Managing Your Mind
3975 Waldenwood • Ann Arbor, MI 48105 • tel/fax (734)761-6498 •
Geraldine A. Markel, Ph.D. •
Geri Markel
Managing Your Mind Newsletter
April 2008

Welcome to the Managing Your Mind Newsletter, where you can find information and strategies to help you manage your mind and enhance your work, life, and/or school performance.

Feel free to contact me with your questions, concerns, and suggestions. Previous issues are archived in our Newsletter Archive. Sample checklists and diagrams are archived there under The Geri Checklists.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Please add to your address book so you'll be sure to receive every issue. "Spam" filters may place future editions of this newsletter in your "junk" or "deleted" folder unless it is a recognized address. AOL 9.0 users, you have to permit mail or your ezines will be placed in "bulk sender" or "unknown sender" list.

You'll find the following sections in this issue:



International Blogger, S.V. Swamy, Reviews Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Proven Strategies to Increase Productivity and Reduce Stress

"...All of us would have wished at some time or other that we had a good mentor and coach to guide us how to deal with the battle against the demons of distraction. This book is an answer to our wishes. ...[T]he highly readable style of this book held my attention sufficiently so that I could read it in the space of a few days after a long day of work. ...This book would make a good present to anyone (employee, homemaker, businessman, student) who finds that distractions are affecting their lives adversely. So, buy it for yourself and/or someone you care for."

Read S. V. Swamy's full review at


"It Worked For Me"

Sue's Story: "I'm a grandmother now, but I still remember how frustrated parents and kids can become with each other after repeated homework and housework struggles. Sometimes when a grandparent can step in and break the tension, everybody benefits. As a retired teacher, I recently used a few tried and true methods to help my eleven year old grandson, Bill, complete some daunting homework assignments - without frustration and tears. Here are the steps I used for completing homework."

For Homework:

  • Break down the assignment into short, very "doable" steps.
  • List these mini tasks.
  • Check off each problem as it is completed.
  • Allow a 1 minute break between problems (or tasks) with a stretch or walk around the table.
  • Whistle or sing a song every 5 minutes.

For other tips to help with Completing a Final Draft of an Essay or Completing Chores, click here.


Goofs and Glitches

Elijah, an involved and conscientious student at a crowded city high school, spends each day trying to balance his load of advanced classes with extracurricular commitments like instrumental performances and volunteering at a local homeless shelter. As yet another math lecture drones on after lunch, he finds himself unable to concentrate on taking notes because his desk chair keeps tilting over on its one short leg. He considers jamming a textbook under the offending leg, but can't do so without attracting the wrath of his teacher. In a moment of inspiration, he eases his wallet out of his pocket, leans over casually and stuffs it into the gap between chair and floor. Problem solved! When the bell rings, his mind tries to transition from equations to experiments as he loads his backpack and races to navigate the gridlocked hallways of the science wing before time runs out. The subsequent inhabitant of his desk spends the next hour enjoying not only a well balanced chair, but the contents of his wallet - which, unfortunately, Elijah never sees again. Unlike some goofs, this incident wasn't funny!

Funny or inconvenient, let's share our experiences. If you have one to share, send it to


Strategies for Success:

Being immersed in a challenging or unpleasant project can trigger unproductive reactions such as: avoiding your work or interrupting it due to daydreaming; jumping from task to task without completing anything because your mind is racing; or becoming hopelessly stuck because you're hyper focusing on one small aspect of a larger assignment.

If certain responsibilities find you experiencing a productivity crisis, consider Tips #102 and #104 from Geri's booklet, Defeating the Demons of Distraction: 111 Ways To Increase Work/Life Performance and Decrease Stress: use visualization and self-talk to motivate yourself, enhance your performance, and stop intrusive thoughts. Imagine yourself as a sprinter. Exert your mental energy and concentrate for a while and then take a break. You can accomplish a lot in a brief time when you are focused.

For example, Meditation Mount, an Ojai, California center dedicated to self-growth, group endeavor, harmony with nature, and world peace, produces a series of visually striking, printed cards with motivating words such as "enthusiasm," "creativity," "balance," and "patience." The center recommends using a combination of text and visual imagery to remind you to bring inspirational qualities to your work and life.


Student/Parent Corner

The waning months of this school year have many families pondering what they can do to make next year a better one, especially if it will involve important standardized tests for undergraduate or graduate school admissions. Mailboxes are already filling with advertisements from test preparation companies, educational summer camps, and commercial tutoring outfits. But before parents open their wallets, they should assess the type of assistance their child needs, and consider the optimal delivery system for their child's personality.

There are three basic approaches to gaining knowledge of specific subjects: remedial work, review work, and new learning. Review work assumes that students have necessary skills but need to brush up on certain subjects. New learning can include introducing students to subject- or skill- specific information such as ACT/SAT test-taking strategies. However, with summer approaching, the most critical consideration for parents is remedial work: remedial work is needed when students are performing poorly (C grades or lower) in the core subjects of English and math, when standardized tests reveal two or more years difference between test scores and present grade level, and/or when the practice versions of standardized tests, such as the PSAT or PLAN, indicate a weakness in a specific area or skill. Students may also perceive their own trouble spots, for example, when they say, "I need to learn to read faster," or, "I hate geometry."

Remedial work is best done in summer because the students' minds are clearer, and the lessons are not competing with other homework. There are also more options available, both in the number of tutors with openings, and in special programs run by schools and community colleges. Parents often consider a commercial tutoring outfit first. This may be suitable for some students, but there are caveats. If a student is on the go the entire day and then shows up for a course between 7-10 pm, he or she will probably be too exhausted to absorb the content. Parents often assume that mere attendance will fix the problem, but it takes practice to cement the skills learned. Nothing is more depressing than spending hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars on a commercial course, only to find that your child is inattentive and fails to progress. Especially in cases where there is a particular difficulty or learning disability, private tutoring or coaching provides a better cost-benefit ratio. Teachers who specialize in math or reading often tutor in the summer, and will provide more individualized instruction and be able to capitalize on the student's strengths to a greater degree. To read more about helping your student increase knowledge and skills, check out Peterson's Parent's Guide to the SAT & ACT. You should also consult with your school counselor, school psychologist, and pediatrician.


Featured Resources

An MYM Newsletter reader alerted Geri to another brand of mind-mapping software, MindManager from MindJet. Both personal and professional versions of MindManager are available to help customers "work smarter, think creatively, and save time." The software can be used for note-taking, brainstorming ideas, information and communication sharing, project management, and personal planning; the company also touts its integration with and enhancement of Microsoft Office. A free trial of the software can be downloaded from the MindJet website.



  • Geri was recently interviewed by Jim Allen, the Big Idea Coach, The interview will be available on the MYM web site by mid June.
  • It was standing room only at the University of Michigan back on September 19, 2007, when Geri presented "Defeating the Demons of Distraction" in recognition of National AD/HD Awareness Day! This program is now available to everyone in either audio or video form. In it, Geri describes distraction as a primary characteristic of adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. She discusses the 8 common demons and strategies to increase task completion, speed, and accuracy. Available as CD or DVD for $12.95 (+S/H) from the Managing Your Mind website.
  • Attention! The second edition of Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Proven Strategies to Increase Productivity and Decrease Stress has now been published by iUniverse. New price, $15.95! Copies can be ordered from the publisher's website,, from, and from Books can be special-ordered at Borders and Barnes & Noble, and are on the shelf in Ann Arbor at Nicola's Books. Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction can be purchased in e-book format from iUniverse or as a download through
  • Shake off the winter cobwebs and join all of nature in renewing and improving your life! The tips and strategies to help you stay on track are available in several handy formats: paperback, pocket-sized deck of cards, and 16-page concise booklet. Check out all of the "Defeating the Demons of Distraction" products.
Defeating the Demons of Distracton Book Defeating the Demons of Distration Cards Defeating the Demons of Distraction Brochure


Upcoming Conferences

  • Geri will be speaking at FOCUS+, an adult AD/HD support in Holland, MI, on May 13, 2008. Geri will be providing tips to members on how to navigate the transition between the end of the school year and the beginning of summer schedules. Challenges include child care/camp arrangements, planning for successful family vacations, and other seasonal responsibilities. This information will be included in the Managing Your Mind May newsletter, as well. For more information about FOCUS+, visit or contact Ruth Evanhouse, (616) 392-4381,


Cooking: A Positive Distraction

Cooking can be a positive and creative distraction. If you are one of the many people who find that cooking is relaxing, you may enjoy the recipes that are shared each month. If you have a favorite recipe, feel free to send it in to be shared. Here's one you may enjoy.

Recipe: Uncle Ben's Old Fashioned Rice Pudding

How many of you can remember the sweet smell of cinnamon and vanilla wafting through the kitchen as a grandparent made old fashioned rice pudding? Here's Geri's favorite version, which she tracked down through the Uncle Ben's company. The process can be made easier these days if you own a rice cooker, but here's the recipe that Geri enjoyed in her childhood, before she had to count any calories.

  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup Uncle Ben's Converted Brand Rice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup raisins, steamed in water and drained (optional)
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)

Bring water to a boil. Stir in rice and salt. Cover and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Add milk and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Combine eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. Gradually stir in rice mixture; mix well. Pour into greased 1 1/2 quart casserole. If desired, stir in raisins and sprinkle nutmeg or cinnamon over top. Place casserole in pan containing about 1 inch hot water. Bake, uncovered, in 350 ° F oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Makes 5 to 6 servings.

Take a photo of your creation and share your success: mail photos and comments to


Welcome Spring!

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