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
- Strategies for Success
- Student/Parent Corner
- Work/Life Corner
- Reading - A Positive Distraction
New Office Space!
Geri will now be 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 new location will allow for small group instruction in:
- Summer 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 for Finals, How to Organize and Write Final Papers).
- For adults in the workplace: Time Management and Reducing Distractibility at the Office.
Call (734) 761-6498) or email email@example.com if you are interested in small group services.
- Upcoming: Geri will be the featured speaker at Child Psychiatry Grand Rounds at the Wayne State University Medical School on May 11, 12:30 pm in the Children's Hospital auditorium. Her presentation to faculty, staff, and trainees of the Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University units of Pediatrics and Psychology will cover AD/HD topics. Members of the public may also attend.
- Event Report: two sessions of College Night were recently held in Ann Arbor, the first at Pioneer High School and the second at the Traverwood branch of the Ann Arbor District Library. Many happy families left these events with copies of 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. and the 3 CD set, Parent's Guide to the SAT and ACT: Practical Advice to Help You and Your Teen (audio v.) by Linda Bizer, Ph.D. and Geraldine Markel, Ph.D. To order these materials for your family, click here.
Goofs and Glitches
"Techies" and early adopters may be able to get their hands on the latest electronic gadgets (iPad, anyone?), but most workplaces continue to rely on older technology such as voicemail systems for business communication. Jaded employees may forget that recording and sending voice messages requires both business etiquette and concentration.
At a large software company, for example, Manager Chris at the satellite office emailed a question to Manager Travis at the home office. Travis, in a meeting room with a bunch of programmers, quickly recorded his answer on Chris' voicemail and turned his attention back to his co-workers. In his haste, however, Travis didn't actually exit the voicemail program or hang up to end the call. His phone continued to record for ten minutes more--while he ranted to his colleagues about his dislike of Chris and lack of respect for Chris' technical and leadership abilities. When Chris picked up the voicemail message, he was stunned and devastated to hear this litany of personal and professional insults, complete with the derisive laughter of other personnel in the background. Needless to say, the incident had a chilling effect on team-building, morale, and productivity efforts within the company. Don't let a moment of distraction destroy your professional relationships: focus carefully on both the message and method when conducting business communication.
Funny or inconvenient, let's share our experiences. If you have one to share, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Strategies for Success
With final exams just around the corner, Geri shares a few study tips from her collection, Secrets of Study Success: a Tip a Day Gets an A:
- Time management: Get into a pattern or routine. For example, begin to study every day at 7 PM. Use a timer/alarm to help stay on a study schedule.
- Stress: Take short breaks and exercise. Use a jump rope or climb up and down the stairs.
- Wellness: Balance physical and mental tasks; during a short study break, pack a lunch or vacuum.
- Life Skills: Alternate working alone and working with a group.
- Reading: Turn the bold titles of the chapter into questions. Answer by writing notes in the margin. Focus on main ideas, then on facts.
- Reading: Take 3 to 5-minutes per 30 minutes to summarize out loud the main ideas that you have learned.
- Lectures/Review: Study a little each day and review the previous day's learning before beginning a new topic.
- Memory: Use a variety of visual aids when memorizing: first say the main idea or facts out loud, then sketch a diagram or write a summary.
- Test Preparation: Create practice tests with true/false; fill in, and multiple-choice questions covering each lecture or text chapter.
- Test Preparation: Test yourself by writing summaries, facts, examples or diagrams without looking at notes or text.
As reported in the New York Times ("If Your Kids Are Awake, They're Probably Online," January 20, 2010), a Kaiser Family Foundation study estimates that American children aged 8-18 now spend nine and half hours of their day using electronic devices such as computers, smart phones, and music players (often more than one at the same time).This includes time spent talking on the phone and texting. The researchers found that the heaviest users of electronic media had lower grades and reported less satisfaction with their lives, but they could not say if one factor caused another. Children spent somewhat less time using electronic media in homes where usage rules are enforced. NYT reporter Tamar Lewin quotes a physician who makes the following provocative statement:
Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital Boston who directs the Center on Media and Child Health, said that with media use so ubiquitous, it was time to stop arguing over whether it was good or bad and accept it as part of children's environment," like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat."
Has your family ever assessed its usage of electronic media? How many hours per day do the children in your household actually spend online or using these devices? Does this usage interfere with other activities such as mealtimes, exercise, study hours, or face-to-face interaction? Perhaps it's time for a family discussion about priorities and values. What do you think of Dr. Rich's assertion? Should parents try to limit their children's media time, or just accept a new reality?
As concern grows about the effects of distraction (technology-induced and other types) on driving safety, researchers have turned their attention to a particularly vulnerable portion of the driving public: drivers with AD/HD. A team from the University of Kentucky examined the ways in which AD/HD characteristics affected performance during a driving simulator exercise. As the researchers note, drivers generally need the ability to sustain attention for long periods, to control impulsive behavior, and to plan and execute tricky driving maneuvers—all of which can be difficult for adolescents and adults with AD/HD. Their results indicated that:
- Those drivers, when not on AD/HD medication, swerved in their lanes and made jerky steering movements in a manner similar to alcohol-intoxicated drivers who do not have AD/HD.
- These driving behaviors worsened significantly when the drivers with AD/HD were also given alcohol—despite the fact that these subjects did not perceive themselves to be further impaired.
These findings are particularly sobering in this season of high school and college graduation celebrations, as well as summer vacation road trips. While more research needs to be done, recommendations include:
- Individuals with AD/HD who take medication on an "as needed" basis may want to consider using their medication for driving tasks.
- Individuals with AD/HD should be aware that their driving performance is more impaired by alcohol than they perceive, and that their impairment may occur with even smaller amounts of alcohol than they expect.
To learn more about the relationship between driving and dealing with AD/HD, read "Driving Under the Influence of ADHD: Research and Policy Implications" by Jessica Weager, Richard Milich, and Mark T. Fillmore.
Kudos to Jane Heineken! Jane is the valued resource who helps prepare this newsletter. We have lots of laughs and she's the one who often provides the wit and humor to the text. Too frequently, we neglect to tell those with whom we work about how much they contribute to our lives. When working with Jane, my days are brightened and my productivity is enhanced. Thank you, Jane, and all the best from Geri.
- 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 (www.skype.com); for information about iChat, search www.apple.com 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, www.iuniverse.com, from www.Amazon.com, and from www.managingyourmind.com. 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 www.managingyourmind.com.
- 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.
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 Amazon.com 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 Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Reg Keeland, translator): this thriller is the first of a trilogy by Larsson, a Swedish magazine editor who died suddenly after completing the manuscripts. The protagonist is a down-on-his-luck journalist investigating an old missing person case with the assistance of a very unusual computer whiz. The two uncover the ugly secrets of a prominent family that has abused its wealth and power in dangerous ways. The absorbing plot and fascinating characters will soon appear in a feature film, as well.
- The Emperor's General by James Webb: this historical novel provides insight into the United States' post-WWII occupation of Japan. Webb uses the character Jay Marsh, a fictional aide-de-camp, to explore General Douglas MacArthur's controversial actions as he attempted to dismantle the Japanese imperial regime and replace it with a modern, democratic system of government. Was MacArthur an ingenious diplomat or a scheming appeaser? Who were the ultimate winners and losers in this geopolitical game? Webb paints a fascinating picture of the clash between ancient, feudal traditions and a devastated nation in need of reconstruction and reform.
As Memorial Day approaches, take time to remember and honor the brave sacrifices of America's military heroes, past and present.
Feel free to forward this newsletter to someone else who might be interested.