Managing Your Mind
3975 Waldenwood • Ann Arbor, MI 48105 • tel/fax (734)761-6498 •
Geri Markel
Managing Your Mind Newsletter
April 2007

Welcome to the April, 2007 edition of the Managing Your Mind Newsletter. The goal of this communication is to help you manage your mind and enhance your work, life, and/or school performance.

Around the middle of each month, you will receive this brief, but practical, newsletter providing announcements, tips, stories, and resources. The format may change based on your feedback and input. Feel free to contact me with your questions, concerns, and suggestions. Previous issues are archived at, under "Newsletter Archive". Sample checklists and diagrams are archived there under "The Geri Checklists."

You'll find the following sections in this issue:



"It Worked For Me"

Eric's Story: "As a second year medical student, I fell behind in my studies. I felt overwhelmed and had many sleepless nights. I failed the State Board Exam by four points. Now in the midst of medicine and surgery rotations, I had to study to retake this important exam--and complete a complicated, twenty page case study on a seriously ill patient. Returning home from long, exhausting days, I would face the blank computer screen for hours, unable to organize my thoughts or get started. The less I accomplished, the more anxious I became. I felt trapped in the dual personality of both guilty child and critical parent! Geri suggested the following strategy to break the cycle and help reduce the ‘jazz' in the system: we did a very simple mind map, or diagram, identifying the basic components of the case study and treatment plan. Just having this simple sketch cleared my mind and enabled me to begin identifying critical facts and related references. I was then able to prioritize and label each section in order to schedule writing time. I felt less overwhelmed when I could focus on writing one section at a time. The paper was finished more rapidly than I expected, leaving me with the time I needed to survive my rotations and prepare for my exam."

Here is a simplified version of the mind map that Eric used. To print your own copy, go to "The Geri Checklists" on our website.

Sample Mind Map

Diagrams such as the one that Eric used are handy for planning events as well as reports; for example, if you are throwing a party or organizing a conference, you can sketch out the various responsibilities. Tasks and activities will be easier to organize and to delegate. If you've been successful (or unsuccessful) using "mind maps", share your experience and write to

Based on a suggestion from a reader, there is now a link to "The Grid" that was featured in the March 2007, Managing Your Mind Newsletter. If you want a copy of the sample grid provided below, click here.

Public Policy Course Update will Talk to financial planner
Review insurance policies-health, homeowners, auto Job resume Independent Study Course
Schedule medical and dental appointments Find lawyer, file papers, research options Go to advising office about graduation requirements

If you've used a tip from a Managing Your Mind book or seminar or you've come up with one of your own, please share with me by calling (734) 761-6498 or emailing


Goofs and Glitches

Phil is an accomplished engineer with a high prestige job. He lives a precise life. For example, he hangs his clothes on the same type of hangers in the same direction, and gets pleasure from seeing his tools lined up in the tool chest.

Phil's garden, however, is a mess. In March, a late frost killed the bulbs that peeped out as early signs of spring. In April, deer munched on the next crop of flowers. On a May weekend, Phil and his wife again plant a multitude of flowers around the yard. They put chemicals around the plants to protect them from the deer and carefully water and divide the plants to ensure their survival. At the crack of Monday's dawn, Phil jumps out of bed realizing that he neglected to spray the plants with Miracle-Gro®. Determined to do everything possible to enhance the garden--and please his wife--he decides to fertilize prior to leaving for work. Grabbing the bottle, Phil methodically squirts the formula around and between each plant. He leaves for work knowing that he's gone the "extra mile" to reach his goal. As the cars whiz by on the expressway, he sips his coffee, feels satisfied, and visualizes a summer garden of color and scent. The radio talk host takes a break and a jingle blares about the effectiveness of Weed Be Gone® in killing those pesky weeds. "Watch for the green and yellow label," advises the announcer. Phil gulps. "Which bottle did I use? I couldn't have!" He returns that evening to find that the Weed Be Gone® is true to its advertising. It has killed every plant.

Rushed and tired, Phil had failed to distinguish between containers with similar colored labels and bottles on his neatly organized shelf. Perhaps it would be more effective to organize gardening chemicals on a shelf by function rather than color, size or shape.

Let's laugh together about our experiences. If you have one to share, send it to


Strategies for Success:

Whether it's house or garden, it's time for spring cleaning. Once the dastardly deeds are done, the important thing is to maintain what you've accomplished. If you have a tendency to let things go after your initial effort, you might consider following Tip #51 from my booklet, Defeating the Demons of Distraction: 111 Ways To Increase Work/Life Performance and Decrease Stress. Schedule clean-up time on your calendar even if only for 10 or 15 minutes. File papers, re-stow supplies, and use storage aids such as boxes to clear and organize your work spaces at least once a week. Over the long term, you could spend 15 minutes each month on a rotating basis, straightening up or reorganizing items around your home such as medication or cleaning supplies. Like Phil, above, you can extend this process to your attic, basement, garage, and yard, placing dangerous chemicals or tools on a separate shelf that is colored red.


Student Corner:

Many students are worried right now about the writing sections of the SAT, ACT or AP English exams. On most of these type of tests, students are presented with what they think is an "irrelevant" topic and are required to plan, organize, and write a cogent essay in thirty minutes. Too many students jump in and begin to write, neglecting adequate forethought and planning. The test results may not show their true potential. Here is an exercise to help focus on the brainstorming and organizing components. Select a topic from a practice SAT or ACT book. For the first few practice sessions, set a timer for ten minutes. Read the key words, create one or two questions, and brainstorm by jotting down notes or creating a mind map such as the one above. Review your ideas and place numbers next to them, showing the order in which you would present each section on your essay. Repeat this exercise at least three times using different sample topics. Try to become more efficient at completing the outlines in about five minutes. This exercise doesn't replace other study, but it does provide an opportunity to increase mastery in planning and organizing prior to writing.


Parent Corner:

If the above student is your child, it can be difficult to watch him or her stress out over the challenges of college admission tests. Parents want to help, but often don't know how—and with so many responsibilities of their own, may not have time to sit down and read about these issues. Most parents feel like prisoners in their cars as they rush about all day, doing errands and shuttling kids to various activities! If you're a parent who needs concrete information and strategies to help your teen excel on these high stakes tests, you can become informed during commutes, office breaks, exercise sessions, or trips around town as the chauffeur! Check out the new, audio version of Bizer and Markel's book, "Peterson's Parent's Guide to the SAT & ACT: Practical Advice to Help You and Your Teen." This 3-CD set is complete and unabridged, and comes with a handy insert of tips. The set is also available as a digital download for your computer, iPod, or MP3 player.

Now you can be on the go and still:

  • Discover what every parent needs to know about the SAT and ACT
  • Determine what type of test preparation best suits your child
  • Learn what role a parent should play in the study process
  • Get advice on dealing with parent-teenager communication
  • Find essential info for students with ADD and learning disabilities

To purchase the compact disc set or the audio download of "Parent's Guide to the SAT and ACT: Practical Advice to Help You and Your Teen," click here.


Featured Resources

Do you need to write a report or paper? If you're feeling overwhelmed and disorganized, there are several software programs that can help. For example, Inspiration® Software, Inc. provides visual thinking tools to help visualize and organize writing tasks. Find information at ConceptDraw offers software packages that help employees with mind-mapping, brainstorming, and project completion in business and life settings,



Sneak Preview: NEW BOOK: Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Proven Strategies to Increase Productivity and Decrease Stress. (Prepublication Version-Download Only) This book is designed to arm workforce employees, independent professionals and family managers with simple yet powerful strategies to stop distraction from interfering with effective performance. Practical, step by step techniques help you rid your life of formidable enemies such as The Technology Demon, The Others Demon, The Activities Demon, The Unruly Mind Demon, and four others. Click here.

This purchase entitles you to a free download of the published edition that will be available in June, 2007.

About the workbook for Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction:
A workbook to supplement the text is in preparation. Do you have a story or concern that you want addressed? Send me your survival tip, a question, or answer to any of the following questions: What are your worst demons of distraction? Under what conditions do these demons attack you? How do you deal with them? What advice do you have for others? Contact

A new product is now available! Mem-Cards for Defeating the Demons of Distraction. This pack of 28 fast-reading, pocket -sized cards provides a personal coaching tool that can be used by individuals or in corporate training. Each deck contains the key ideas and important insights from Geri's booklet, Defeating the Demons of Distraction: 111 Ways to Increase Work/Life Performance and Decrease Stress. In just minutes a day, you'll get everything you need to know to improve your life. Available at $9.95 each. For more information or to buy for your own use or as a gift, click here.

Defeating the Demons of Distraction Mem-Cards
  • A special thank-you goes out to "eagle eye" Carol Hoffer for outstanding feedback on previous newsletters!
  • We appreciate you keeping us informed of "technical glitches" such as when our graphics do not appear on your copies—we are working to solve these types of problems.
  • Another thank-you goes to the wonderful members of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), Southeast Michigan Chapter, who participated in Geri's March seminar, "Finding Your Focus: 6 Tools for Dealing with the Chronic Disorganization and Distractibility of Adults with ADD." For anyone who needs help setting up personal or business systems to take control of their papers, supplies, time, etc., a visit from a NAPO professional organizer can open the door to greater success. For general information about NAPO, go to For resources in Michigan, go to


Upcoming Events in May:

  • Geri will present the seminar, "Defeat the 8 Demons of Distraction and Improve Your ADD Coaching Practice and Profits" at the ADHD Coaches Conference in Chicago, IL, May 4-6, 2007.


Happy Spring!

Feel free to forward this newsletter to someone else who might be interested.