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Stress Management

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 27, 2020

The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is often referred as the “most wonderful time of the year.”  And we all certainly enjoy the time spent with family and friends.  But, if we are honest, it can be a very stressful time of year.  The shopping, cleaning, cooking, and hosting can take a toll on us.  And then we return to work.  How can we deal with the stresses in both our personal and work lives? 

We have a lot more control over the stress in our life than we think.  Stress management is about taking charge of our lifestyle, emotions, thoughts, and how we deal with problems.  A recent article in “HelpGuide” explained the importance of managing the stresses in our lives.  Living with stress affects both our physical and emotional health.  The article listed eight tips to deal with stress.  The first tip states we must identify the sources of stress in our life.  To do this we must look closely at our habits, excuses and attitude.  Do you blame your stress on other people?  Do you explain your stress as temporary?  Do you define stress as a part of your personality?

Stress is an automatic response from our nervous system, but some stressors are predictable.  For instance, your commute to work or a meeting with the boss can be stressful.  When these stressors occur, you can either change the situation or change your reaction.  Tip 2 - the 4 A’s of stress management – Avoid, Alter, Adapt and Accept can be used at these times.  Tip 3 recommends you get moving.  Even though you may not feel like getting up and exercising, physical activity is a huge stress reliever.  Take a walk around the block, put on some music and dance around.  Tip 4 encourages us to connect to others.  It is calming to spend quality time with another person who makes you feel understood and safe.  They don’t have to be able to fix your stress.  They just need to be good listeners. If you build a network of close friends, you can improve your resilience to the stresses we face in life.

Make time for fun and relaxation.  That is what Tip 5 suggests we do.  Nurturing yourself is not a luxury.  It is a necessity.  Set aside leisure time.  Do something you enjoy every day.  Keep your sense of humor.  Take up a relaxation technique such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing.  Managing your time better is Tip 6.  Don’t overcommit yourself.  Prioritize your tasks by making a list of things you have to do and tackle them in order of importance.  Break your projects into small steps and learn to delegate.  Let go of the need to oversee or control every step in the process.  You’ll be letting go of unnecessary stress as well.

Tip 7 recommends you maintain balance with a healthy lifestyle.  Healthy lifestyle choices include exercise, eating a healthy diet, reducing caffeine and sugar, avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs and getting plenty of sleep.  Tip 8 suggests we learn to relieve stress in the moment.  Quick stress relief techniques include taking a deep breath and using your senses – sight, hearing, taste, and touch – or through some type of soothing movement.  Look at a favorite photo, smell a specific scent, chew some gum.  The key to quick stress relief is to experiment and discover the sensory experiences that work best for you. 

Learning to manage your stress will improve your resiliency, allow you to better tolerate distress, and enhance your well-being.  What stress management techniques do you use?  Please share your techniques in the comment box below.




Marsha Witherspoon, CDFA serves as SDA National Treasurer for the 2019-2020 term.

She is a Member-at-Large from Columbus, Ohio.


Tags:  SDA; SDA National; Stress Management 

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Amendments, Motions and Resolutions, Oh My!

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, December 11, 2019

As chair of the SDA National Bylaws Committee, it’s my job to help national and all chapters assure that their bylaws and standing rules are current and in compliance.

But what are bylaws anyway? They are the document that governs the national organization (or chapters), basically a contract between the organization and its officers so that the business of the organization is conducted consistently. They describe various membership categories, committees, types of meetings and how they are held, and the people who have authority to make decisions, among other things. As a chapter, your state requires bylaws in order for you to be organized in that state. (And SDA National requires that you have bylaws/standing rules to remain in good standing as a chapter.)

In general, bylaws shouldn’t change considerably, unless there are changes within the organization that would require changes to the bylaws.

Standing rules establish specifics for the organization, such as uses of finances and responsibilities of committees.

Bottom line, bylaws are designed to be overarching and procedural, while standing rules are specific and administrative.

Sounds complicated, I know… That’s why SDA’s Bylaws committee exists – to help members and chapters understand their bylaws and standing rules, and to assist when changes are contemplated.

We’re a small committee (shout out to Gretchen Renz, CDFA, my right-hand committee member and our ExCom Liaison, Karen Roman, FSDA), and we don’t get much time in the spotlight, which is just how we like it. Unless there are amendments to the national bylaws or standing rules that create a lot of discussion during the annual business meeting. Remember the name change amendment?

But we’re here when needed – by ExCom and chapters – when a question arises regarding conformance with bylaws, when a chapter wants to make a change, or has a question. Just the other day I received an email about whether or not their chapter had a quorum. The answer was yes, by the way.

So remember your national Bylaws Committee when you have a question – we love to hear from you!



Betsy Nickless, FSDA, currently serves the SDA National Bylaws Committee Chair.

Contact Betsy 



Tags:  Bylaws Committee  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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Cell Phones at the Office

Posted By Administration, Monday, December 2, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, December 3, 2019

A few months ago I read a post on professional forum that has stayed with me due to the fact that I was absolutely shocked by the content. Actually, first I laughed because for a moment I thought the whole thing was a joke.

Here’s the story: The owner of a small firm (seven people) wrote that he was very concerned that his employees were wasting time and making more mistakes on drawings because of their cell phones. He believed the phones were too much of a distraction. His proposed solution was to take the phones away from everyone and put them in a cubby near his desk. The employees could have their phones back for their lunch break and when they left for the day.

Take. Their. Phones. Away.

Like kids in daycare checking their backpacks? In a cubby?

He also mentioned that he got the idea from a friend of his (another firm owner) who tried that approach and two employees quit on the spot. Really? I was surprised it was only two.

The response on the forum was fast and brutal. From “you have GOT to be kidding” to “I would be the first one out the door” to “what decade are you living in?”, there was not a single response supporting his plan. Several people suggested he might want to give some serious thought to his management style.

When cell phones first became popular, our firm’s unwritten policy was that you had to silence the ring so you wouldn’t disturb your co-workers. That was really just the reasoning of one principal and didn’t last long.  Today, our cell phones ring more than the landline does, and I can usually figure out who’s phone is ringing because I recognize the ring tone!

My cell phone is a tool at work, just like my computer. I access our bank accounts online every morning, and for certain functions, the bank sends me a code via text. It’s common for someone in one of the conference rooms to text me to step into a meeting. My co-worker sends me a text if she’s running late because of weather. I check email at home from my cell phone, night and day.

I’m sure a lot of firms have policies that others would find unusual or overly strict, but I just can’t imagine working where you were denied access to your cell! Unless you work for that giant company that ships everything in boxes with smiles on them… check out a few other weird company rules here.

How is your company handling cell phones in the office? Tell us in the comments below.



Karen Roman, FSDA, is the Business Manager for Intergroup, Inc. in Littleton, CO.

She is the current SDA National President-Elect for the 2019-2020 term.

Tags:  Cell Phone Policy  Cell Phones  SDA 

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SDA National President's Message - October 2019

Posted By Stephanie Kirschner, FSDA, Monday, October 21, 2019
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2019

The A/E/C community is full of passionate, smart, and influential principals, C-level, and other business industry experts. They help build communities, employ thousands of people across the country, and create living legacies that span decades. We honor their contributions to the industry and our communities.

Still yet, we all face similar challenges, regardless of the size of our firm(s), and for our firm(s) to be sustainable, our businesses need to be profitable, influential, and impactful. Over the next year, Brooke will be exploring some of these challenges and opportunities with a few Principals that represent our member’s firms.  

She is sharing the interview with the above video blog, and if you would like to read the full interview, you can read it here.

Tags:  SDA  SDA National President Message 

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Word Nerd: Price versus Cost

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 23, 2019
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2019

I manage the Seattle Chapter’s events on its website and if one has to pay to attend one of our events, I also have to set up the mechanism to allow people to pay for the event. And that brings me to this: Do I set the attribute as “Your Price” or as “Your Cost” – that is, which word will be displayed when one goes to pay for one of our chapter events: Price or Cost?

I had been setting up the payment page using Your Cost.

Then Seattle member Kurt Wong, CDFA, told me the correct way is to display Your Price instead.

I’m like, “Okay, but does it really matter?”

And you know what? It does matter.

If you’re the person registering for a Seattle chapter event, for example (insert shameless plug here ;o>) this event that’s coming up: Are you more likely to say to yourself something like, “What’s my price to attend this event?” Or, do you say something like, “How much does this cost to attend?”

I tend to lean toward the latter (whether that’s right or wrong).

As the person who is creating the payment page on our chapter website, I also tend to think, “I need to tell them how much this is going to cost them to attend.” So I had been displaying Your Cost on the payment page. My perspective was this: I’m telling the person who is paying that the chapter’s cost is X, without looking at it from the viewpoint of the person who is paying, which would be their price.

Kurt’s way prompted me to learn a little bit more, so I clicked the Difference Between link he sent, which basically says that the two terms shouldn’t be confused with each other, and that the two terms are often switched in normal conversation.

Kurt was right; we really should be using Your Price on our website’s payment pages. (And to add even more value – because that’s what SDA members do, you know – Kurt suggested I remove “Your” from the payment page to tidy up the page to make things cleaner and better aligned.)

Leave it to another SDA colleague to help set things straight . . . thanks, Kurt!




Judy Beebe, FSDA is our resident 'Word Nerd'  and

serves as the 2019-2020 SDA Seattle Chapter Vice President.


Tags:  SDA  Society for Design Administration  Word Nerd 

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