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

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.

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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. 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 will be presenting Study Skills and Time Management for Engineering Students at the University of Michigan College of Engineering (north campus) on March 31, 2011.
  • 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

Lacey is fighting with herself. All of the ingredients for Beef Bourguignon have been sitting in her refrigerator for a couple of days, and need to be used. All, that is, except the red wine, which she forgot to buy. "It's late, and it's cold, and I'm tired. I don't want to go out again," she whines inwardly. "And how are you going to feel when you have to toss out that cut of beef?" responds the good fairy on her other shoulder. "Okay, okay, I won't be lazy; I'll just run in, grab the wine, and hurry home to cook." At the grocery store, Lacey bumps into an acquaintance whom she is delighted to see: they wheel up and down the aisles together, grabbing items, catching up on each other's lives and sharing many laughs. When both are finished paying and bagging their purchases, they part with smiles on their faces and promises to keep in touch. Lacey feels jubilant all the way home, despite having to "schlep" in more grocery bags than she planned to fill. It's only when she empties the bags on the counter and can't find the red wine that her smile fades. Suddenly, she realizes that she must have placed the bottle into her friend's cart instead of her own. No fragrant, tender, French stew for her tonight... Even serendipity can be distracting!

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


Managing Your Academic Mind

  • It's a scenario played out in homes across the land. Parent: "How's the math homework coming? Did you study for the quiz this week?" High School Student: "It's fine." Parent: "Those interim grades weren't 'fine...'" High School Student: "Don't worry, I've got it covered. Stop nagging me." (Two weeks later, an email arrives from the math teacher, warning that the student is in danger of failing the semester.) In one family, disaster was narrowly averted after the scandalized father ransacked the student's bedroom, finding completed-but-never-turned-in homework under the bed, wedged behind the desk, and crumpled in the bottom of the backpack.

    If parents have been fighting with their teens about homework for a while, it's time to stop the unproductive cycle and negotiate new roles and responsibilities. Geri provides helpful advice to all parents, including those whose children have special needs, in an article in Special Education Advisor online: "At this age, however, homework can become the battleground over which independence/dependence issues emerge. Even when parents were effective as helpers or tutors in younger years, adolescents begin to resist their involvement." She recommends that parents be pleasant but firm in stating that it is still their duty to provide some structure and supervision when it comes to academic success--but that they can come to a mutual agreement on how this will work. For instance, the parent and student might agree that if three weeks go by without the parent seeing evidence that work is being completed and receiving passing grades, the parent will schedule a family meeting with the teacher. For other suggestions on how to support adolescents with their homework, click here.

  • Homework isn't the only way to build work ethic and a sense of personal responsibility in children. Well before the teenage years, children benefit from having age-appropriate chores to reinforce their roles as members of a family team that keeps the house running. Parents may also expect them to perform special jobs that go above and beyond normal activities; some families may decide that these jobs merit extra allowance or a specified dollar amount--especially if one would normally have to hire an outside worker to perform the chore. For example, a parent who lives in a large, corner house needs to have the sidewalks cleared for safety reasons. She and her young teens came up with printed flyer that lists each component of the overall job, and the corresponding amount of compensation. Not only do the kids see clearly what it takes to complete the job, but they appreciate that their work has actual monetary value to the household.


Life Management

Managing one's life includes fitting in all the "shoulds" like periodic medical checkups, regular exercise, and healthy eating--on top of work, home, and family/social responsibilities. Often, though, you can check all of these tasks off of your mental "to do" list and yet still feel dissatisfied and stressed out. The missing element is relaxation: periods of true mental and physical ease that allow both body and spirit to refresh and regenerate. Geri and her colleagues often exchange ideas about ways to achieve this state; in fact, just as she decided to blog about her experiences with massage, she received the following in the newsletter of Dr. David Chinsky, an expert in leadership development:

"Early in my career, I began to notice a trend: as I signed up for more and more responsibilities, I experienced increasing amounts of stress. ...As I discussed this one day with a colleague, she suggested that I go float. When you go 'floating,' you are closed up in a large, light-proof, sound-proof flotation tank filled with a shallow pool of water and Epsom salt, which is five times denser and more buoyant than sea water. This allows you to lie back and float effortlessly on the surface with all parts of your body firmly supported...almost like an astronaut in zero gravity. ...I decided to give it a shot, and I spent one hour a week floating for almost six months. It was one of the most peaceful experiences of my life..."

Chinsky describes the amazing effects that floating, and eventually massage, had on his mood and most importantly, on his work life. To read about his experiences and benefit from his expertise in developing management and leadership skills, visit and sign up for David's ezine, The Fit Leader. You may also want to research and discuss with friends and colleagues the benefits of mindfulness and relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or Tai Chi. In Dr. Chinsky's words, " is critical to find some way to regulate your stress. After all, stress management is an essential part of a healthy and vital life. Relaxation isn't just about peace of mind. It is also a process that decreases the wear and tear on your mind and body from the challenges and hassles of daily life."


Featured Resources

  • Geri's colleague, Debbie E. Merion, M.S.W., recommends the iStudyTracker application for iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone. This $2.99 app allows users to set a time goal for working on particular courses or projects. Once "start" is selected, your device will act as a timer, tracking your study minutes until you push "stop." The app can provide you with data (including graphs) on time spent studying/working on a daily or weekly basis. Those who are self-employed, free-lancers, or who work from home may find iStudyTracker a handy way to track hours spent on business tasks vs. other responsibilities. For students trying to improve their time management skills, the app can help them see whether their allotted study time is realistic and sufficient to reach their goals. As with any tool, however, the ultimate responsibility lies with the user; iStudyTracker may award a checkmark for twenty minutes logged on its timer, but it can't determine the quality of work accomplished during that twenty minutes. In that sense, it differs very little from the old-fashioned kitchen timer. But if the portability and visual display features appeal to you, check it out on iTunes.
  • Remember those early, sleepless days of parenting? You probably took a great deal of comfort in swapping stories and exchanging advice with other moms and dads. If you're parenting a child who has been diagnosed with AD/HD, it is even more crucial now to tap into the support and wisdom of those who have also walked in your shoes. Considering joining CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). CHADD offers a special program to its members: Parent to Parent: A Family Training Program on AD/HD®. You can sit in the comfort of your home and watch the presentation on your computer while interacting with the presenter by phone. This seven-session class includes a science-based curriculum with training provided by an experienced and certified Parent-to-Parent Teacher. Each of the two-hour sessions covers an area of information absolutely essential to the successful management of ADHD. And best of all, the training is presented from a parent's perspective, by people who have faced the same struggles, questions and challenges you do. For just $149, you'll receive 14 hours of the latest scientific and clinical information about AD/HD. CHADD also offers courses in your community through their local chapters. Visit for more information on membership and registration for family training sessions.



  • 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:

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry: as discussed last month, certain books have crossover appeal to both teens and adults, such as the Harry Potter series. If you're looking for another tale that will generate plenty of discussion around the dinner table, try this mystical work by the acclaimed author of Number the Stars. The tale follows Jonas, a pre-teen, as he comes of age in a seemingly Utopian society. While his childhood friends are slotted into narrow and simplistic roles within their community, Jonas is designated the next Receiver of Memories. He, alone, bears the burden of knowledge about the dark secrets of their little world and what lies beyond it. His decisions about how to act upon this knowledge make for a gripping and controversial storyline. Companion volumes in this series include Gathering Blue and The Messenger.
  • For other titles that both adults and teens may enjoy, visit the Young Adult Library Services Association website. Here you'll find current and past Alex Award winners, given annually to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett is an eye-opener even for those who thought they knew a great deal about the era of Jim Crow discrimination laws in the South. Stockett's novel meanders from the parlors of "white ladies" in Jackson, Mississippi to the kitchens of their "colored" domestic employees on the wrong side of the tracks. As an awareness of racial inequality dawns on Skeeter, an ambitious young college graduate, she begins a daring, secret quest to penetrate the protective circle of African American maids in her town. Soon, their longing for a voice in a world that completely marginalizes and oppresses them overcomes their fear and mistrust. The things they reveal about their lives, their employers, and the insidious network of revenge against any woman of color who dares to rebel against "the system" will reawaken horror and rage at the state of human rights in this region prior to 1964.


Take heart: the worst of winter is almost over. In another month, you might even see a spring bud or two!

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