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
May 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

  • 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.
  • 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

Jim is already late for a meeting with his attorney when a parking spot suddenly opens up along the busy street. He maneuvers into it, juggles his things to dig up coins to feed the meter, then grabs his attache case and hightails it into the office building. As the appointment ends, he searches his pockets to find his car keys--but they're not there. "Oh no, " he begins to berate himself, "You could not have locked the keys in the car again..." He sprints back to the parking spot and peers into the driver side window, bracing himself for the sickening sight of his key ring dangling from the ignition. But the ignition is empty; so are the seats. Now what?! His eyes sweep upward, looking for some sort of for Divine intervention, just as a light drizzle begins to fall from a darkening sky. His umbrella is, of course, in the car. Then his eye is caught by something on the windshield. "Oh great, a ticket! Could this day get any worse?" Uttering a few choice expletives, he grabs the piece of paper. But wait, it's not a ticket, it's this handwritten note:


Rescued from the consequences of distraction by Good Samaritans! 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 May:

  1. Test Preparation: Impose a total "electronic lockdown" when studying for tests: no phone, Internet, television, iPod, etc.
  2. Test Preparation: Review the results of past tests to identify your error pattern. For example, do you always miss those "Except" items?
  3. Test Preparation: Limit to 20-minute periods your efforts to memorize tedious facts and formulae so you will stay alert and effective.
  4. Test Preparation: Test yourself by writing summaries, facts, examples or diagrams without looking at your notes or text.
  5. Test Preparation: Don't forget to get enough sleep before tests. Fatigue leads to poor focus and memory.


Life Management

In a recent Demons of Distraction Blog entry, Geri tackled the issue of "too much stuff" and how to get started on some spring cleaning. For many people, however, the heart of the problem is why they cling to stuff, and why they have so much trouble letting go of it. If you are resisting suggestions to throw out or donate an overflow of items in your home, perhaps it would help to examine some of the feelings attached to these objects. In some cases, you might find that your old assumptions are no longer valid or that you are ready to move on emotionally, which would allow you to free yourself from some of the clutter. Here are some issues worth considering:

  1. Money: we've all made some impulsive or poor purchase decisions. Some people hang on to merchandise because of the guilt they feel over money ill-spent. Unfortunately, once the money is gone, it's gone. You can try eBay or a consignment shop, but be prepared to just donate, take the charitable deduction, and move on. Work to do better in the future: focus your energy on budgeting, not guilt.
  2. Gifts: most of the people who give you gifts are sincerely trying to express their positive feelings and wish you well. Very few are thinking, "I'm going to burden you with this gift so that you will feel beholden and guilty for life if you get rid of it." If they actually do try to manipulate you through obligation, you can choose not to enable that pattern. Be diplomatic: "We are so blessed that we passed some of our things along to those who need them more," or, "We loved it so much, we wore it out."
  3. Security: those who have experienced hard times in the past (poverty, homelessness, family upheaval) are understandably nervous about being caught short. They can be tempted to stockpile things that "might be useful one day." The reality is, however, that many things become obsolete and future needs are difficult to predict (downsizing, for example). It is probably more useful to concentrate on building your savings account than on filling your basement with items that won't necessarily function for you in a different situation.
  4. Memories: it's important to recognize that memories reside in our brains, not in inanimate objects. In most circumstances, we will remember those nearest and dearest to us even in the absence of tangible possessions. Love, honor, and respect aren't measured in numbers of objects around a home. Moreover, the majority of your friends and loved ones would want you to be happy and comfortable in your life environment, not miserable in a cluttered museum of artifacts. Pick a few things that represent the best memories and release the rest.
  5. Identity: what we own may reflect our personalities, values, and dreams--but this idea can get out of hand. Are you clinging to college notes or career materials that are all on the Internet now? Is it realistic for you to expect to use all of those scrapbooking, cake decorating, and furniture refinishing supplies when you are already handling your job assignments, your kids' schedules, and the needs of your elderly parents? Is dealing with your stuff getting in the way of enjoying your relationships? Imagine letting go of who you think you "should" be--according to your stuff--and being happy with who you are!

Give yourself permission to live with less clutter and less stress: you deserve it.


Featured Resources

From time to time, readers request activities that can help them stay connected to their grandchildren, especially if they can't visit as often as they'd like. Geri discovered that one of her professional tools also works great with family members: she used Skype video-chatting to help a grandson complete a section of his book report. It was a terrific experience: he loved using the technology and was as engaged and motivated as a fifth grader can be. Not only that, he wrote this portion of the draft quickly and efficiently. He was so delighted with the experience that he even suggested a future Skype session for reading his book out loud--Geri is looking forward to it. MYM friend Happy Feigelson uses Apple's iChat to engage with her grandchildren. She and Grandpa Lou can chat with them about daily activities and participate in "Show and Tell" from a distance. A favorite activity with one of her grandchildren was using Google Maps together to locate different people in the family. MYM staffer Jane Heineken has relied on Skype to keep her in touch with her daughter, who has spent the school year as an exchange student in Germany. With cats meandering in front of webcams on both sides of the ocean, it's almost as cozy as a home visit!

How has technology helped you stay close to children and grandchildren who are far away, or maybe just across town? Let us know at


Kudos Corner

Congratulations to Gary Wolf, a highly respected member of the extended Markel family & friends clan. Gary is a contributing editor for Wired magazine and has been a TED conference featured speaker. Gary's article, "A Prospector's Tale," is The New York Times Magazine May 15, 2011 cover story. He explores the Yukon's new Gold Rush, brought on by "...economic uncertainty ignit[ing] the market for the most primitive form of wealth..."



  • 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:

  • Play Like You Mean It: Passion, Laughs, and Leadership in the World's Most Beautiful Game by Rex Ryan and Don Yaeger: Ryan is head coach of the National Football League's New York Jets. He is the son of former Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals head coach Buddy Ryan and the twin brother of Rob Ryan, defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns. Blunt, outspoken and sometimes controversial, Ryan offers an insider's view of the NFL. He also suffers from dyslexia, but provides an inspiring example of overcoming challenges to achieve success.


Here's hoping May brings kinder and gentler weather conditions to those parts of the country that have suffered so much.

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