Managing Your Mind
3975 Waldenwood • Ann Arbor, MI 48105 • tel/fax (734)761-6498 •
Geri Markel
Managing Your Mind Newsletter
March 2007

Welcome to the March, 2007 edition of the Managing Your Mind Newsletter. The goal of this communication is to help you manage your mind and enhance your work, life, and/or school performance.

During the middle part of each month, you will receive this brief, but practical, communication providing announcements, tips, stories, and resources. The format change based on your feedback and input. Feel free to contact me with your questions, concerns, and suggestions.

You'll find the following sections in this issue:



"It Worked For Me"

Barbara's Story: "Eighteen months ago, I was both a graduate student and a woman in the throes of divorce. I felt overwhelmed with the many new tasks and responsibilities that I had to take on in addition to my studies. My head was full of budgets, financial planning, insurance policies, and other new commitments. I made lists and lost them; I wrote out calendars and ripped them up; in general, I was feeling unable and unprepared to move on. In fact, instead of getting more action oriented, I was becoming paralyzed. The situation was bleeding into my course work: my writing became disorganized and my assignments were late. I was told by a counselor to contact Geri to help me with time management and organization. With Geri's help, I identified my main areas of concern regarding my schoolwork and some of my personal responsibilities. One thing that worked for me was The Grid. This is a grid of nine or twelve sections, drawn on a large Post-it® adhesive pad or sheet of newsprint, taped to a prominent location at home. I put mine on the door by my kitchen. The Grid was far less intimidating than a long to-do list. The large dimensions allowed me to see the big picture but at the same time, gave a basic structure to everything I needed to accomplish. It was the mental equivalent of sorting household clutter into different bins. I adjusted it to my personal style by color-coding and using sticky notes to add or remove items. I kept that thing up for six months, and it helped me finish my courses on time and begin to tackle the other responsibilities in my life." Here's an example of a grid similar to Barbara's:

Public Policy Course Update will Talk to financial planner
Review insurance policies-health, homeowners, auto Job resume Independent Study Course
Schedule medical and dental appointments Find lawyer, file papers, research options Go to advising office about graduation requirements

If you've used a tip from a Managing Your Mind book or seminar or you've come up with one of your own, please share with me by calling (734) 761-6498 or emailing


Goofs and Glitches

Even here at Managing Your Mind, Coaching & Seminars, the Demons of Distraction can sneak up on us. MYM Assistant Jane was recently up late doing research when she emailed some questions to Geri, who was also burning the midnight oil. "Why are you still working on this? You should be in bed!" admonished the boss. "It's driving me crazy, I can't stop!" Jane typed back. "I have a severe case of Unruly Mind Hyper focus!" Ten minutes later, a new email flashed across Jane's screen. In huge, red letters, Geri typed, "STOP NOW." This unequivocal signal to end her work session was amusing as well as effective!

Let's laugh together about our experiences. If you have one to share, send it to


Strategies for Success:

If you're like most people, the mere mention of the April 15 income tax deadline brings on an attack by the Tasks/Activities Demon! If you've been procrastinating and feeling overwhelmed, you might consider following Tips #33 and #34 from my booklet, Defeating the Demons of Distraction: 111 Ways To Increase Work/Life Performance and Decrease Stress. Break complex tasks into smaller "doable" segments. For example, deal with one tax category at a time, such as travel or home repair. This narrows your focus, provides a greater sense of control, and increases accuracy and completeness. Schedule regular 5 to 10 minute breaks every 40 to 60 minutes when you work on your forms. Doing this gives you the mental rest and rejuvenation needed for sustained attention and retention.


Student Corner:

Millions of students will soon be taking the ACT and SAT. Although there are lots of courses and resources explaining test strategies, too little is mentioned about test stress. For example, one student comments: "I really get nervous about test-taking. How can I calm myself down to improve my scores?" Another says, "I rush through the test when I get nervous, and make more errors than I should." To address this problem, Geri recently presented "Taming the Test Stress Tiger" at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Here are a few of the strategies that work at both the high school and college level:

  • Establish a two to three minute warm-up routine that includes deep breathing and tensing and flexing muscles.
  • Visualize yourself having a successful academic experience.
  • Write helpful hints to yourself on the test booklet before the test, such as "Take your time," or "Take a break."
  • During the test, take brief (one minute) rests every fifteen to twenty minutes to help you refresh and refocus.
  • Work on easier problems first to increase your confidence.
  • Give yourself positive messages when you are challenged, such as, "I practiced this; I need to think and take my time."


Parent Corner:

Many parents with high school students worry that their teens will not make a successful transition to college life. In fact, many of their worries are justified, especially if the teen has ADHD, Aspergers, and/or learning disabilities. For example, many students have good intentions and sign up for a host of challenging courses beginning early in the morning--despite the fact that they have sleep/waking problems. They end up missing class, falling behind, dropping courses, and in some cases, flunking courses. Some have difficulty managing independent living responsibilities on top of their course work, such as getting their laundry done or managing their money. A first step is to focus on independent living skills during their junior and senior years in high school. Parents can also introduce their child to college gradually by having them start one course during the quieter summer term. For college freshman who have not demonstrated independence and sound judgment, parents should explore some new programs that provide more comprehensive support within the regular college setting. One such program is called College Living Experience ( It is currently available in Austin, Ft. Lauderdale, and Denver. CLE provides academic support, independent living skills, and social skills training. General information about the transition to post secondary education for students with ADHD can be found in Chapter 12 of Greenbaum and Markel's Helping Adolescents with ADHD & Learning Disabilities, available through Another resource is the Association on Higher Education And Disability,


Featured Resources

If you or a member of your family have difficulty jumping out of bed on those cold, dark, winter mornings—and you've tried the usual tricks like moving your alarm clock across the room—maybe you need the Sonic Boom Alarm Clock, designed by HARC Mercantile, Ltd. at This device will help you wake up to any combination of loud, pulsating audio alarm, flashing lights, or shaking bed. It sells for $74. This may negate the necessity of family members screaming, dumping cold water, or stripping away cozy blankets!



A new product is now available! Mem-Cards for Defeating the Demons of Distraction. This pack of 28 fast-reading, pocket -sized cards provides a personal coaching tool that can be used by individuals or in corporate training. Each deck contains the key ideas and important insights from Geri's booklet, Defeating the Demons of Distraction: 111 Ways to Increase Work/Life Performance and Decrease Stress. In just minutes a day, you'll get everything you need to know to improve your life. Available at $9.95 each, with significant discounts available for large quantity orders from

MYM cards


Upcoming Events in March:

Geri will be speaking at National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), Southeast Michigan Chapter on March 28, 2007. NAPO supports professional organizers and the organizing industry, which enhances the lives of clients by designing systems and processes using organizing principles and through transferring organizing skills. For those people who need help setting up a system that allows them to take control of their papers, supplies, time, etc., a visit from a NAPO professional organizer can open the door to greater success. Geri will be discussing Finding Your Focus: 6 Tools for Dealing with the Chronic Disorganization and Distractibility of Adults with ADD.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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