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 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

  • Shire ADHD Scholarship Program: this unique award includes a $2,000 monetary award plus one year of prepaid ADHD coaching services provided by the Edge Foundation to help students diagnosed with ADHD make the transition to college, vocational, or technical school. Twenty-five one-time scholarships will be awarded in 2011. The program is specifically designed for students in the United States diagnosed with ADHD who plan to pursue higher education. The program was developed and is being implemented by Shire, a global specialty biopharmaceutical company that focuses on helping people diagnosed with ADHD as well as other medical conditions. THE DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS IS JULY 7, 2011. For complete information on the scholarship program, including eligibility requirements and the application, visit

  • Ann Arbor area workshop: "Teens Using Drugs: What To Know and What To Do" is a FREE, ongoing, two-part series designed to help participants learn to understand, identify and address adolescent alcohol/other drug problems.

    Part 1 is presented on the first Tuesday of each month from October through June, and provides information on how to understand and recognize the signs of a teen substance abuse problem, and includes a short video.

    Part 2 is presented on the second Tuesday of each month from October through June, and provides information on what should and should not be done when a teen substance abuse problem is recognized, and concludes with an open talk by a teen speaker in recovery. The series is presented by Ronald E. Harrison, and is co-sponsored by Dawn Farm, the Livingston/Washtenaw Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Consortium, and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System Greenbrook Recovery Center. All workshops are free and open to all. The presentations are targeted primarily to parents and caretakers of teens, but are also inclusive of teens, family members, people who work with teens, students, and anyone interested in attending for any reason. Registration is not required. A certificate to document attendance can be provided on request. For information, please contact us at (734) 973-7892 or, or see

  • 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

Elise is up at 6 am and on the go for the next 12 hours. When she's finally ready to drive home, she kicks off her high heels as soon as she gets into the car. At the house, her husband and son suggest a meal at the Olive Garden. Picturing a great salad and no clean-up, she exclaims, "Let's go, I'm starving!" Her husband brings the car around and she jumps in. They cross town and eventually pull into the rain-soaked restaurant parking lot. She grabs her purse and feels around with her toes for her shoes to slip into. That when she realizes: her shoes are in the other car.

Her incredulous and hungry family goes ballistic. An additional drive home to retrieve the shoes is unthinkable as diners pour into the lobby to wait for tables. "You can't go in without shoes," they hiss. "How about this," Elise offers desperately, "Remember the fox and the grain and the river story? Well, what about the two of you going into the restaurant and getting a table? Then Connor takes Dad's shoes and comes and gets me. I'll wear them in." "No way am I gonna be seen with you clomping around in Dad's shoes," threatens her son. "No way am I sitting at a restaurant table in just my socks," her husband concurs. "Fine," she sighs. "You go in and get a table. I'll go to that store around the corner, Goods of the World." The guys head into the restaurant, grumbling about her absentmindedness.

Elise pads into the store with a dripping umbrella and bare feet. The greeter smiles sweetly and asks "What can we do for you today?" She points downward. He looks perplexed--it's hardly a shoe store. Then, inspiration strikes: "There's only one thing I have that might work," he offers. Five minutes later, she emerges from the store wearing a massive pair of men's batik bath scuffs. She pops open her umbrella and suddenly envisions herself as Gene Kelly, splashing through his famous scene in the movie, "Singing in the Rain." She waltzes triumphantly into the restaurant. Looks of mortification cross the faces of her husband and son as they spy her feet, but they are too hungry to protest. Dinner turns out to be delicious.

The lesson: beware of those hasty transitions, especially if you are already fatigued. Give yourself a few minutes to adjust and think when you move from one activity to another. The consequences weren't too serious in this case, but they could be: imagine if the situation involved a forgotten passport at the airport, for example!

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


Managing Your Academic Mind

After numerous presentations to students at the University of Michigan--including Rackham Graduate School, the Medical School and the School of Dentistry--it became apparent to Geri that students could really use a collection of short-but-savvy study tips. However, she knew that no young person would want to just read endless lists of advice all at once, thus the idea of "365 Secrets of Study Success: A Tip a Day Gets an A" was born. Geri refined and developed the project during sessions of "parallel play" with her productivity buddy, Chris Bidlack [see Late Summer 2010 MYM Newsletter: It Works for Me, and below]. Printed, e-book, and Twitter versions of the booklet will be available on the MYM website in Fall, 2011. In the meantime, since April-June are prime months for papers, projects, final exams and standardized testing, Geri will share five tips each month on topics such as reading, test preparation, and test-taking.

Tips for June:

  1. Test Taking: Arrive early so you can take time to calm down, organize your materials, and focus on the task.
  2. Test Taking: Count the number of questions and points to plan your time, pacing yourself by doing the easiest questions first.
  3. Test Taking: Read each test question carefully and completely before answering it. Circle keywords or phrases in possible choices.
  4. Test Taking: If you begin to panic, take a few deep breaths, stretch, and evoke a positive image, then go on to another question.
  5. Test Taking: On essay tests, convert the key question into several small questions and devote a paragraph to each one.


Life Management

It's time for proms, graduations, and summer fun: excitement, exhilaration, and perhaps, inattention due to cell phone use. Teens' risky habits can bring about devastating consequences. AAA of Michigan presents the following sobering statistics:

"Looking away from the road for two seconds doubles your chance of crashing. Distractions like cell phones kill some 6,000 drives each year in crashes. For every 10 mph over 50 mph you drive, your chance of death or serious injury doubles. Having a friend riding along increases a teen's chances of crashing. And kids can be four times more distracting than adults as passengers."

Parents can make the stats real for teens. For example,

  1. Have your teen close his or her eyes for two seconds and try to walk down a crowded street without having a collision.
  2. Have your teen sit with four audio devices playing at once--iPod, stereo/radio, CD player, and TV, for example--and ask him or her to focus on just one.
  3. Watch together the Reynolds family video at the link above. Discuss how everyone in the family will abide by the "on the road, off the phone" rules.

Consider using the AAA Parent-Teen Driving Agreement to set and enforce limits, and include the following:

  • Have an "ignition on/phone off" policy.
  • Place the phone in the trunk when the teen is driving.
  • Carefully limit the number of teens riding together when a teen is driving.

In this season of fun and frivolity, keep the teens safe!


Featured Resources

Chris Bidlack of Bidlack Creative Group sent us his refined day-at-a-glance planning card. As we wrote last month, Chris devised a form to schedule his day and stay on track while he attends meetings and develops marketing and design projects. He prefers a card that he can alter quickly and easily, and that fits into his shirt pocket for easy access. He writes all of his appointments in ink, but all of his tasks in pencil. Over time, he has found that being able to schedule in fifteen minute increments is more efficient for him than scheduling in half-hour segments.

Click here to try Chris' form. He chooses to use bright yellow because it represents the sun and therefore, energy. You can print the form on cardstock for better durability.

If you've devised forms to help you get and stay organized, remember that your first attempt may not yield all the results you hope for; here are some questions to help you learn how to improve your next iteration:

  • Did I allow enough time for my tasks/activities?
  • When I fell behind, at what point did things begin to deteriorate?
  • How did my monitoring form help or hinder my efforts to be productive?
  • What's lacking? Can I make it better?

If you'd like to share your lessons and successes, email MYM.



  • 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:

  • Left Neglected by Lisa Genova: the author is a neuroscientist whose previous book was about early-onset Alzheimers. This novel traces the personal and family struggles of a young mother who incurs a serious brain injury in an auto accident. Genova covers both the unique aspects of "Left Neglect" syndrome, and its similarities to other, more common brain disorders. Despite its serious topic, the narration manages to be funny as well as enlightening.
  • In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson. The author of The Devil in the White City has written a book about the US ambassador to Germany in 1933. The man in this unenviable position, William E. Dodd, became caught up in Hitler's frenzied march to WWII both professionally and personally, especially as his daughter was drawn into a social circle that included many of the most powerful leaders of the Nazi movement. Larson, who has been called the master of narrative nonfiction, tackles such questions as, "Didn't anyone see what happening during those early years?" and more pointedly, "Why didn't we listen to those who did?"


Congratulations to all June graduates and their families. Have a pleasant and safe 4th of July holiday!

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