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
January 2009

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:



Goofs and Glitches

Bill and his companions are engaging in teasing banter and hearty laughter while having drinks and dinner. The egg rolls and fried wontons are delicious, but of course, rather greasy. Reveling in the food, friends, and fun, Bill grabs at a cloth napkin and wipes his mouth with gusto. When his friends suddenly whoop and point, he realizes that he's used his new, designer, silk tie as his napkin. Oops!

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


Strategies for Success:

The vast reaches of the World Wide Web provide many conveniences such as shopping, managing accounts, belonging to organizations, and conducting business. However, nearly all of these activities require users to register with log-in or account names and passwords. While it's tempting to use the same simple, easy-to-remember password for every account, Web security experts warn against this because it can lead to identity theft. As you accumulate more and more online accounts, it becomes unlikely that you will remember all of your log-in information in your head. A more serious scenario arises when some one is incapacitated or dies, and loved ones need to gain access to his or her computer and online accounts. Consider Tip #14 from Geri's booklet, Defeating the Demons of Distraction: 111 Ways To Increase Work/Life Performance and Decrease Stress: "maintain a hard copy or an address book listing your login or user name and password for various organizations, publications, or stores." This hard copy or data file should be stored securely at home (with backups in another location in case of fire), but also make sure that a trusted friend or relative knows how to access it if needed - this may prevent a lot of hassles at an already stressful time.


"It Worked for Me" - Bert's Story

Bert changed careers and now works from home in sales. This is the first time he has worked in such an unstructured situation. While he enjoys some aspects of the job, he hates one of his primary tasks: making the dreaded cold call. These two factors have led to the problem of procrastination. He has a tendency to delay getting down to work or to end his work sessions early; on some days, he puts in less than four hours, while on others, he avoids working completely. On one particularly bad day, Bert spent almost three hours playing Solitaire on the Internet. He has begun to work with a coach to get on track and move forward. Since Bert is a mathematically oriented guy, the idea of graphing the number of hours he works each day appealed to him. The graph provides information that helps him maintain his helpful work-related behaviors while recognizing and changing the counterproductive ones. It's still not easy, but he has made progress and feels more in control of his productivity. Even in these discouraging economic times, Bert is optimistic about his own prospects. What worked for Bert is finding a way to monitor his performance using numbers and graphs; what about you? Is there a way you can make a chart or checklist to keep yourself on track at work or home?



Student/Parent Corner

No matter how self-directed - or secretive - your teen may be during the college admissions process, parents need to stay involved and monitor each crucial step along the way. Here's a tale from a father and mother who assumed that all was well. When their son received word about his application to his first-choice university, they were fully expecting good news. After all, he was an extremely bright young man, attending an exclusive, college-preparatory secondary school. Imagine their surprise and dismay when the teen was informed that his acceptance to this major Midwestern research university was deferred. What was the problem?

The counseling office at the student's school had dropped the ball in several areas. First, the school counselor failed to present their son with a wide enough array of schools to which he might apply, leaving him with too few options. Next, although their son turned in all of his materials to the counseling office in plenty of time, the school was late in sending his packet to the university - and the packet was incomplete, lacking the counselor's recommendation letter. Finally, the counselor recommendation letter that eventually arrived at the institution was positive, but it did not paint a full picture of the student's significant contributions to the community. This was particularly crucial because it would have offset a grade point average on the lower - rather than higher - end of the acceptable range.

The parents had assumed that at an elite private school, their son would be accurately guided to complete an optimal application. Many parents may also feel intimidated or doubt their instincts when dealing with school professionals who are supposed to have all the expertise. What can parents do to better support their child during the college application process?

  • Act as a member of a team with a shared purpose: to optimize your child's chances of getting accepted to at least a couple of colleges that would suit him or her well. Remember that although high school seniors are nearly of age, they still need parental support. If children are busy doing all that is expected of them at this stage (such as ACT/SAT exams, school courses and tests, varsity sports, advanced music groups, and/or after-school employment), of course they could use some help from you during the stressful period of completing their applications.
  • Visit the websites of schools to which your child is applying; most include specific application information. Telephone or email the college admissions office if you have any questions. Browse libraries and major bookstores to review books on getting into college.
  • Ensure that your teen includes at least one recommendation from a source outside of school counselors or teachers. According to high school counselor and college admissions expert John Boshoven, "A letter of recommendation demonstrating a different area of your life away from school can also help admissions officers get to know another part of you - a part they are also interested in." Review the applications with your student before he or she submits them.
  • Don't assume that the school is "taking care of it." Regardless of the school your child attends, you need to monitor the process so that your child is in a competitive position. Be assertive with the school and go over checklists of needed materials with counseling personnel.

For a general guide to the college admissions process, email Geri to order College Admissions: From Chaos to Control by John Boshoven, M.A., M.S.W., Debbie E. Merion, M.S.W., and Geraldine Markel, Ph.D. $12.95, digital download $10.00. For specific concerns about standardized college admissions tests, click here to order Audio CD Set: Parent's Guide to the SAT and ACT: Practical Advice to Help You and Your Teen By Linda Bizer, Ph.D. and Geraldine Markel, Ph.D.


Coaches Corner

Michigan coaches may be interested in joining Geri as members of the Professional Coaches Association of Michigan. PCAM was organized in 2004 to serve the broad spectrum of coaches who live and work in Michigan, and to work for the advancement of professional coaching. PCAM's state conference was held in Lansing in September, and there are monthly coaching cafes for collaboration and networking held in Lansing, Kalamazoo, Detroit, and Ann Arbor. For more information about PCAM, call (248) 320-6637 or visit their website. In the Ann Arbor area, interested coaches are invited to attend the third Friday of the month, 9:00 am, at Panera Bread, 3205 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor. Contact Julie Kassalow Norris for more info, (734) 332-7871.



  • Want to make sure that those New Year's resolutions turn from intention to action? Give the life-changing gift of professional coaching to yourself or to others: help your child or grandchild deal with the tyranny of standardized testing, or obtain the support you or your significant other need to achieve big dreams! It's easy to get off track when confronted by the enormous changes and challenges of 2009; even one or two sessions per month can ensure that you move forward despite winter and economic gloom. Geri is offering a New Year's Resolution Special Rate of 20% off coaching sessions booked before March, 2009. Simply mention this newsletter item when you contact her, tel. (734) 761-6498.
  • New book! Three experts provide their best college admissions advice in the latest publication from Managing Your Mind: College Admissions: From Chaos to Control 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 from the authors, email for more information at,, or $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 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
  • 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


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 we sometimes feature. If you have a favorite recipe, feel free to send it in to be shared. Here's one you may enjoy.

Recipe: Beef Brisket

Here is a hearty winter meal for your family.

  • 5 lbs. flat cut beef brisket
  • 3 tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 c. bottled chili sauce
  • 3/4 c. plain white vinegar
  • 3 tsp. Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 packet Lipton Dried Onion Soup mix
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • Carrots to roast with the meat
  • Potatoes to roast with the meat

Season the meat with the Lawry's Seasoned Salt and black pepper. Place the meat in a roaster pan. Mix the brown sugar, chili sauce, and white vinegar in a separate bowl, then pour over the meat. Place the chopped onions on the meat. Sprinkle the dried onion soup mix over the meat. Cover the roaster pan and refrigerate, allowing the meat to marinate overnight.

The following day, cook the roaster pan at 325. F for three hours. Add potatoes and carrots to the roaster pan and cook for an additional hour. Allow the meat to cool, then remove it from the roaster pan and cut it on the diagonal. Place the slices in a large serving pan or deep platter. Ladle the pan juices onto the meat and arrange the roasted vegetables. Serve warm. Can be covered and warmed in the oven if needed.

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


Remember your vow to be healthy and fit in 2009 - keep exercising! It's the best antidote for the winter blues.

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