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 2011

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.

You'll find the following sections in this issue:



New Office Space!

Geri is now meeting clients and conducting "Managing Your Academic Mind" seminars at 304 1/2 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. (Enter next to Ben & Jerry's and take the stairs to the second floor, near Dascola Barber.) This location will allow for small group instruction in the following areas:

  • Boot camp for high school students to prepare their college applications. In addition, classes about making college selections and writing college essays.
  • Taking college admissions and other tests (How to Deal with Test Stress, Advanced Test Taking Skills).
  • Advanced reading and study skills (How to Read Tons of Material, How to Organize and Write Papers).
  • For adults in the workplace: Time Management and Reducing Distractibility at the Office.

Call (734) 761-6498) or email if you are interested in small group services.


New Blog!

Geri's "Demons of Distraction" blog is up and running! The blog focuses on Barriers to Productivity, particularly those that affect career and work/life balance. In December, Geri discussed the distractions and stresses that the holidays add to "regular" life. January topics examine ways to make a "fresh start" and move from intention to action. To access a steady supply of helpful tips and reminders, follow Geri on Twitter, "Like" the "Defeating the 8 Demons" Facebook page and bookmark the blog.

Here in the newsletter, MYM will continue to provide announcements as well as information and tips on memory, time management, and organization. Features will be grouped into two new, expanded sections, the first of which is Managing Your Academic Mind, for students of all ages and their families. There, you'll find resources on education, study skills and academic time management, college and graduate school admissions and testing, and AD/HD concerns. The second section will be Life Management, which includes positive strategies to deal with issues that affect your home and family life, including health and wellness, parenting, caregiving, transitions, and managing finances. And of course, you will still see Goofs & Glitches and Positive Distractions - because we never seem to run out of either!

Questions? Comments? Suggested topics? Click on the links above to Tweet back, write on our Facebook wall, or react to a blog entry. Or, email Share your thoughts and ideas!


Events: Recent/Upcoming

  • Geri is offering "Acing the ACT/SAT, Spring 2011" test preparation sessions for April-June test dates. Topics include: Time Management/Organization, Test Preparation/Study, Reading Section, Writing Section, and Test Stress. Two- and four- part sessions are available. For more information, click here.
  • Great news from the University of Michigan: there will be plenty of room for everybody at this year's National AD/HD Awareness Week Event on Wednesday, September 21, 2011.The venue has been moved to spacious Rackham Auditorium, so please plan to attend and bring your friends, family, and colleagues. The 2011 guest speaker will be Kevin Roberts, author of Cyber Junkie: Escape the Gaming and Internet Trap (Hazelden, $14.95 paper, 200p, ISBN 9781592859481).
    • Internet addiction, a growing, international issue, has particularly severe implications for individuals already facing the challenges of AD/HD and other conditions. Kevin, who was our Featured Resource in the June - July 2008 MYM Newsletter, is an AD/HD coach and a mentor to those struggling with online gaming addiction. For more information on Kevin and his book, visit


Goofs and Glitches

Did you ever have a Demon of Distraction hitch a ride home with you after a trip to the supermarket? On a recent trip to Whole Foods, a busy woman justified a deli counter purchase of over $25 with the happy thought that lunch would be taken care of for the next two or three days. When she returned home with her purchases, including that night's pizza, she set the deli bag on the kitchen table and began dishing out the pizza while it was still hot. Several times, she turned to attend to the deli items, but was interrupted by yowling cats, answering machine messages, and family members. Somehow, the bag was missed in the after-dinner kitchen clean-up; in fact, she did not discover her spinach mixture and potato salad until 36 hours later. Needless to say, she has been eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch ever since.

In another family, a man asked his brother to pick up a large order of meat for him at a warehouse store. "Throw it in your cooler and bring it to the barbeque on Sunday, and I'll get it from you there." The shopping sibling did a bang-up job, loading hundreds of dollars worth of tenderloin, rack of lamb, steaks, and chops into his ice chest. At Sunday dinner, he slid the chest into the back of his brother's SUV and headed into Mom's for a cold beer. Unfortunately, that was the last that either man thought about the transaction for three days, when the cooler could no longer contain the disgusting stench of rotting meat. Don't lose focus somewhere between the store parking lot and your refrigerator; build a routine for dealing with cold foods immediately and don't be distracted from it.

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


Managing Your Academic Mind

After numerous presentations to students at the University of Michigan--including Rackham Graduate School, the Medical School and the School of Dentistry--it became apparent to Geri that students could really use a collection of short-but-savvy study tips. However, she knew that no young person would want to just read endless lists of advice all at once, thus the idea of "365 Secrets of Study Success: A Tip a Day Gets an A" was born. Geri refined and developed the project during sessions of "parallel play" with her productivity buddy, Chris Bidlack [see Late Summer 2010 MYM Newsletter: It Works for Me, and below]. Printed, e-book, and Twitter versions of the booklet will be available on the MYM website in Fall, 2011. In the meantime, since April-June are prime months for papers, projects, final exams and standardized testing, Geri will share five tips each month on topics such as reading, test preparation, and test-taking.

Tips for April:

  1. Reading: Define a purpose for reading and then select a strategy to fulfill that purpose. Ask, "Should I survey, skim, or read closely?"
  2. Reading: View reading as a method of processing information rather than a mechanical act of reading each word.
  3. Reading: View vocabulary as a basic building block of comprehension and use illustrations to help understand and memorize meaning.
  4. Reading: Take a few minutes after you read a selection to write a brief summary and then add two facts and examples.
  5. Reading: Turn the bold titles of the chapter into questions. Answer by writing notes in the margin. Focus on main ideas, then on facts.


Life Management

Hats off once again to Geri's friend, Chris Bidlack of Bidlack Creative Group. Chris' simple, elegant, and foolproof system for keeping on track consists of one sheet of paper tucked into his shirt pocket. His colorful, day-at-a-glance planning card is divided into half-hour segments. Each day, goals and activities are clear and precise: he writes all of his appointments in ink, but all of his tasks in pencil. This strategy allows flexibility within structure. His Day Planning Card is light, portable, and involves no cords, batteries, or finicky auto-correct. Others might devise a color-coding system on the card to highlight high-priority events or tasks, but Chris prefers his basic pen/pencil method to stay on target and enhance productivity. Would going old-school work better for you? Try it out for a week or two.

Bidlack's Card


Featured Resources

Is your raucously beeping alarm clock too rude of an awakening for you? Do you notice that your day begins better if you can wake up gently and gradually? The Hammacher-Schlemmer Peaceful Progression Wake Up Clock can provide you with a softer landing when you exit Dreamland. "The clock gradually increases ambient light, stimulating aromas, and peaceful sounds to awaken sleepers. Thirty minutes before wake-up time, the light glows softly, brightening over the next half-hour while faint aromatherapy scents release into the air. Fifteen minutes before wake up, the clock generates one of six soft nature sounds; a buzzer sounds at the end of the cycle." $69.95



  • Coaching is now only a computer screen away! Using Mac's iChat or Skype, you can have audio and/or video coaching sessions with simultaneous text-based instant messaging. Skype is a free, downloadable service that provides free calls, video calls, and instant messaging over the internet (; for information about iChat, search for your particular model. Moderately priced computer webcams and microphones are readily available. Both domestic and international clients are taking advantage of this convenient and effective way to improve productivity and reduce stress levels. To inquire, contact Geri, or tel. (734) 761-6498.
  • New edition! Three experts provide their best college admissions advice in Solving the College Admissions Puzzle: a Guide for Students and Families About College Selection, Essay Writing and High-Stakes Testing by John Boshoven, M.A., M.S.W., Debbie E. Merion, M.S.W., and Geraldine Markel, Ph.D. Decide on the right schools for you, find your unique voice to write a compelling application essay, and score your best on high-stakes tests such as the ACT and SAT. John, Debbie, and Geri help families fit together the pieces of the college admissions process. Available on the website. $12.95, digital download $10.00.
  • Attention! The second edition of Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Proven Strategies to Increase Productivity and Decrease Stress is now published by iUniverse. 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, which was a Finalist for the USA Book News Best Books 2009 Award, can be purchased in e-book format from iUniverse or as a download through
  • Recognize and reward progress! Are you a speaker, consultant, coach, or business owner? If you need memorable and useful gifts or incentives for your clients, consider the products below. The tips and strategies to help people accomplish more in the New Year 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


Reading: A Positive Distraction

Do you belong to a book club? Are your members having trouble finding the time to finish their monthly selections? What about a meeting to discuss the Demons of Distraction? For book clubs of ten or more members, Geri would be happy to present a session featuring her book, Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Proven Strategies to Increase Productivity and Decrease Stress. Learn how to reduce distraction and increase time for reading and other meaningful life activities. Visit to read summaries and reviews of Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Proven Strategies to Increase Productivity and Decrease Stress

Getting lost in a good book can be a wonderful distraction. Even fifteen minutes of reading time, curled up in your den or a cozy cafe, can really be rejuvenating. Here are some favorites that Geri and her staff enjoyed recently:

  • Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Boerge Hellström: have you worked your way through Mankell and Larsson but find that you're still hungry for Swedish crime stories? This one was recently awarded the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers' Award for Swedish Crime Novel of the Year. The plot involves an ex-con-turned-undercover-police-agent trying to infiltrate the Polish mafia. Co-author Hellstroem is a former criminal who provides a unique, insider perspective on this shadowy world. An excellent translation keeps the suspense and action flowing throughout.
  • Freakonomics:a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner: this 2006 book has spawned several follow-ups, as well as a blog and a free podcast available on iTunes. Levitt is a Harvard- and MIT-trained professor of economics at the University of Chicago. He has won many honors for his out-of-the box approach to- and influence-on his field. Readers of Malcolm Gladwell will recognize not only Levitt's intellectual curiosity about cultural phenomena and "conventional wisdom" but also his ability to reframe the questions in his search for answers. He and Dubner take on difficult and controversial topics involving the relationships between economics and politics, race, class, and criminal justice.
  • Philippe Halsman's Jump Book by Philippe Halsman: in the 1950's, photographer Halsman was responsible for many LIFE Magazine covers. He preferred action shots over still portraits, however, so he convinced celebrity subjects from Richard Nixon to Grace Kelly to jump in front of his lens. His method of "jumpology" seemed to bring out childlike exuberance in even the most stately subjects. Check out the terrific snaps of the "rich and famous" of yesteryear--Marilyn Monroe, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Brigitte Bardot, and others having a bit of fun!


April snow showers bring... a lot of complaining. And delicious matzoh balls. Happy Passover and Easter!

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