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 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 presented a seminar on Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Strategies to Increase Productivity and Reduce Stress for the University of Michigan Human Resource Development program on Jan. 13, 2011. She will bring the same topic to the University of Michigan College of Engineering on Wed., Feb. 2, 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
  • Check out the conference at Lynn University, a liberal arts college in Boca Raton, Florida. It will host Transitions 2011: High School to Higher Education - Options for Students with Learning Differences, a conference for parents, principals and headmasters, psychologists, guidance counselors, special education teachers, educational consultants and students. The event, which will take place on January 28, 2011, will include an impressive roster of keynote, plenary and breakout session speakers, with presentations geared toward helping students with special needs find the right college "fit" and make a smooth transition to higher education. For more information, click here.


Goofs and Glitches

If bad things come in threes, one MYM staffer hopes that the Demons are finished having their way with her. It all began in the stress before a two-week holiday visit to family in December: she rushed to complete beautiful and expensive family photo calendars as gifts, only to discover when the packages were opened that she had attached those photos to 2010 calendar pages rather than 2011! Goof number two, which she sincerely hopes can be blamed on jet lag, occurred at a gas station, which the automatic pump requested that a "zip code" be punched in - and she could not remember what that was. The crowning glory in her "trifecta of distraction" occurred just as the post-trip illness descended upon her: the bank mailed her an updated ATM card, so she pulled the expired one from her wallet and left it on her desk to dispose of safely. Then she signed the new one, and set it on her desk so that the ink could dry. Guess which card she sent through the shredder? Thanks to her inattention, two separate bank employees enjoyed their best laugh of the day.

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


Managing Your Academic Mind

Families and educators have long recognized that children's leisure time activities can influence their academic success; this is one reason why many parents encourage their children to participate in music, sports, games, and hobbies after school or on weekends. Another important leisure activity is reading: any type of pleasure reading can reinforce the skills children need to succeed in school and beyond.

Older generations may fear that reading is becoming a dying art: recent statistics from the American Time Use Survey tell us that, "Individuals age 75 and over averaged 1.0 hour of reading per weekend day and 26-minutes playing games or using a computer for leisure. Conversely, individuals ages 15 to 19 read for an average of 5-minutes per weekend day while spending 1.0 hour playing games or using a computer for leisure." With so much competition from computers, handheld devices, gaming systems, and TV/DVD's, it can be a fight to get a child or teen to pick up a book.

Should parents merely accept this trend as a sign of the times? No, because it's neither healthy [see link] nor helpful for long-term success. There are many things that parents can and should do to encourage a balance between reading and other activities:

  • It is important for parents to help young people see reading in a broader context, not just as classroom or homework drudgery. Model and reinforce reading as leisure and fun, and as a means to learn about other fun things.
  • Recognize all types of reading as valuable; even the most reluctant reader might enjoy comics, sports magazines, graphic novels, mysteries or collections of jokes and riddles. Reading materials with product tie-ins can be incentives, too. In one family, for example, the parents encouraged their first grader to learn about the various American Girl dolls through their books before deciding which doll she would like to own. In another, an 11-year old boy who found reading "a drag" became enamored by the 39 Clues series of books (see link below). After working through the first book and its accompanying card pack of clues, he couldn't wait to discuss the problem-solving process with family members.
  • Revisit the pleasure of reading aloud to your child, as many parents did with the Harry Potter series. Most young readers are perfectly able to understand and enjoy complicated plots once the task of decoding vocabulary is removed. In a similar fashion, many students might be more willing to explore classic or contemporary literature if they can use audio books or podcasts.
  • Set goals with children: instead of one hour of computer games, make it 15 or 20 minutes pleasure reading first, then the remainder of the time can be spent online. Adults can use this strategy, too: promise yourself a few minutes of book time before you plop in front of the screen. Then you will avoid thinking, "I love reading, but I never get around to it."


Life Management

  • In most of the country, winter conditions have already been severe and relentless, with several months of rough weather yet to endure. The same could be said for economic conditions; individuals and social service agencies are still having a difficult time. Consider using your stay-indoors evenings or weekends to benefit everyone: spend some time (even half an hour is a good start) to sweep your home for cold-weather items that you no longer use. Have the kids outgrown their comforter patterns? Not camping in the woods much anymore? Warm blankets, sleeping bags, winter coats and woolly accessories in good condition could bring comfort to those in need. If warehouse stores have tempted you too often to overstock on paper goods or hygiene products, most shelters would be delighted to receive donations of shampoo, toothpaste, and the like. Nearly every area has options for both drop-off and pick-up of donated goods; contact organizations such as Purple Heart or the Salvation Army. You will feel doubly rewarded when you reduce the overwhelming burden of "too much stuff" at home while simultaneously helping others.
  • Have you wanted to say thank you to a military family for their sacrifice but didn't know how? The book I'm Already Home ... Again by Elaine Dumler has been written to help military families foster their resiliency and keep connected with their loved ones when they are separated by deployments. For a $14 donation, a copy will be sent directly to a military family, along with your personal message of Thanks. For details, visit


Featured Resources

  • Parents who are seeking specialized programs to help underachieving students become successful may be interested in contacting a learning specialist who has recently moved from San Francisco to Ann Arbor. Sara Levine, M.A., is an educational therapist who words with pre-K through high school students on a 1:1 or small-group basis. Sara received advanced training in numerous multi-sensory programs including: Making Math Real, Slingerland Multisensory Approach, Orton-Gillingham method, Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes (LiPS® and Nancibell® Visualizing and Verbalizing), and Handwriting Without Tears. She is located in the Lower Burns Park area and can be reached at 734 756 0665 or



  • 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 Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova: the author of The Historian has produced another absorbing read to curl up with this winter. The time-shifting plot involves a psychiatrist who tries to discover why his patient, a tortured artist, has vandalized a painting in the National Gallery. Kostova sketches fascinating characters and weaves generations of mysteries together into her latest work of art.
  • The 39 Clues series: mysteries for children ages 9-12. Do you know a reluctant young reader (see above)? Scholastic, Inc. has contracted 10 different authors to trace the fictional quest of two plucky orphans trying to win their family fortune. Tweens and early teens will enjoy humor, action, and adventure while learning historical facts and solving clues in each book. Scholastic also offers accompanying card packs for purchase, and a companion website with games and contests.


This is the month to turn intention to action: you can start small, but START!

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