to play with or your dog to eat.

2.      Although brilliant for creating holiday spirit, Poinsettias, Holly, Mistletoe and Chocolate are hazards to our furry companions and can make them extremely sick. In your home, please keep those in safe, out-of-reach areas.

Holiday hustle-and-bustle can really stress your pets.  Be careful with decorations and food to help your pets live healthier, happier and longer lives!

Happy Holidays from PET PLANET . . . Your Pet’s Natural Grocer!

Tags:  arizona small business  career change  change  christmas  entrepreneur  family business  family-operated business  finding your passion  franchise  small business  Small Business Owners  starting a business  women owned small business  women-owned business 

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Transactional Analysis - Part Two

Posted By Jerry Houston, HPISolutions, Thursday, November 10, 2016

In our last Power Idea we talked about the concept of Transactional Analysis (TA) and the power this science has in helping us to understand and manage transactions, or interactions between each other.  If you missed reading that article, click here and read it before reading this week’s message.  In this second half of the topic of TA, Founder and CEO, Jerry Houston, discusses the idea of Life Positions, crossed transactions, strokes (or recognitions) and how to manage TA in our everyday life and especially at work.  Enjoy this week’s Power Idea!

Have you ever experienced a response from another person that seemed to come from nowhere?  Have you been functioning in a rational and reasonable way, only to elicit a response that was either very parental and negative, or gained a response that seemed as if the other person is whining or complaining beyond reason?  What do you do? How can you get the conversation refocused? 

There are many reasons for these unaligned reactions. Let’s start with a significant culprit:

Life Positions

Each of us develops a basic emotional position that is a result of the negative or positive feedback we have received in life which creates a basic opinion of self and others.  There are four possibilities:

I’m ok, you’re ok  - The first position.  People here are receiving all the positive feedback or strokes that they need.  This is a winner’s position. 

I’m not ok, you’re ok – Common among many people.  Early in life people in this position have received very negative strokes and is usually passed along, generationally.  “A child who grows up with criticism will criticize.”  This person would take an inferior stance to others.

I’m ok, you’re not ok – A person in this position doesn’t believe positive strokes are possible.  As a leader, this person usually surrounds themselves with “yes men.”  Looks down on others and is likely a bully. 

I’m not ok, you’re not ok – A person who got little to no strokes or recognition of any kind.  A person who is basically ignored.  This could be a person who is hopeless and doesn’t believe anything good is deserved or possible for them and is, therefore, negative toward self and others. 

A benefit of understanding Transactional Analysis in communications is to understand where others are coming from and how to react.  Crossed transactions are commonplace and can create significant communication issues; for example, if someone is in the negative parent state, it can push another person to the negative child state.  If you remain in an adult state (especially in business) another person cannot forever stay in negative child or negative parent.  Eventually, they will need to use the rational side of their being and then you can have a conversation that connects. 

Another important factor of changing perceptions and therefore life positions is by giving strokes.  Strokes can be positive, in terms of authentic compliments, for example, or constructive negative strokes, such as “we fell short of the goal, what have you learned that you will do differently next time?”  Remember that EVERYONE NEEDS STROKES. 

Finally, if you want to be the most successful at remaining primarily in the adult state (best option for business situations) you do so by being aware that you have slipped into parent or child, and stop and reposition.  Also, if you create an atmosphere of I’m ok and you’re ok, it will make it safe for others to join you in the correct state, therefore improving communications and relationships.

We hope you have enjoyed this power idea.  If you want to know more about Transactional Analysis, don’t hesitate to contact us at and we will be happy to set a time to talk.

Have a Great Week!

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Transactional Analysis - Part One

Posted By Jerry Houston, HPISolutions, Monday, November 7, 2016

In our continuing series on managing and leading in the 21st century, Founder and CEO, Jerry Houston, takes us into a very interesting topic, Transactional Analysis, or, in other words, the transactions that occur between people.  While this is not a new science, it is as valid and important today as when it was developed back in the 1970’s. We hope you find value in the concept of Transactional Analysis and find applications where it can be put to work in your organization today. 

People operate from three distinct perspectives, the parent, the child and the adult ego-states.   Eric Berne, the father of Transactional Analysis (TA) defines each of these states of mind as a “consistent pattern of feeling and experience related to a corresponding pattern of behavior.”  None of this has to do with your age, by the way!  All three of these states exist in all people at different levels.  Our minds have the ability to take in and “record” information and experiences.  This starts at birth and continues for the rest of our lives.  Understanding TA helps us to understand where we are coming from, and also where others are coming from when we “transact” with each other. 

Simply put, the three ego-states are:

The Parent Ego State

The old saying that a child that grows up with criticism will criticize is absolutely true.  If the “parent” is overprotective, judgmental, critical, supportive, then so might we be as we replay those recordings.  Think about that as it relates to being a manager.  Do you nurture, demand, compensate your employees?  

The Child Ego State

Think about how children behave…some good, some not so good.  Here are some words that might describe the Child in us.  Whining, crying, blaming (it’s not fair!), happy, joyful, innocent, playful, creative, inquisitive…you get the idea.  Now apply this to yourself or your employees.  Where do you fall and where do they fall when in the “child.”

The Adult Ego-State

When we are very young (about 10 months of age) we begin the ability to make choices about the input we are receiving.  This is because we gain the “power of locomotion.”  Information is gathered as we experience new things and how we feel about those inputs.  Your adult ego-state grinds out data to make decisions after computing the information from the Parent and the Child states.  Your Adult is very useful on the job.  It is rational, reasonable, practical, balanced and does not give in to emotion.  The Adult is a problem-solver.  If you want to change something about your life, it is your Adult that always has the correct thinking.  It takes issues that are created in the Parent or Child states and makes sense of them.  It is the objective and rational state that we are in…sometimes.

Understanding the three ego-states and where you spend your time as Parent, Child or Adult is critical in interpersonal relationships and personal improvement.  In our next article we are going to talk about CROSS TRANSACTION, or in other words, what happens when you are in one ego state and the person you are transacting with is in another state. 

We hope you have enjoyed this power idea.  If you want to know more about Transactional Analysis, don’t hesitate to contact us at and we will be happy to set a time to talk.

Have a Great Week!

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Passwords-Are You Set Up For Security or a Security Breach?

Posted By Amy Geils, The Streamlined Office LLC, Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Did you know that $16 billion was stolen from 12.7 million US consumers in 2015?  There are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself and your digital information.

  • Use different passwords for your most important accounts
  • Passwords should have at least 12-16 characters including a combination of at least 1 number, one uppercase letter, one lower case letter and one special symbol
  • Avoid using words that are familiar to you such as the names of your family members
  • Do not use any combinations of numbers which can otherwise identify you such as your birthday, zip code, phone number and certainly NEVER your social security number
  • NEVER click the button that says “Remember Password”. This stores the password in your web browser
  • Do not log in to financial or other important accounts unless you are on your own computer or connected to a private internet connection. Do not use public Wi-Fi hotspots or the like to access these types of accounts.
  • Change your password every 90 days
  • Protect your computer and other devices.  See my blog “How to Protect Your Digital Information”

For the full article which includes information and reviews of Password Management software, click here.  For a free consultation of all your office organizing needs call 480-221-0588.  

Tags:  business services  entrepreneurs  office organization  productivity  technology 

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Lets start talking about Business Ethics

Posted By Tracelyn Sutton, American Cancer Society, Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Lets Have That Conversation About B.E.



Business Ethics (B.E.) is a subject that is being discussed heavily this year. It’s interesting to know that a company’s ethic will determine its reputation. Good strong business ethics are essential for long-term success, increase profits and overall better lives.


In today’s digital world ethics is more important because news can spread faster. Think of strong B.E. as an umbrella that covers your customers, employees, vendors, competitors, neighbors, family, and friends. It is that important!


We want employees trained and understand Business Ethics. Workshops will teach the following: define and understand ethics, benefits of ethics, strategies to implement ethics at work, recognize social and unethical behaviors, learn how to make ethical decisions and how to lead with integrity.


Did you know that the company culture determines the ethics of an organization?


Benefits of Managing Ethics


Running your business ethically has many rewards. The circumstances of every business will identify the results of managing ethics. There are, however, ten common benefits that all businesses have when they manage their business ethics




Ethical companies comply with all legal requirements and are less likely to be fined or sued.


Consumers are more apt to support a business with a reputation as an ethical organization.·


Companies with ethical values improve their communities.·


Ethical rules save organizations from accidently violating the rights of employees or consumers.·


Employees’ personal moral standards will improve at an ethical business.·


A fair working environment facilitates teamwork and productivity.


Many successful financial business practices are reinforced by ethical business practices.·


Established ethical guidelines will lead a company in times of change and stress.·


Ethical companies retain employees and save money in turnover. ·


There is personal satisfaction in doing the right thing.


It is never too late to implement ethics in the workplace. Implementing ethics in the workplace is a complex but rewarding task. Every individual has a unique set of ethical standards. Allowing each person to follow his or her moral compass will result in varied results. Companies need to focus on implementing uniform ethical standards and rules throughout their organizations. Employees should never have to question whether or not they are doing the right thing.


Create an ethics committee in your workplace. Have an ethics executive. Make sure all staff and managers are trained. Consider your private policy, make sure it is up to date, and it includes surveillance, drug testing, searches, harassment and social media policy.


Common Dilemmas


There are many different ethical dilemmas in business that are specific to industries. There are, however, common difficulties that every organization will face.

  • Honest accounting practices
  • Responsibility for mistakes such as accidents, spills, and faulty product
  • Advertising that is honest and not misleading
  • Collusion with competitors
  • Labor issues
  • Bribes and corporate espionage

Law governs many of these dilemmas, but an ethical organization will make the right decision regardless of legal matters. Note, that because these issues are so common, it is important to create ethical standards and train employees to behave accordingly.


We are pleased to provide workshops for a minimum of 20 employees at just $20.00 per employee. This 2-hour workshop will provide all the answers and plans to begin a program in your workplace.

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Tags:  business  ethics  etiquette  leaders  learning  workshops 

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Productivity Tip: Scheduling Gmail to be Sent at a Later Date and Time

Posted By Amy Geils, The Streamlined Office LLC, Saturday, October 29, 2016

Are you a Gmail user who would like to be able to schedule emails to be sent at a later date and time? If so, this month's Productivity Tip on how to install and use Gmail Scheduler is for you! It's easy to set up and it's FREE with your existing Gmail account.  For easy to follow instructions, click here.

Tags:  be more productive  office organization  productivity  small business  technology 

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