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
August 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:



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.



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. Recent topics include travel safety, tackling distracting clutter, and positive distractions. 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

  • Visit the new online headquarters of College Admissions Advisors, the trio behind Solving the College Admissions Puzzle: A Guide for Students and Families About College Selection, Essay Writing and High-Stakes Testing. Geri, John Boshoven, M.A., M.S.W., and Debbie E. Merion, M.S.W., now offer one convenient website where you can purchase the book, contact them about coaching services and follow their blog.
  • Geri presented recently to the "Achieving the Dream Project" at Macomb Community College. The project, headed by Edie Woods, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, is an initiative to help at-risk students become more successful. Geri's staff development workshop was entitled, "Managing Your Academic Mind." She provided information about helping students to identify their study-skill strengths and vulnerabilities; then helping them to improve their time management strategies, study habits, approach to test-taking, test-stress coping mechanisms and organizational skills.
  • During the past semester, Geri participated in a mentoring program co-sponsored by the Urban Scholars & Leaders Scholarship Program, Wayne State University and the Professional Coaches Association of Michigan (PCAM). Jewelita Gant is an honors student completing her undergraduate degree and hopes to go on to law school.

    Geri and Jewelita Gant
  • Geri will be presenting "Family Balance in an Unbalanced World" to the Huron Valley Parents of Multiples support group (date and time to be announced) at Peace Lutheran Church, 8260 Jackson Rd., Ann Arbor, MI. The group has a membership of approximately 130 families, including families with twins, triplets, and one set of quads. If anyone knows about distraction, it's got to be parents of multiples! For more information about the group, 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
    • Please help MYM and UM spread the word about this valuable presentation: feel free to print out, post and/or forward the event flyer for locations such as relevant newsletters, event calendars, office locations and bulletin boards. Thank you for helping to spread the word.
  • The annual Michael Golds Memorial ADHD Conference will take place September 23, 2011 at Oakland Community College, Orchard Ridge Campus, Farmington Hills, MI. This gathering of ADHD experts, educators, affected persons and their families honors the memory of a young man who struggled with AD/HD but who eventually became very academically successful.This year's keynote speaker will be Steve Peer, President of CHADD, on the topic "ADHD through the Lifespan." Geri's colleagues, Isabelle Beaulieu, Ph.D., and Roger Lauer, Ph.D., will present "May I Have Your Attention Please: Improve Your Working Memory (WM)." Further information about sessions and registration is available at the conference link above.
  • Ann Arbor area workshop: "Teens Using Drugs: What To Know and What To Do" is a FREE, ongoing, two-part series designed to help participants learn to understand, identify and address adolescent alcohol/other drug problems. Part 1 is presented on the first Tuesday of each month from October through June, provides information on how to understand and recognize the signs of a teen substance abuse problem, and includes a short video. Part 2 is presented on the second Tuesday of each month from October through June, provides information on what should and should not be done when a teen substance abuse problem is recognized, and concludes with an open talk by a teen speaker in recovery. The series is presented by Ronald E. Harrison, and is co-sponsored by Dawn Farm, the Livingston/Washtenaw Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Consortium, and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System Greenbrook Recovery Center. Open to all; registration is not required. For information, please contact us at (734) 973-7892 or, or see


Goofs and Glitches

College student Sarah is home for the summer after a year of living in a completely different environment. Flush with independence, she has been showing off her new cooking and home management skills. She plans a festive Soccer Sunday, inviting a large group of friends over to have lunch and watch the big match. She spends the morning cleaning, shopping, preparing side dishes and pressing her parents into service to get the barbecue going. Twenty minutes before the guests are due to arrive, her mother sees her heading into the utility room with an armload of laundry. "Sarah, are you sure you want to start a load now? You're in the middle of several other things and you're already running behind." "Oh, it's no problem, I really want to get this done," she replies breezily. When the doorbell rings, Mom steps into the hall to answer it - and screams. The entryway is a pond. The utility room is a sea of soapy water, and it's raining in the basement.

What happened? Sarah had failed to pay attention to the workout clothes that were draped over the edge of the washtub. When the discharge water in the tub reached them, they fell in and plugged the drain. She was rushing and distracted, so that "one more task" was the straw that broke the camel's back. Fortunately, her father's level head and her friends' willingness to pitch in with mops and towels bring the mess under control before halftime. Sarah is humbled the next day as she sorts out basement supplies that got ruined by the flood: "I should have just focused on the party and taken care of the laundry some other time," she sighs.

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

Things that Don't Belong on Top of Cars


Managing Your Academic Mind

It was supposed to be a day of fun and celebration, but the 11-year-olds were grumpy as they walked to their elementary school graduation ceremony. Grandma overheard their apprehensive conversation: "How am I ever gonna find my way around that huge middle school? What if the work is too hard for me? Why do we all have to go to different places--what about all my soccer team friends?" Such big burdens on small shoulders, she thought.

Adults often forget that the transitions we take for granted are difficult and frightening for children and adolescents. There are several underlying sources for their worries. First, all kids face anxieties that emanate from their natural environments and from the usual challenges of life: attending new schools, making new friends, facing more difficult academic work, and navigating puberty. As if this weren't challenging enough, our culture is imposing increasing pressures upon children to perform in extracurricular activities. How many 4th graders are now compelled to spend their entire year attending sports practices, private coaching sessions, travel-league games and weekend tournaments? Tired, overcommitted children cannot cope with the non-age-appropriate situations into which they are being thrust. It's no wonder that many of them react with anxiety. Lastly, the situation becomes even more serious when a child's natural tendencies are to become overwhelmed by stimuli, to overgeneralize scary situations or to respond in an extreme manner to life problems such as divorce.

How can adults cope with anxious children? In the case of typical "growing up" worries, adults need to show understanding and empathy. All kids need support, particularly in the form of information about upcoming transitions and the natural challenges faced by everyone at various ages and stages. When it comes to overscheduled children, parents need to hit the pause button and check for signs of exhaustion, irritability and nervousness. They can initiate conversations with their sons or daughters, asking them tactfully if they feel that they are doing too much. For example, a parent could say, "If you had a magic wand that you could wave to make things better, what activity would you take out of your schedule?" (No, school is not an option!)

Finally, if a child seems to be excessively anxious - either by temperament or due to a particular crisis - he or she will need guidance in order to develop coping mechanisms and use logic to deal with internal worries and stresses. In some cases, the child's support team may include a medical professional, therapist or coach in addition to family members. To better understand the nature of childhood anxiety and the cognitive-behavioral techniques that can help children deal with it, families can read What to Do When You Worry Too Much: a Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Huebner, Ph.D. Dr. Huebner provides helpful advice to parents as well as age-appropriate explanations and exercises for 6-12 year olds.


Life Management

It isn't just our kids who are overcommitted and overscheduled (see above) - when was the last time you permitted yourself to step off life's treadmill for a while? Increasingly, psychologists and authors are suggesting that we need to take time to allow our creative juices to flow. As author Christian McEwen advises, "Don't just do something, stand there." McEwen suggests slowing down and getting out of the crazy busy routine. As proof, she describes the virtues of idleness in the creative lives of various artists and poets.

What about you? If you're feeling overwhelmed and under-creative, schedule some idle time for relaxation, rejuvenation, creativity, and/or analytical thinking. The first thing that you'll probably have to do is to reduce your connected- and online-time. One way to ensure this is to impose an Electronic Lockdown during which you turn off or silence all gadgets and devices. Start with 10-15 minutes: you'll find that the world really can get along without you for that long! Eventually, you may enjoy scheduling 20-40 minutes, a few times per week, to swing in a hammock, listen to music, stroll in nature, or gaze at the stars. Or, if it's more comfortable, engage in a simple activity that still allows your mind to wander: some people prefer gardening or crafts such as knitting. See what happens when you "do nothing." For more ideas on finding positive distractions, follow Geri's blog. For example, she found that a soothing massage was the key to unleashing a wave of creative thinking.


Featured Resources

It's always a pleasure to drop off or pick up clothes at C.D. McClatchey Tailoring in Ann Arbor. The slacks or coats are done on time, the conversation is pleasant, and the workmanship flawless. Connie has been in business since 1980, first on William (off State Street), then below Afternoon Delight and now at 213 S. Fourth Avenue, 1B, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-2134, tel. (734) 994- 5158.

Here's Connie with her pal, Page, 3 years old



  • New Book New publication: "365 Secrets of Study Success: A Tip a Day Gets an "A." Geri's amassed a tip a day with motivating quotes for secondary and post secondary students. When students learn how to learn, they can show what they know on tests, papers, projects and presentations. Now available in print or download versions. A perfect gift for the college bound student!
  • 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:

  • An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine by Howard Markel: recently featured as a cover review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review, this volume explores the lives of two professionals, born in the 1850s, who spent their early careers experimenting with the then-unknown properties of the coca plant. Both Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, and Halsted, a pioneer of modern surgery techniques, became addicted to this substance. They did not know each other, yet they traveled parallel paths, achieving exceptional scientific and methodological discoveries influenced by - and despite - their struggles with chemical dependency. Howard Markel's prose is flowing, readable and chockfull of fascinating insights about Western beliefs and culture during the near-century of Halsted and Freud's lifespans.


It's August! Enjoy the fruits and vegetables available at your local Farmer's Market!

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