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
March 2010

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:



New Office Space!

Geri will now be meeting clients at 304 1/2 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, beginning March 15, 2010. This new location will allow for small group instruction in taking college admissions tests and in advanced reading, study, and test taking skills. Small group seminars for adults in the workplace will also be provided this spring; topics will include time management and reducing distractibility at the office. Call (734) 761-6498) or email if you are interested in small group services.



  • Geri will be presenting the seminar Better Reading Skills Equal Higher Grades and Lower Stress at the University of Michigan, Rackham Graduate School, on March 19, 2010 at noon. Many graduate students discover that there is significantly more to read in their courses than they have the time for. In addition, the reading material is more difficult and requires complex thinking and processing of multiple sources of information. Unfortunately, most students receive little or no instruction in reading after elementary school. There are advanced reading and learning strategies that contribute to higher academic productivity and lower stress. This seminar presents advanced reading strategies to help process information faster, yielding greater comprehension and retention for test taking and paper writing.


Goofs and Glitches

Click the wrong keyboard button and pay the price: in honor of her darling granddaughter's first birthday, a doting grandma decides to order a custom photo calendar full of adorable pictures of the child and her family. The preview version is spectacular; the package is on its way! First, however, the charge appears on her credit card statement—and it, too, is spectacular: over $200, ten times more than she expected! Upon further investigation, she discovers that she accidentally ordered not one special calendar, but ELEVEN of them. Before she hit that "confirm order" key, she should have gone over the details more carefully. The "quantity" box already contained a default value of "1," so that when she typed another "1," the box read "11." Every website order form is different, so review each time to make sure that your order is correct. For now, Grandma is left to ask everyone she knows, "Wanna see some pictures of my grandchild??"

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


Strategies for Success

When you travel for work or pleasure, do you attempt to load up everything you own? Are you trying to hoist heavy bags onto your car's rooftop rack? Do you try to stuff two weeks worth of outfits into your carry-on to avoid airline baggage fees? According to spine surgeons, backpacks, handbags and/or carry-ons shouldn't weigh more than ten percent of a person's body weight (Goldstein, J., USA Today, p. 10, 2/10/09). Carrying heavy bags is physically tiring and may even cause injuries. Just because a duffle can fit in the overhead bin doesn't mean that you can lift it up there safely. Moreover, juggling a large and/or unwieldy quantity of equipment through security and keeping track of it in transit is stressful and distracting.

Do yourself a favor: set a goal to carry fewer, lighter bags. Investigate your destination online to check weather predictions and nearby shopping resources that might allow you to leave some things at home. Whenever possible, use luggage that can be wheeled or worn in supportive backpack-style—but don't overload it. Before you leave, familiarize yourself with the latest border-crossing requirements and TSA/airline safety regulations (here and here): visualize yourself dealing with each while handling your luggage and possessions. If driving across the border, for example, where will you safely keep your documentation so that it is at hand when you reach the immigration booth? If your car is pulled over for further inspection, can you reload it without leaving items behind? For air travel, picture yourself simultaneously trying to remove your shoes, switch on your electronic devices, and keep track of your clear, plastic baggie of medicine: can anything make this process simpler? Make sure that you attach luggage tags or address/email labels to all carry-on cases/major items, including diaper bags and electronic equipment—and the accompanying chargers for the latter. Travel is stressful: take at least some measures to prevent fatigue, injury, and distraction!


Student/Parent Corner

Parents and school personnel already have plenty of reasons to be worried about underage alcohol abuse, but the results of a new research study provide a frightening new one: permanent brain damage. As reported by Michelle Ruiz on AOL Health , children aged 12-14 who reported consuming multiple drinks, several weekends per month, evidenced irreversible nerve tissue damage in their still-developing brains. The University of California, San Diego study found that this damage affected information processing, attention, and memory. Ruiz interviewed neuroscientist Susan Tapert, the leader of the study, who quantifies the decrease in academic performance as ‘…10%...the difference between an A and a B.'

The fact that pre-teens are engaged in binge drinking is as upsetting as the fact that they are causing lifelong harm to their cognitive abilities. Unfortunately, the media, popular culture, and even parents who want to be "cool"—or who remember their own exploits—often send mixed messages to adolescents about alcohol use. A wink-wink tolerance of "youthful exuberance" in the teen years can lead to dire consequences when those students leave home and go off to college. Campus life creates the perfect storm of decreased supervision and discipline along with increased academic and social pressure; activities such as Greek life and athletics may revolve around binge drinking traditions during pledging and initiation. Students with AD/HD are particularly vulnerable to problems caused by partying. Parents report horror stories such as: a young woman, drunk and wandering around campus at 2 am without a winter coat "because there's nowhere to put them at the parties…"; a drunken young man found collapsed, vomiting, and incomprehensible by a cab driver; and numerous young people too intoxicated to keep their wits about them and ending up as victims of crimes like robbery or sexual assault. The outcomes—life-threatening hypothermia, ER treatment for alcohol poisoning, loss of property, being arrested—are not nearly as hilarious in real life as they are in the latest teen comedy film.

What can a parent do? Educate yourself about the toxic effects of alcohol on developing brains (see article above) and explain the dangers to your pre-teen or teenager in ways she or he can understand and relate to. Be firm and consistent with your messages about rules, values, and consequences in your family. Even after your child has left home to attend college, you have the right as a parent to:

  • ask for an accounting of how his or her funds are spent, including social expenses
  • require copies of transcripts sent home so you can monitor academic progress
  • require that your teen to spend an extra year in a supervised residence hall if he or she has not demonstrated the discipline and maturity needed to live in a sorority/fraternity house or off-campus rental situation.


Work/Life Corner

The scene is New York City. The young woman flouncing down the sidewalk in a short, black, Armani skirt is stunning: perfectly coiffed, impeccably made up, flawlessly accessorized. Her expensive leather attaché case and latest model Smartphone scream Tyra-Banks-meets-Ivanka-Trump success. Thumbs flying, eyes glued to the screen as she texts her way across Manhattan, she hardly notices the admiring and envious glances from her fellow pedestrians. Unfortunately, she doesn't notice where she's going, either. Wolf whistles turn to catcalls as she suddenly strides full force into the metal pole of a bus stop sign! Her failure to look up from her cell phone while walking lands her with an unwanted accessory: a black eye to match her beautiful outfit.

Accidents like hers are on the rise: Ohio State University has conducted one of the first ever studies of the dangers of distracted walking. In a recent New York Times article, Matt Richel defines the phenomenon as any situation combining a pedestrian, an electronic device, and an unnoticed obstacle. People texting, having cell phone conversations or using applications on a handheld device are vulnerable to tripping over household items, stumbling into pavement cracks, gaps or potholes, bumping into both moving and stationery objects, and falling off of steps or curbs. Emergency room visits caused by distracted walking doubled each year from 2006 through 2008. Researchers theorize that electronic devices tax the brain in unique ways—and that this negatively affects our ability to multitask even when we aren't driving. Read Richel's article and take action to keep yourself safe when you're walking around on that iPhone or Blackberry!



  • 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 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 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 has now been 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 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 Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow: when Zaslow, a Wall Street Journal columnist, decided to explore the nature of long-term, female friendships, he discovered a unique group of Iowa women who had remained tightly bonded for over thirty years. Tracing the individual and collective lives of 11 girls born in 1963, Zaslow documents the joys, frustrations, and richness of the relationships that sustain and define these women.
  • A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick: a surprising mixture of historical fiction, lurid romance, and psychological thriller… A lonely bachelor in the wilds of turn-of-the-century Wisconsin advertises for a mail-order bride, and neither party in the transaction gets what they bargained for. Goolrick creates fascinating characters, shocking plot twists, and a completely absorbing winter's tale.


Happy St. Patrick's Day! Be thankful for the good luck you've enjoyed—even if you're not Irish!

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