Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, we all face the same challenge – waking up in the morning. For many of us, mornings can be a struggle, whether we rise at the break of dawn or in the afternoon due to night shifts. This common difficulty is often attributed to sleep inertia. If you’re one of those who find mornings serene, this article may not be your cup of tea. But for the rest of us, mornings are far from a breeze.

There are various strategies to make mornings more manageable, such as minimizing screen time, avoiding specific foods or drinks, and reducing exposure to unwanted light at night. Similarly, there are steps you can take in the morning to make waking up less daunting, like welcoming natural light as early as possible or changing your alarm tone to something soothing. However, these measures are often insufficient on their own. One of the most effective ways to ease into your mornings and set a positive tone for the day is by establishing a morning routine.

Having a morning routine means you wake up with a clear understanding of what lies ahead. This predictability makes it significantly easier to leave your cozy bed. It becomes a habit; no need to deliberate, and that alone simplifies the process of waking up. When executed correctly, your morning routine can boost your energy, enhance your productivity, and foster a positive outlook throughout the day. Who can resist those benefits, right?

As you contemplate crafting a morning routine, keep a few key considerations in mind. The duration of your routine is entirely up to you, and the activities you include should cater to your individual needs and preferences. Additionally, remember that the time it takes for your routine to become second nature will vary, but the essential part is persevering until it becomes a natural part of your day.

Here are some action items to consider. You can choose to incorporate all of them, a few, or none at all. The important thing is to establish a morning routine. And don’t forget to reassess your routine if, after a period of practice, you find the benefits aren’t outweighing the drawbacks:

  1. Wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  2. Allow yourself ample time to ease into the day, and savor the first 30-60 minutes at a leisurely pace.
  3. Try to wake up before anyone else, creating a tranquil environment for you, your space, and the day ahead.
  4. Resist the urge to check your phone, calendar, or to-do list. Save these tasks for when you’re feeling the positive and energetic effects of your morning routine.
  5. Consider meditation or soothing music.
  6. Incorporate some light stretching or engage in a full-blown workout – just something to get your body moving differently.
  7. Dedicate a moment to yourself with a cup of coffee, tea, or even an energy drink, while you read, enjoy nature, or practice mindfulness.
  8. Explore the invigorating effects of a cold shower.

We trust that you’ll find these suggestions valuable and that they contribute to more productive (or, at the very least, easier) mornings. However, morning routines are not the sole habits that can enhance your day. If you’re looking to make habit-building a routine in itself, consider these tips from the CDC as well. 

If you ask someone whether they’ve watched Ted Lasso or if they liked it, you’ll likely get different answers. But one thing that’s for sure is that the show emphasized the fact that you don’t have to be a subject matter expert to be a leader. Here are just eight of the many leadership lessons we can learn from Ted Lasso.

Find Others Who Complement Your Skills & Weaknesses

One of the key relationships in the show is that between Coach Lasso and Coach Beard. The two met during their college years when both played on their college (American) football team. Few leaders can “have it all” when it comes to the skills needed to be a good leader. This means finding others who can lead with you, that complement your weaknesses, is critical. In Ted Lasso, Coach Lasso is engaging and amiable with a solid ability to develop others. Meanwhile, Coach Beard is quiet, thoughtful, and fully invested in understanding every aspect of the sport (which Ted did not). Together, they make a coaching combo that checks all the boxes!

Lead With Kindness, Empathy & Compassion 

These three things can really bring professional success to an organization as well as personal success for each member of your team. And it’s important not to lose sight of these even when you’re under pressure or facing losses. In fact, that’s when they matter most! Kindness, empathy, and compassion will get you through the hard times.

Be Confident but also Trust Those Around You 

This one ties into the last lesson. Be confident in your skills (and your weaknesses), and be confident in the team you have around you. You picked them for a reason, so trust in them.

Be a Goldfish

In one episode, Ted asks a player “you know who the happiest animal in the world is? A goldfish. Why? It’s got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish.” This direct quote by Coach Lasso reminds us that we are not defined by our mistakes but rather by how we react to our mistakes. Learn from them, adjust, then forget them.

Great Ideas Come from Everyone

Ted sees value in everyone. He knows he doesn’t need to be an expert and that the best way to lead is to lead in conjunction with those around him. This includes (of course) Coach Beard as well as Ted’s “kit man” (equipment manager) Nathan, among many others. Not only does Ted do this as a soccer coach but he does it as the “coach” of himself when he realizes he needs help handling his own depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

Know Names & Use Them

Early in the pilot episode, Coach Lasso introduces himself to his limo driver with “My name’s Ted. What’s yours?” and then uses the limo drivers name (Ollie) twice during the short drive. Other examples include Coach Lasso using the first names of press members during interviews and also when interacting with fans in public. Knowing the names of others and addressing them by their names shows the utmost level of respect. This makes it a very effective way to build trust and improve working relationships.

Stick Together, Especially in the Tough Times

In season one, episode 10, Ted tells the team, “I promise you, there is something worse out there than being sad. And that is being alone and being said. Ain’t no one in this room alone.” If you’re facing tough times, you’re likely not the only one. But, if you are, it feels a lot better to have someone with you as you face them. Great leaders make sure nobody on their team ever feels alone.

Don’t Take Things Personally

During the show, Ted never pretends to be the subject matter expert when it comes to soccer. In fact, he owns up to not knowing much about soccer both publicly and often. However, it was for just that reason that he was judged negatively by the press, public, and fans frequently during the entire show. Despite that scrutiny, Ted kept going. Although he knew he was the topic of the criticism, he also knew he wasn’t the source. Instead of responding to negativity with more negativity Ted stayed true to himself, let it roll off his back, and kept going. Eventually, this is exactly what led him to the success nobody else saw coming.

Ted has a lot of teaching moments as a leader and a lot of quotes that help teach. But he’s also got some great quotes overall. Here’s a few to laugh along with because another big lesson he can teach us is that humor can do a lot for a leader.

Ted Lasso Quotes

  • “I feel like we fell out of the lucky tree and hit every branch on the way down, ended up in a pool of cash and Sour Patch Kids.”
  • “If that’s a joke, I love it. If not, can’t wait to unpack that with you later.”
  • “I always thought tea was going to taste like hot brown water. And do you know what? I was right.”
  • “As the man once said, the harder you work, the luckier you get.”
  • “It’s kind of like back in the ’80s when ‘bad’ meant ‘good.'”
  • “I believe in Communism. Rom-communism, that is. If Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan can go through some heartfelt struggles and still end up happy, then so can we.”
  • “Little tip for y’all. Fries are called chips. Chips are called crisps. And bangers aren’t great songs, but they do make you feel like dancing because they’re so darn tasty.”

Does your company have a complex staffing problem that requires a flexible solution? FlexTrades has solved manufacturing headaches for hundreds of companies big and small in all 50 states. We have a skilled workforce that is professional and ready to come to you. Consider just a few ways that your company can use our flexibility to solve your skilled labor problems.

Five ways FlexTrades Clients See “Flex” in FlexTrades:

Large Projects to Small Projects – One client in the consumer goods industry needed FlexTrades’ Technicians to run their entire production process. We were at the client’s site using their machines, but 100% of the work was done by FlexTrades employees. We’ve also had clients who purchased a new machine and just needed one expert to come in to set it up and train their staff on how to run it.

Project Duration – We solved short-term production backlogs in eight weeks when a client needed a quick influx of productivity. FlexTrades’ Technicians kept a client’s facility running for multiple years in a row. We can fill any shift you are running, whether that’s a day shift and night shift, or a first shift, second shift and third shift. Our only requirement is that it’s at least 50 hours per week because our Technicians really like to work! We’re true partners, and our timelines can flex as needed to get the job done right.

Recurring Need vs One-Time Need – We can help you with recurring seasonal work or work based on cyclical market trends and order cycle fluctuations. Or we can help with your one-time backlog to get you caught up. Our solution is flexible enough to fit your unique manufacturing requirements.

Variety of Skilled Technicians – Our technicians have been deployed to fill just about every role found in manufacturing. Our clients most commonly require skilled Machinists, Welders, Maintenance Techs and Production Techs. Many clients also need Assemblers, Diesel Techs, Electrical Techs, Engineers, Fabricators, Machine Operators, Material Handlers, Programmers and more!

Quick Spool Up Time & Less HR Work for You – Generally, it takes a few weeks for a FlexTrades Technician to get up to speed. Many of our clients are shocked by their speed and proficiency after having worked with more typical staffing options and other workforce providers. FlexTrades provides an extensive support system to its Technicians to help limit extra work for your HR, management, and administrative staff. You just need to point our Technicians to their workspace and watch them get you back on track.

Why FlexTrades?

We chose the name “FlexTrades” because we recognize the importance of being flexible. Each of our clients has a unique staffing problem that requires a custom solution. We help them take advantage of our flexibility with our skilled and professional workforce. Click here to read more about our innovative solutions. If you’re ready to tackle your workforce problems, reach out to our Business Development Department today for a FREE, no strings attached consultation! 

When faced with a backlog or high demand, manufacturers across the United States utilize FlexTrades’ skilled technicians for any and all of their production operations, but it doesn’t stop there. FlexTrades also employs highly-skilled engineers who help our customers meet a wide variety of goals. In fact, project-based engineering is not a trend. It’s becoming increasingly more common in manufacturing.

Here’s Why You Should Consider FlexTrades’ Engineers: 

  • Utilizing project-based engineers allows manufacturers to stay agile.
  • Many companies are running leaner than they were due to recent events, the current market and economy. Additionally, top talent (in this case – engineers) in this candidate-driven market are looking for more meaning in their work and also more flexibility.
  • By enlisting the help of project-based engineers, and working with FlexTrades to do so, the skills and experience of the engineer can be tailored to fit a manufacturer’s needs right now rather than hiring a full-time employee with a more generalized set of skills.
  • Project-based engineers allow full-time engineers to stay focused on long-term goals and objectives.
  • Utilizing project-based engineers is a great option when trying to align with the up-and-down lifecycle of engineering in a manufacturing facility.
  • Project-based engineers provide a fresh perspective by coming in with a different background than full-time engineers.

Are you a manufacturer who needs to update your work instructions, blueprints, and SOPs?

Maybe you’re experiencing a downturn in the quality of your products, and you need someone to analyze the cause, determine a solution, then implement?

Perhaps you need to reverse engineer older products so you can create updated prints?

Or maybe you’re looking to design and produce new products and needing someone to determine the feasibility of production.

Contact FlexTrades – we can help!

And, if you’re not a manufacturer but you’re an engineer who would like to travel, learn new things, and bring your expertise to manufacturers who really need it, contact a FlexTrades recruiter today to learn more.  

A reader of our How It’s Made articles asked if we could share our knowledge about recycling. As a result, we adapted our How It’s Made article this month to an article titled “How It’s Done.”

In recognition of National Recycling Day on November 15, this edition will focus on what happens in a recycling facility. Before (or after) you read on, check out an earlier article we posted to help you understand just What Can Be Recycled.

As you read through the process below, keep in mind that states and cities vary in their abilities to recycle. However, the general process outlined here can be followed for mixed material recycling centers.

How is Recycling Done (1)

Step 1: Collection

Recyclables are collected from curbside or drop-off locations then delivered to the recycling/recovery facility.

Step 2: Facility Arrival

The trucks unload recyclables into a yard or storage area.

Heavy equipment pushes the material onto a conveyor belt or into a hopper which then feeds a conveyor belt.

Step 3: Presort

In this area, workers manually remove materials that are not recyclable or would damage the facility equipment.

Examples include: dirty paper/cardboard, scrap metal, plastic bags, bulky & oversized plastics, e-waste, hoses, toys etc.

Step 4: Screening

Throughout the entire process, large rollers screen out materials.  These rollers are essentially augers with blades. The build, size, and spacing of the blades pushes forward desired recyclable materials and undesired materials downward.

Often, the first material screened is large cardboard. These screens can also filter out materials considered too small for recycling.

How is Recycling Done

Step 5: Sorting

Workers manually sort non-recyclable products from mixed materials. Workers will also pull out any materials that are difficult for equipment operations.

As a result, we have sorted various products into specific materials. These products are now moving on a series of conveyors to specific places within the facility. Those products include:

  1. Newsprint
  2. Mixed Paper
  3. Cardboard
  4. Plastic

So, what else is left? Glass and metals.

How is Recycling Done (2)

Step 7: Metal Magnification

Giant magnets pull tin cans, iron containers, or steel containers from the conveyor belt. After this, another conveyor belt takes these containers to a specific area of the plant. Plastic, aluminum, and glass containers continue down the line.

Step 8: Screening

In this step, screens break the glass and separate it from plastic. A conveyor takes the broken glass to the glass processing department. This department breaks the glass down even further for additional processing or shipment out.

Step 9: Eddy Current Separator

This sorts aluminum from the mixed product through the use of an electric current. In addition, a conveyor takes the aluminum product to another area of the plant for processing.

Step 10: Sorting

More manual sorting by operators within the facility occurs here to gather any other products which are not recyclable.

At this point, plastic containers and small pieces of paper or film are all we have left.

Step 11: Optical Sorting

In this area, machines determine different types of unsorted materials. The machines identify different materials based on how light reflects from the material’s surface. This step determines the material type, color, and shape. Air pulls recognized material downward (or upward) onto another conveyor belt.

This step uses optical sorting machinery. One sorter will target paper. Another sorter will target plastic film. Upon completion of optical sorting, we should be left with just plastic containers. Therefore, each type of product or material has been sent to its own storage area. For instance, plastic bottles and containers are in one area. Similarly, cardboard is in another area.

So, what happens next?

Step 12: Baling

Baling machines operate with very high levels of pressure to compact materials into bales. Yes, like hay bales but made of different materials and square in shape. Wire wrapped around ensures the bales stay together.

Fun fact: These bales can weigh as much as 1 ton!

Baled product is ready for pickup and delivery to recyclers specialized in the materials. For an understanding of those processes, check out the links below:

Today, September 22nd, is American Businesswomen’s Day! This day was made to honor the women in our workforce and the impact that they have created. Observing this day allows women of many different occupations, cultures, and networks to celebrate one another.  

Here are some ways that you can celebrate the women in our workforce:  

  • Find women owned companies to visit and give them your business!  
  • Network with women in your industry and seek a woman outside of your industry to grow your female business connections.  
  • Listen to a Podcast produced by a woman.  
  • Donate to a local college that has a woman in business club.  
  • Find a women owned nonprofit to donate/volunteer at. Dress For Success is a great organization to investigate.   
  • Encourage your company to partner with a woman in business development group.  
  • Watch this Ted Talk by Diana Nyad, to listen to her story and become reinspired to “Never Give Up”.  

We are proud of the women in our workforce and proud that many women are prominent leaders in their industries. It is no longer uncommon for women to be commanders in the business world and that alone is something worth celebrating!  

April is a lot of things to a lot of people: 

  • It’s my daughter’s birth month, something she’ll bring up any day throughout the month to make sure we’re ready for it when the big day comes. 
  • It’s Autism Acceptance Month, an opportunity to share stories and increase understanding and acceptance of children and adults with autism.  
  • It’s the Month of the Military Child, “a child who early on learns that to survive means to adapt, that the door that closes one chapter of their life opens up to a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences” (www.littletroopers.net). Little-Troopers-Donate-Life-Month
  • It conjures up childhood phrases like ‘April showers bring May flowers’ and ‘in like a lion, out like a lamb’. 

No matter what way you look at it, April brings hope and encouragement to each of us that the sun will eventually shine on our gloomy days, that good things are around the corner, (and that I’ve got a birthday party to plan so I better get on that). It’s also fitting that April is National Donate Life Month. 

My connection to organ donation started back in 1997, when I FINALLY got my drivers licenses and checked yes when asked if I was an organ donor. I don’t remember there being a lot of thought put into my yes or having a great understanding of what that meant, but it felt like the right thing to do, so I did it. 

My connection to organ donation grew deeper when my sister started dating my eventual brother-in-law back in the early 2000’s. Ben had received a bi-lateral lung transplant in his early teens. He was a character. A storyteller. A firecracker in a tiny package. Ben was someone who understood that each day was a gift, and he wasn’t going to waste the extra days he had been given. 

Skip ahead a decade and a half or so, and my father-in-law was placed on the donor list when he was in desperate need of a healthy liver and kidneys. I vividly remember the day we got the call that a donor had been found.  

  • It was a day of hope: for more years with his grandchildren, seeing them graduate from high school, seeing them walk down the aisle, and maybe even bouncing their children up and down on his knee someday (hip replacements and all).  
  • It was a day of thankfulness: that we were being given a second chance.  
  • And it was a day of incredible pain and sorrow: as we thought about the donor, and what their family must be going through. The worst day of their lives. Their final good-byes. Their dreams, dashed in an instant. 

Because of an infection, my father-in-law did not receive the gift of life that day, but the next person on the donor list did and they got to experience those same hopes and thanks along with those same pains and sorrows.  

A few things worth knowing from my favorite organ donation website, the Iowa Donor Network (https://www.iowadonornetwork.org/understanding-donation/current-statistics): 

  • Every 9 minutes a new person is added to the national organ transplant waiting list. 
  • An average of 17 people die each day while waiting. 
  • On average, 112 transplants take place every day in the U.S. 
  • In 2021, the lives of nearly 41,000 Americans were saved by organ donation. 
  • One donor can save up to 8 lives through organ donation and save and heal 50-300 lives through tissue donation. 

LifeSource, a nonprofit dedicated to saving lives through organ, eye, and tissue donation in the Upper Midwest, recently asked followers on their Facebook page to describe organ donation in one word. The responses to this simple question sum it up for me: 

  • Selfless
  • Miraculous
  • Comforting
  • Love
  • Legacy
  • Hope
  • A wish [come true]
  • Life (quite literally)
  • Hero
  • Everything

If you’d like to be someone’s hero, you can sign up to be an organ, tissue, and eye donor by going to https://www.donatelife.net/register/. Donate Life America Logo

You can be somebody’s love, their hope, their wish come true, their life, their hero, their everything! 

How is recycling done?

A reader of our How It’s Made articles asked if we could share our knowledge about recycling. As a result, we adapted our How It’s Made article this month to an article titled “How It’s Done”. In recognition of National Recycling Day on November 15, this edition will focus on what happens in a recycling facility.  Before (or after) you read on, check out an earlier article we posted to help you understand just What Can Be Recycled.

As you read through the process below, keep in mind that states and cities vary in their abilities to recycle. However, the general process outlined here can be followed for mixed material recycling centers.

Step 1: Collection

  • Recyclables are collected from curbside or drop-off locations then delivered to the recycling/recovery facility.

Step 2: Facility Arrival

  • The trucks unload recyclables into a yard or storage area. [av_image src=’https://www.pmgservices.com/content/uploads/2020/11/Recycling-Truck-180×180.jpg’ attachment=’8605′ attachment_size=’square’ align=’right’ animation=’no-animation’ link=” target=” styling=” caption=” font_size=” appearance=” custom_class=”][/av_image]

Heavy equipment pushes the material onto a conveyor belt or into a hopper which then feeds a conveyor belt.

Step 3: Presort

  • In this area, workers manually remove materials that are not recyclable or would damage the facility equipment.
    • Examples include: dirty paper/cardboard, scrap metal, plastic bags, bulky & oversized plastics, e-waste, hoses, toys etc.

Step 4: Screening

  • Throughout the entire process, large rollers screen out materials.  These rollers are essentially augers with blades. The build, size, and spacing of the blades pushes forward desired recyclable materials and undesired materials downward.
    • Often, the first material screened is large cardboard. These screens can also filter out materials considered too small for recycling.

Step 5: Sorting

  • Workers manually sort non-recyclable products from mixed materials. Workers will also pull out any materials that are difficult for equipment operations.

[av_image src=’https://www.pmgservices.com/content/uploads/2020/11/Recycling-Sorting-180×180.jpg’ attachment=’8604′ attachment_size=’square’ align=’right’ animation=’no-animation’ link=” target=” styling=” caption=” font_size=” appearance=” custom_class=”][/av_image]

As a result, we have sorted various products into specific materials. These products are now moving on a series of conveyors to specific places within the facility. Those products include:

  1. Newsprint
  2. Mixed Paper
  3. Cardboard
  4. Plastic

So, what else is left? Glass and Metals.

Step 7: Metal Magnification

  • Giant magnets pull tin cans, iron containers, or steel containers from the conveyor belt. After this, another conveyor belt takes these containers to a specific area of the plant. Plastic, aluminum, and glass containers continue down the line.

Step 8: Screening

  • In this step, screens break the glass and separate it from plastic. A conveyor takes the broken glass to the glass processing department. This department breaks the glass down even further for additional processing or shipment out.

Step 9: Eddy Current Separator

  • This sorts aluminum from the mixed product through the use of an electric current. In addition, a conveyor takes the aluminum product to another area of the plant for processing.

Step 10: Sorting

  • More manual sorting by operators within the facility occurs here to gather any other products which are not recyclable.

At this point, plastic containers and small pieces of paper or film are all we have left.

[av_image src=’https://www.pmgservices.com/content/uploads/2020/11/Recycling-Med-Bale-180×180.jpg’ attachment=’8603′ attachment_size=’square’ align=’right’ animation=’no-animation’ link=” target=” styling=” caption=” font_size=” appearance=” custom_class=”][/av_image]

Step 11: Optical Sorting

  • In this area, machines determine different types of unsorted materials. The machines identify different materials based on how light reflects from the material’s surface. This step determines the material type, color, and shape. Air pulls recognized material downward (or upward) onto another conveyor belt.
    • This step uses optical sorting machinery. One sorter will target paper. Another sorter will target plastic film. Upon completion of optical sorting, we should be left with just plastic containers. Therefore, each type of product or material has been sent to its own storage area. For instance, plastic bottles and containers are in one area. Similarly, cardboard is in another area.

So, what happens next?

Step 12: Baling

  • Baling machines operate with very high levels of pressure to compact materials into bales. Yes, like hay bales but made of different materials and square in shape. Wire wrapped around ensures the bales stay together.
    1. Fun fact: these bales can weigh as much as 1 ton!

[av_image src=’https://www.pmgservices.com/content/uploads/2020/11/Recycling-Bale-180×180.jpg’ attachment=’8601′ attachment_size=’square’ align=’right’ animation=’no-animation’ link=” target=” styling=” caption=” font_size=” appearance=” custom_class=”][/av_image]

Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach

I’m sure you’re well aware of the tiny but iconic lollipops called Dum Dums. You might even have a favorite flavor, including the curious  “Mystery Flavor”. What exactly is a mystery flavor, though? I’ll answer that question in this edition of “How It’s Made”.

How is Candy Made?

First and foremost, let’s talk about the general process for making candy. The base of candy is sugar and water. The type of candy determines other required ingredients such as brown sugar, corn syrup, fats, or acids, and a variety of flavorings.

After mixing comes heating at temperatures as high as 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In general, hard candies are heated at higher temperatures and soft candies are heated at lower temperatures. The heated mixture then moves through molding, cooling, wrapping, and packaging machinery. This process and the equipment used to perform these tasks is similar to the process and equipment used in the production of hygiene products. Check out PMG’s How It’s Made post on hand sanitizers to learn more about the equipment.

It’s simple, right? Mix, heat, form, cool, and package a combination of sugar, water, ingredients and flavorings. But there isn’t a flavoring called ‘Mystery’. So, what is the mysterious process behind mystery-flavored candies?

Where does the “Mystery Flavor” come from?

The mystery flavor in candy is the combination of two separate flavors. To create efficiencies in production and limit downtime, candy makers made the decision to combine flavors. When a batch of a specific flavor (let’s say strawberry) is complete, rather than shutting down the equipment for a thorough cleaning and losing valuable production time, candy manufacturers simply start the next flavor batch (let’s say vanilla). What we get in the end is a small number of candies that contain the flavor of the first batch (strawberry) and the flavor of the second batch (vanilla), producing a strawberry vanilla candy.

This process produces so few strawberry vanilla candies (and the company cannot guarantee the combination of the two flavors again), that creating specific packaging for the combined flavor increases costs and decreases benefits. These mixed batch flavors become the new “Mystery Flavor” to keep costs low and production high.

This process creates endless possibilities for flavor combinations. Well, maybe not endless. Let’s use Dum Dum Suckers as an example. There are 16 standard flavors of these suckers. This makes 256 different combinations possible to form one ‘Mystery Flavor’. With that number of combinations, the next time I try the Mystery Flavor Dum Dum, I’m not sure I’ll be able to determine what two flavors came together but it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept!

Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach