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
June/July 2008

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:



Goofs and Glitches

Although technology marches on, there are still plenty of daily business transactions occurring the old-fashioned way, on paper. Perhaps this not-quite-paperless transition has left the door open for some Demons of Distraction:

  • Deborah has to follow the bureaucratic dictates of her health care provider after she gets the bill from a recent doctor visit. She separates the payment stub from the statement, requests a receipt, prepares a self-addressed stamped envelope for said receipt, records the check number, carefully slides everything into the payment envelope, stamps it, and mails it off. A week later, the doctor's office calls: she never actually wrote the payment check.
  • Frances, too, promises that "the check is in the mail" when she sends off an envelope to a consultant for services rendered — and fortunately, it is. However, the consultant also finds that instead of enclosing the payment stub from the invoice, Frances has accidentally tucked two of her credit card bills in with the check.
  • Ted, a homeowner, receives a telephone call from a complete stranger in a neighboring part of the city. This person had found a check issued by Ted blowing around in the leafy debris on his lawn, and was concerned enough to contact him about it. It turns out that Ted wrote the check as payment to a business person who, at some point, dropped her portfolio while walking outside. Unbeknownst to her, the check fluttered away in the wind! Luckily, it ended up in the hands of an honest fellow citizen.

Each of these "oops" moments turned out fine, but the consequences could have been more serious. Late or missing payments can cause fees and damage one's credit rating; sensitive financial information that falls into the hands of an unscrupulous party can lead to identity theft. Whether you are the one making payments using paper checks or the one collecting them, focus on your task and double-check to make sure that your business is transacted safely.

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


"It Worked for Me" - Kim's Story

Kim's Story: "I have a job that requires me to spend countless hours stuck at my desk. The only window faces a back-alley view of a concrete jungle. Everything I do is cognitive or verbal: lots of planning and organizing, emails, phone calls, meetings, research, and writing. I don't get much relief from working inside my physical or aesthetic stimulation. My salvation has been exercise, particularly swimming. I find myself getting really edgy if I go for more than a week without doing some laps. However, I recently had to stop swimming for a while due to some out-patient surgery.

Until I can get back in the pool, been relying on the other activity that makes me feel better: knitting. When I'm tense, jittery, and frantic from work pressures, even knitting a few rows sends a feeling of relaxation over my whole body. The repetitive hand motions are soothing; it's like getting a massage! I love the texture of the yarn fibers, the colors of the skeins, and the creativity of designing my projects.

Knitting has social benefits, too. Creating gifts for friends helps you feel close to them, like the prayer shawl I knitted for a breast cancer patient, or the wedding blanket I'm working on now for a young couple. You seem more accessible to other people when you're knitting. Strangers strike up conversations with you and the whole atmosphere becomes friendlier. An author I like, Perri Klass, has written about the ways knitting can help bind a woman to her community."

Think about the outlets that your job or required activities may not provide, and explore some hobbies, sports, or community organizations that will allow you to develop and showcase your other strengths!


Strategies for Success:

Reliance on email, voice mail, and texting may result in some people becoming rather rusty with "live" communication skills (see Work/Life Corner below). It can be difficult for certain family members or co-workers to remember that although 24/7 availability is possible, it is not necessarily a good thing! If you need to set some boundaries with people who don't realize that they are being intrusive or inconsiderate, consider Tips # 18 and #19 from Geri's booklet, Defeating the Demons of Distraction: 111 Ways To Increase Work/Life Performance and Decrease Stress: teach all those Others in your life how best to communicate with you. Indicate which are the best or worst times to call, text, instant message or visit instead of saying, "Call me (or drop by) anytime." For example, some working parents don't answer the phone during their kids' bath- and bedtime. Other people reserve time for themselves to get their day started at their desks by designating an hour as "do not disturb" and "electronic lockdown."


Student/Parent Corner

When we discuss the Demons of Distraction here at Managing Your Mind, we point out the ways in which distracted behavior can cost people time and money, or damage their relationships and hurt their career success. A recent ABC News "Good Morning America" report reminds parents that distractions in the car can actually cost teenagers their lives. Reporter David Kerley informs viewers that July and August are the most dangerous months of the year for teen drivers. American children are killed at a rate of 17 per day during this period. According to studies by auto insurance companies and transportation safety groups, auto accidents are the number one cause of teen deaths in America, and 87% of the 6000 yearly deaths are directly related to driving with distractions.

Cell phones/texting, iPods, food or beverages, and even adjusting the radio can cause young drivers to crash. The most dangerous distraction of all, however, is having friends in the car. Accident rates rise dramatically with the number of peers added to the car of a teen driver. Research shows that female friends distract with conversation, while male friends exert peer pressure on the driver to speed or attempt risky maneuvers. As a result, young women have more auto accidents in total, but the fatality rate is higher among young men. Experts recommend that parents draw up safe driving contracts with their teenagers, and insist upon the following ground rules:

  • Learn the safest way to adjust the seat, headrest, and all mirrors before starting the car.
  • Limit the number of friends a teen driver may have as passengers (no more than 2).
  • Everyone in the car must wear a safety belt at all times.
  • The teen driver must keep his/her hands in safe position on the steering wheel (9 o'clock and 3 o'clock) at all times.
  • No cell phone use while driving; no eating/drinking while driving.
  • Teen drivers should call their parents — and their parents should respond positively — whenever they feel that they can't drive safely due to fatigue, impairment, problems with passengers, or severe weather conditions.

For more information on keeping teen drivers safe, click here.


Work/Life Corner

Summer weather, special events, and poor economic conditions--these are often conditions that exacerbate irritability between you and those with whom you live or work. Let's face it: interpersonal conflict is not only time consuming and stressful, but has a negative impact upon productivity and creative thought. Sometimes, we even forget to treat those we love with the same courtesy and patience that we show to co-workers or perfect strangers.

Effective conflict management skills can make a significant difference in the quality of our work/life. When tempers rise, you can avoid having the situation spin out of control. Here are some conflict management tips, entitled Stop, Look, and Listen — then Act:

  • STOP: Take the pause that refreshes. Even a minute or two to look away and take a few deep breaths helps to defuse the emotionality of a negative situation. Tell yourself to adapt a problem-solving framework rather than shame and blame stance.
  • LOOK: Visualize the positives of your relationship or the previous positive behaviors of the other person. Create a mental image of the positive consequences of using a logical rather than an emotional response.
  • LISTEN: Lend an ear. Ensure that you face the person, listen to their message, and understand their feelings. Repeat what you think they have said and pause so they can respond or clarify.
  • ACT: Assume or accept responsibility for the unfortunate circumstance. Explain your position, building on the other's ideas. Ignore negatives or personal attacks and offer statements that encourage collaboration. For example, be honest. Say, "Each of us may feel awkward but we need to put our heads together for an issue like this." Say, "We seem to agree on these points but ..." Ask, "What would you like to happen next?"

Conflict is a natural part of human interaction. It should not be avoided at all costs but neither should it be a significant part of our daily experiences with others. Our job is to look for ways of cooperating and collaborating with those with whom we work and live. Pave the way for a peaceful summer: in some cases, conflict can be avoided by reviewing roles and responsibilities before special events or high stress times.


Featured Resources

Have you ever suspected that your online behavior is harming your relationships or career progress? Are you worried about someone you know who seems to be living in cyberspace instead of real life? In a May 11, 2008 feature, The Birmingham (MI) Eccentric newspaper profiled a recovering video game addict who is addressing a growing problem in today's logged-on society. Kevin Roberts describes his journey:

"I wasted years of my life staring into a computer screen and as a result, achieved none of my goals. I hid my gaming from everyone for almost ten years and refused to admit the problem to myself. In 2003, I hit bottom. I realized my life was out of control. I finally started dealing with my addiction. After I had stayed away from games for a few years, I began to help others do the same. Today I run support groups for people whose lives have been swallowed up by their insatiable urge to game. These groups supply the support addicted gamers need to stop their addiction, which empowers them to channel their energies in positive directions. I also offer one-on-one coaching. My background is in education, and for the last ten years I have been an academic coach, helping folks dealing with Attention Deficit Disorder succeed in school and life. I am the author of a forthcoming book, Video Game Junkie: Straight Talk from a Recovering Addict..

For more information on dealing with this issue, visit Kevin's website, He can be reached at or (248) 996-0180.



  • Geri was recently interviewed by Jim Allen, the Big Idea Coach, The interview will be available on the MYM web site by mid June.
  • It was standing room only at the University of Michigan back on September 19, 2007, when Geri presented "Defeating the Demons of Distraction" in recognition of National AD/HD Awareness Day! This program is now available to everyone in either audio or video form. In it, Geri describes distraction as a primary characteristic of adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. She discusses the 8 common demons and strategies to increase task completion, speed, and accuracy. Available as CD or DVD for $12.95 (+S/H) (or as a MP3 download for $10.00) from the Managing Your Mind website.
  • 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
  • Got a busy summer planned? Trying to achieve a better work/life balance? The tips and strategies to help you stay on track 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


Upcoming Conferences

  • Join one of the most comprehensive gatherings of experts in the field for four days of education on every aspect of AD/HD research and management! The ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association) 13th National Conference takes place in Minneapolis, MN on July 10-13, 2008. This year's theme is "Adult AD/HD: People, Purpose & Passion - Pathways for Success." Keynote speakers will be Sari Solden, Ned Hallowell, and John Ratey. For more information, visit the conference website


Reading: A Positive Distraction

Getting lost in a good book can be a wonderful distraction. Even fifteen minutes of reading time, curled up in your den or outside in the sunshine, can really be rejuvenating. Here are some favorites that Geri and her staff enjoyed recently:

Have you read something lately that really recharged your batteries? Share it with


Enjoy the Summer!

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