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
November 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:



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.



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. Recent topics include travel safety, tackling distracting clutter, and positive distractions. 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.

For students and the families who care about them, Geri also offers the Study Tip a Day blog for helpful hints from her new booklet, "365 Secrets of Study Success: A Tip a Day Gets an 'A.'" It's full of great advice on keeping up with your assignments and improving your test scores!

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

  • Visit the new online headquarters of College Admissions Advisors, the trio behind Solving the College Admissions Puzzle: A Guide for Students and Families About College Selection, Essay Writing and High-Stakes Testing. Geri, John Boshoven, M.A., M.S.W., and Debbie E. Merion, M.S.W., now offer one convenient website where you can purchase the book, contact them about coaching services and follow their blog.
  • Geri's most recent student workshop at the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School was "Better Reading Equals Higher Grades and Less Stress." She will be presenting "Time Management and Study Skills for Graduate Students" at Rackham on November 16, 2011 at noon.
  • Geri will also be presenting "Managing the Stress Mess" at Michigan Rehabilitation Services, November 10, 2011 in Ann Arbor, MI.
  • Geri will be attending and exhibiting at the Professional Coaches Association of Michigan conference, "The Transformative Power of Coaching," November 11-12, 2011 in Lansing, Michigan.
  • Geri attended Patricia Drain's seminar in Los Angeles. The speakers were interesting and Tom Antion, the marketing and Internet guru for speakers, provided many interesting guidelines and tips. Here's Geri and Tom.
  • The September 21, 2011 University of Michigan ADHD Awareness Event was a huge success. Kevin Roberts, a UM alumnus, discussed ADHD and cyber-addictions. Rackham Auditorium provided a lovely atmosphere and there was ample seating for all. Kathleen A. Stevens, director, Lifelong Learning, Alumni Association of the University of Michigan, arranged for a podcast of the presentation.

    Left, Geri with Maureen Gelardi, who assists with the event from the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities. Right, speaker Kevin Roberts,


Goofs and Glitches

Molly, an accountant, is always nagging her messy, teenage daughter. Kaitlyn spends a lot of money on fancy lingerie, but then leaves the precious little bits of lace and string all over her bedroom. Molly often returns from work to find Bebe, the dog, chewing on yet another scrap of pink, logo-ed fabric. "Either clean your room or shut your door!" she yells week after week in exasperation, "You know the dog gets nervous when we're gone, and she does this every time!"

After one particularly exhausting day during tax season, Molly arrives home and Bebe comes running to greet her with the telltale piece of cloth in her jaws. She storms to Kaitlyn's room--only to find the door shut, as it should be. Upon further investigation, Molly discovers that the source of the shredded undergarment is her own room; preoccupied by work issues that morning, she left a basket of laundry on the floor and forgot to shut the door! The dog has completely chewed her way through the crotch of a $30 pair of "specialty shapewear for the mature figure." As Molly stands there in dismay, clutching the remnants of her Spanx, Kaitlyn appears in the hallway, smirking. "Don't even say it..." sighs Molly.

Distraction and animals are never a good combination; stay alert to keep both house pets and possessions safe. Note: the names have been changed to protect the innocent (and guilty)--except for Bebe's, because as Molly quipped, "Bebe can't read."

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


Life Management

This month, MYM is focusing on teens: understanding them, living with them and helping them learn. Recently, David Dobbs wrote a feature article for National Geographic magazine on the rapidly expanding body of research in adolescent brain development. Thanks to modern brain imaging techniques, scientists now agree that teen brains operate in unique ways because they are in a transitional state before reaching adult functioning somewhere in the mid-20's. Interpretations differ, however, on whether this "massive reorganization" of cognitive processing is merely a frustrating period of insufficient maturity, or a positive, necessary, evolutionary process.

Dobbs presents evidence for the latter. Adolescents are faced with one of the most terrifying and difficult of all human tasks: stepping out from the safety of parental protection and setting out into the world on their own. Therefore, their brains need to be primed for taking risks and for appreciating the social rewards of doing so; if this were not the case, they would never have an incentive to leave the nest. To parents who despair that their child would rather spend time with friends than family, Dobbs offers this comfort: "...teens gravitate toward peers for another, more powerful reason: to invest in the future rather than the past. We enter a world made by our parents. But we will live most of our lives, and prosper (or not) in a world run and remade by our peers. Knowing, understanding, and building relationships with them bears critically on success." For other helpful insights on the challenges of the teen years, click on the link above for the full article, as well as accompanying photos and video.


Managing Your Academic Mind

You can't talk about teens and their lives without talking about homework. How much should they have, especially when so many of them are balancing academics with sports, the arts, community service, leadership and social activities? It's a highly debated topic at the dinner table, in teachers' lounges and in the media. Author Annie Paul Murphy weighs in with her opinion piece in the Sept. 11, 2011 New York Times. She says we're not asking the right question about homework: "What should matter to parents and educators is this: how effectively do children's after-school assignments advance learning? The quantity of students' homework is a lot less important than its quality." She cites a study coming out in an academic journal which concludes that the kinds of homework given by most teachers in science, English and history have little effect on student test scores. Families who have struggled through years of homework conflicts with their teens will find this hard news to take.

Like Geri, Murphy advocates applying research-based strategies to both the design and implementation of homework assignments. She decries the fact that scientists have made many important discoveries about how the brain learns, but it is taking far too long to incorporate this knowledge into educational policies regarding homework. For example, Murphy points out, research has found that "spaced repetition" of less material over a longer period of time is more effective than assigning large amounts of material in one sitting without spiraling back to revisit it. Most schools, however, still stick with the sequential model of "hit it and move on." She discusses several other learning techniques that are proven to enhance memorization and skill development, but most teachers aren't using them yet. (For more information, read about "retrieval practice" and "interleaving" in the full article, above.)

Educational institutions change slowly, but in the short term, parents can inform themselves and help their teens become aware of these and other homework and learning strategies that have worked for others. Since every student has a unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses, it will take perseverance to find the ones that are best for each child. Attention Magazine, a publication for families dealing with ADHD, offers advice from several experts on homework strategies that could help many students, whether they have ADHD or note. Ultimately, doing homework is not about busywork, power struggles or even grades. It's about learning how best to learn, a crucial skill for an adolescent on the verge of becoming an independent adult.

Featured Resources

Tap into a new resource from Managing Your Mind: Organizational Services to help you manage your stuff! Laura O'Connor, the organizing guru, helps busy students, professionals and entrepreneurs to purge themselves of unwanted clutter. From dorm room to sorority house, apartment to estate, kitchen to attic, basement to garage, home office to closets--Laura has helped a number of University of Michigan community members regain control of their living spaces. Confidential and compassionate, Laura won't give you a hard time when the '80s call and want their shoulder pads back. She can work side-by-side with you, or you can give her free reign to de-clutter and organize. For those with ADHD--who may have particular problems with organization--Geri and Laura can design a customized, workable plan that can be executed and maintained over time. Don't wait until you're buried in holiday obligations and disorder: contact for Laura's help in tackling that mess on your desk or chaos in your closet. MYM Organizational Services are also the perfect gift for the student or harried adult your life.



  • New Book New publication: "365 Secrets of Study Success: A Tip a Day Gets an 'A'." Geri's amassed a tip a day with motivating quotes for secondary and post secondary students. When students learn how to learn, they can show what they know on tests, papers, projects and presentations. Now available in print or download versions. A perfect gift for the college bound student!
  • 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: Noodle Pudding


  • 1 lb. broad noodles, cooked
  • 1/4 lb. butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 lb. cottage cheese
  • 1 lb. sour cream
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Optional: raisins, chopped apples, other fruit, to taste
  • Cinnamon (sprinkle, to taste)


Grease a shallow, rectangular baking dish. Mix the hot, cooked noodles with the butter, beaten eggs, white sugar, brown sugar, cottage cheese and sour cream (also the raisins or other fruit, if used). Pour mixture into pan and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 325° F for approximately 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Serves 10-12

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


As the November days grow shorter, we are reminded that time with our loved ones is precious. Enjoy the holidays, give thanks for your blessings, and spread some joy to those who need it!

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