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 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. 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 is offering "Acing the ACT/SAT, Spring 2011" test preparation sessions for April-June test dates. Topics include: Time Management/Organization, Test Preparation/Study, Reading Section, Writing Section, and Test Stress. Two- and four- part sessions are available. For more information, click here.
  • Take the opportunity to see Geri and her co-authors (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.) at The College and Career Fair, Wed., March 30, 2011, 6-8pm, Pioneer High School, Ann Arbor, MI. Autographed copies of the book will be available for purchase. The Fair provides students with information about career choices, internships, and employment opportunities, as well as college information.
  • Geri will be presenting Study Skills and Time Management for Engineering Students at the University of Michigan College of Engineering (north campus) on March 31, 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
  • Geri thoroughly enjoyed her recent presentation on "Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction" to staff at the University of Michigan, College of Engineering. Here she is with Rachael Long after the seminar in the beautiful Robert H. Lurie Engineering Center. If you're making a campus visit to UM, check out the amazing art and architecture in this North Campus complex on Beal St. Famous alumni include a co-founder of Google and the crew members who flew the first Apollo space mission. 


Goofs and Glitches

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to escape from your distractions, they follow you around. Seventeen year old Rory was experiencing her first true life disappointment: she had just been notified that her beloved summer camp had declined to hire her as a counselor. Sad thoughts swirled in her mind; she had been banished from the Paradise of her childhood. Eager to find comfort, she borrowed the car and spent the evening being pouring out her troubles in her friend's basement. When she returned home late that night, still stewing, she took the usual sharp turn to squeeze the car into the garage bay - and promptly smashed the rear tire well into the opening!

Typical teenage flightiness, you say? Then explain Luda's goof: this grandmother with a spotless driving record got into a heated argument with her husband. No amount of debate or yelling could resolve the issue, so Luda stomped out of the house in frustration. "I'll just run out and grab a coffee while we have a cooling off period," she thought, "It'll all work out later." Unfortunately, Luda merely traded one bone of contention for another. In the heat of her anger, she backed the car right into the garage wall, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to both vehicle and home. Driving may seem effortless or instinctive, but in fact it is a complex mental and physical task that requires our full attention at all times. Strong emotions can affect our mental acuity much like medications, controlled substances or using electronic devices while driving. Take note of your emotional state when you plan to get behind the wheel; use extra care or postpone driving until you can focus on the road (or driveway!).

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


Managing Your Academic Mind

Nearly everyone has gotten nervous before a big test or exam. These days, with so much riding on grade point averages and college admissions testing, students may experience full blown test anxiety, a condition that can actually hamper their performance. In some test preparation courses and academic coaching sessions, students have been informally urged to list their concerns about testing as part of a general test-stress reduction strategy. The value of this practice has recently been confirmed in experiments conducted by University of Chicago psychologists Gerardo Ramirez and Sian Beilock.

Specifically, their studies showed that apprehensive high school students who spent 10 minutes listing their test-related fears before final exams ended up scoring as well as students who did not report any such anxiety. Test-anxious students who did not write out their concerns scored lower on the same exams. Similar results were reported for college students in a companion study. If you are facing a high stakes test such as the ACT, SAT, AP, GRE or a professional licensing exam, consider taking some time in the weeks before the event to journal about your anxious feelings. Try to determine exactly what worries you: lack of preparation, fear of failure, the formality or length of the process, or other factors. Perhaps you'll see that your fears are unwarranted, or perhaps you'll want to seek assistance to deal with any issues. Then you can face your exam with your mind as sharp as your No. 2 pencils!


Life Management

"You take your spouse and two children out to dinner at a fine restaurant. One child can't find anything on the menu he likes. The other spills milk on the table and himself. Both eat little of their dinners and complain that the food is too cold. They begin to wiggle. You are only one thought away from finding the peace and the calm that will help you deal with the situation productively."

So begins a powerful article by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller, co-authors of "The Ten Commitments: Parenting with Purpose," and bloggers, Parenting brings some of life's greatest joys, but also some of its biggest stresses. Every time you face a difficult situation involving your children, your emotional baggage may come into play and negatively influence your reactions. Parents who were poorly parented themselves, who feel judged by other parents or who are not familiar with the normal stages of child development may have trouble controlling their frustration or keeping the situation in perspective. Life circumstances such as fatigue, illness, divorce, and economic hardship may also cause you to overreact. Here are a few of the mantras they recommend to reframe your attitude and allow for calm, positive parenting. To read the rest of their suggestions, click here.

  • This too shall pass.
  • These children are much more than their behavior.
  • I can treat disrespect respectfully.
  • This is not about me, but rather about them.
  • This is age-appropriate behavior for 6 year olds (10 year olds or teenagers) so I won't take it personally.
  • Mistakes, theirs or mine, are opportunities for growth.


Featured Resources

Note-taking is one of the key skills needed to succeed in both academics and the workplace. Many people have come to rely on their computers, PDAs or smartphones to capture information, but studies indicate that the physical act of putting pen to paper helps the brain to better assimilate new information. One of Geri's students raves about a product that capitalizes on two learning modes at once: the sensory-motor process of writing notes, and the aural reinforcement of listening to recorded information. The Livescribe Echo Smartpen records everything the user writes, draws, and hears; later, one can tap the pen on text or diagrams in his or her notes, and the pen will replay the accompanying audio. Visit to learn more about this product, which can be ordered from the Livescribe online store or from It is also found on the shelves of many area stores.



  • 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


Cooking: A Positive Distraction

Cooking can be a positive and creative distraction. If you are one of the many people who find that cooking is relaxing, you may enjoy the recipes that we sometimes feature. If you have a favorite recipe, feel free to send it in to be shared. Here's one you may enjoy.

Recipe: Linguine with Clam Sauce

A recent New York Times snippet on the quest for the perfect linguine with clam sauce brought to mind Geri's favorite version. The key is to have fresh, hard shell clams. Here is a recipe that serves 4-6.


  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 cup clam broth, fresh from the shucked clams (below) or bottled
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6-8 quarts of water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 2 tablespoons soft butter or olive oil
  • 3 dozen small hard shell clams
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, preferably the flat-leaf Italian type
  • oregano, salt, white pepper


Cook one pound of linguini al dente in boiling, salted water. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl, tossing with the butter or with olive oil.

In a heavy 12" skillet, heat the garlic in 6 tbs. of olive oil for about 30 seconds. Pour in the clam broth and wine, heat on high for two minutes. Then add the clams, turning them constantly for 1-2 minutes, until they all open. (Do not use unopened clams.) Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Pour over linguini.

Take a photo of your creation and share your success: mail photos and comments to


Welcome back to the robins and crocuses - the smell of spring is finally in the air!

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