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
December 2007

Welcome to the December, 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 practical newsletter providing tips, stories, resources, and announcements. 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:



Goofs and Glitches

With life moving into overdrive at this time of the year, multitasking can result in some pretty bizarre glitches. Jane recalls looking up a holiday cookie recipe in a large, three ring-bound cookbook. She whipped off her distance glasses to check the ingredients, then became involved in the mixing and baking process. As the trays heated in the oven, she cleaned up her work area and replaced the cookbook onto the shelf. Long after the cookies had been consumed, Jane still could not find her glasses and ended up having to buy another pair, a major expense. A couple of months later, she grabbed the same cookbook for a different recipe - and found her glasses folded right into the spine, behind the snapping rings.

Carole was also preparing food when her moment of distraction hit: she was finishing up a conversation on her cordless phone and hit the "end call" button with one hand, using the other to open up the freezer. Spotting what she needed, she put the telephone handset down on the freezer shelf, grabbed the item, and shut the freezer door. She must have taken quite a ribbing when she later had to explain why the freezer was ringing!

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


Strategies for Success:

During the holidays, everyday pressures such as stress, rushing, over commitment, dealing with technology, and multitasking are intensified. Most adults take on extra responsibilities to meet the increased family, social, and workplace expectations of the season. Try the following tips to manage THE EIGHT DEMONS OF DISTRACTION at holiday time:

  1. List your tasks and activities, and then schedule them into time slots. Santa had it right when he checked twice: can you reasonably accomplish everything within the allotted amount of time? Does your schedule truly reflect your priorities and values?
  2. Communicate to others what you want and need in order to accomplish mutual holiday goals. Be assertive; your feelings are just as important as those of others in the situation. Use your schedule to help you say "no" to over-commitment.
  3. Control the technology you use, not the other way around. Institute an Electronic Lockdown when a task takes concentration: turn off /silence everything except the piece of equipment you need to use (including the alert sound for new email).
  4. Manage the places and spaces you occupy. Holiday decorations and music in public spaces can be excessively distracting and over-stimulating; leave areas in your workplace and home minimally decorated for quiet focus or relaxation.
  5. Recognize the physical and emotional symptoms of stress: headaches, sleeplessness, digestive upset, jitteriness, and comments from others on your behavior. Use proven methods to manage stress, such as exercise, relaxation activities, and better nutrition.
  6. Address the issue of fatigue! Holiday activities mean extra driving; fatigued drivers put themselves and everyone around them at risk. Fatigued workers commit more errors on the job. Make sleep a priority and take refreshing breaks frequently.
  7. Consider the effects of illness and medication during the holidays. Cut back and give yourself the gift of recovery if you've been ill. Keep to your medication schedule despite changes in your routine. Remember that alcoholic beverages and medications don't mix!
  8. Tame your Unruly Mind: if holiday pressures have you lost in daydreaming, hyper-focusing on minor details to the exclusion of more important ones, or spinning your wheels with racing thoughts, signal yourself back to attention. Seek support if you need it.

Take some action against distraction! With increased awareness and some simple strategies, you can get more done and have more fun during this holiday season.


Student/Parent Corner

Who better to guide families through the stressful period of final exams than those who've survived many rounds themselves? A group of graduate students in dental school provided these suggestions for coping with those high pressure days that high school and college students face in December and January:

Top Five Most Critical Study Tips for Finals

  1. Plan for different modes of study time, such as alternating working alone with working in a group, or changing your study location during the day to suit your alertness level: for example, a coffee shop in the morning, but the library later in the day.
  2. Stop the distractions: turn off computers, phones, and music. Use a kitchen timer to help you stay on the study track for a set length of time.
  3. Learn a general concept, then learn a few facts and details, then identify a few examples.
  4. Use a variety of visual aids when memorizing: draw illustrations and diagrams; stand up and use a white board to write notes/summaries/key words; recite facts out loud; carry flash cards and use them when waiting in line or during other down times; test yourself by creating a variety of questions such as true/false, fill in the blank, and multiple choice questions after reviewing a lecture or text chapter.
  5. Prepare materials and pack your backpack the night before. Plan to awaken earlier before exams to prevent rushing and agitation. Use a back-up alarm system to prevent oversleeping.

Top Five Most Critical Stress Management Tips for Finals

  1. Drink lots of water, try to plan ahead for healthy meals and snacks, and get at least 6-7 hours of sleep per night during this period. Say NO to going out every night!
  2. Balance physical and mental tasks: during a short study break, pack a lunch or vacuum. Use ten minute study breaks to walk outside, jump rope, or take the stairs to a restroom or vending machine on another floor.
  3. Expect and plan for moderate stress. Get humorous or entertaining objects, audio, or reading material for short "humor breaks."
  4. Keep in touch with others but manage the circumstances, such as using short emails when phone conversations would be disruptive. If you are spiritual, allow time for prayer, meditation, attending worship services, or religious fellowship.
  5. Have reasonable expectations for your grades and performance. Put the pressure to compete and be "the best" into perspective: for example, envision your success over a long and rewarding career.


Featured Resources

Just when those holiday order catalogs are threatening to bury your household, along comes the December, 2007 issue of Carolyn Anderson-Fermann's Simply Organized LifeTM, a free monthly e-newsletter! Anderson-Fermann suggests visiting the website Catalog Choice to remove your name from the mailing lists of companies whose products do not interest you. The Simply Organized LifeTM. mission is to provide clients with more time and space for the things that really matter in life. To learn about Anderson-Fermann's services and to receive her helpful organizing tips each month, visit Simply Organized Life and sign up for your own copy of the e-newsletter.



Geri’s NEW BOOK: Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Proven Strategies to Increase Productivity and Decrease Stress is now available! 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. In Ann Arbor, it's on the shelves of Nicola's Books in the Westgate Shopping Center; call (734) 662-0600 or visit for directions. The book can also be ordered from and Geri will also have copies on hand for purchase and signing at several upcoming events, see below.

Gift Ideas Under $10! Stocking stuffers, office gift exchanges, thank-you's to service providers, care packages to college students, and a show of support to anyone who wants practical ways to turn their New Year's resolutions into life achievements!

  • Defeating the Demons of Distraction booklet Booklets Defeating the Demons of Distraction: 111 Ways To Increase Performance and Decrease Stress. A handy job aid or reference, this 16 page, versatile, stand-alone, 3.5 x 8.5" booklet shows how to combat the competing forces that zap focus and energy at work and home. Available at $5.00 each. To preview this booklet, click here. For more information or to buy for your own use or as a gift for the holiday season, click here.
  • Defeating the Demons of Distraction Mem-Cards 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 for the holiday season, click here.

New documentary on AD/HD, available on DVD: Lion and the Lamb Entertainment has extended the introductory price of $29.95 for the new documentary by Steve McAllister Attention Deficit Disorder: Life at a Different Pace. This compelling, 45 minute expose on ADD/ADHD premiered in Sarasota, Florida on National Attention Deficit Disorder Awareness Day, September 19, 2007 and will soon be featured at the Regional ADDA Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. The DVD contains two versions of the film, the 45 minute version and a 30 minute version for use with group discussions. To see the trailer and to buy your copies now, go to



Holiday Recipe: Stuffed Artichokes

Geri spills her secrets on another Sicilian delicacy: stuffed artichokes. This recipe brings back warm, holiday memories of her father, Charlie Ponte, and his colorful cooking. Stuffed artichokes are as good cold as hot, and you can plan to make them ahead of your gathering.


  • 4-6 whole artichokes, trimmed
  • 2 cups Progresso seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan and/or Romano cheese
  • Sprinkle of chopped, fresh, Italian parsley, oregano, Lawry's garlic salt, and ground black pepper
  • Olive oil to moisten
  • Two large bay leaves
  • Bouillon cube, optional
  1. Mix dried ingredients, moisten with small amount of olive oil.
  2. Wash and trim artichokes, remove stems. Pound upside down once or twice to open leaves.
  3. Stuffed moistened bread crumb mixture deep into leaves.
  4. Place artichokes in a deep, heavy pot with one to three inches of water, just covering the bottom leaves. Add stems and bay leaves into the water. Add chicken or vegetable flavored bouillon cube if desired. Simmer, partially covered, until leaves pull away easily, approximately 40 minutes.
  5. Transfer artichokes to a large serving platter. Serve hot or cool to room temperature.

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


Have a Wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

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