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
October/November 2008

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

A Managing Your Mind Newsletter reader sent us this tale of dealing with a Demon of Domestic Distraction: "I live in a small apartment building that has a laundry room with one washer and one dryer, right next to my apartment door. This makes it so convenient and easy for me to keep track of my laundry. No more forgetting a load at the laundromat, and I can return to my apartment to accomplish some things in between loads. However, this multitasking recently got the better of me. I was doing laundry and decided to leave the jug of liquid laundry soap on top of the washing machine since I had one more load to wash. After about thirty minutes, I returned to the laundry room to put the load into the dryer, only to see a lake of laundry detergent all over the floor of the little room! I had not put the lid tightly enough on the detergent and when the washer vibrated and shook, the jug fell off. What a mess! I got a spatula from the kitchen and spent quite some time on my hands and knees, frantically trying to scoop all the liquid back into the jug before some one discovered my predicament. Unfortunately, my husband caught me in the act - leaving me to wish that I had just taken an extra second to tighten the lid and put the jug on the floor out of harms way." Similarly, an MYM staff member once tried to prop a pitcher of fresh-squeezed orange juice under the electric squeezer nozzle so she could reach for more oranges from another part of the kitchen. Her spouse walked in just in time to see the pitcher topple over and dump its oozing, sticky contents all over the countertop and cupboards underneath. Distraction and liquids don't mix!

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


"It Worked for Me" - Jane's Story

"My in-laws, who live in a country known for its unreliable infrastructure, seem to bring their troubles with them. On a visit early in our marriage, with five of us crammed into a small condominium, a thunderstorm caused the power to go out. As first time homeowners, my husband and I had no plan of action. We assumed that others in the complex would report the situation, but when we called the utility company to complain after 36 hours, it turned out we were the only ones to notify them of a problem in the area. Thus we learned Step One. By fall of 2001, we had moved to a larger home, but my in-laws' visit became entangled in the events of 9-11. Distracted by our worries about airline travel and security measures, we put off cleaning and preparation until the last minute. After filling the fridge with hundreds of dollars worth of groceries, I switched on the vacuum cleaner to attack the mess and--the entire house went dark and silent. The Blackout of the eastern US had hit. We ate a lot of barbecue those first few nights together... This year, with six in the house, we lost power for another 36 hour period, for no discernible reason. We applied some lessons of the past, but time and technology had caused new problems. All of us felt much more helplessly dependent on our electronic devices, including the ones that couldn't be charged. We had switched to cable internet and phone, but the routers were electronic. And my in-laws were now using canes and walkers, leaving them unable to hold flashlights or move safely around piles of candles. The windowless bathrooms were a particular challenge. I'm now looking into better solutions, such as battery operated lanterns that can be put in strategic areas."

As inconvenient as these situations were, none involved the kind of danger and destruction experienced in a hurricane or other such disaster. In a true crisis, could you provide for the health and safety of your family? Day-to-day stresses and distractions can keep you from following through on intentions to create a safety plan and stock your homes with essential supplies. Professional organizer, author, and speaker Judith Kolberg has literally written the book on what you need and how to get it. On her website, Kolberg explains the importance of approaching disaster preparedness like any other organizational project, and provides free, downloadable Disaster Documents. Her book, Organize for Disaster: Prepare Your Family and Your Home for Any Natural or Unnatural Disaster, is available from Squall Press or Amazon. Kolberg's articles can also be found in many publications and online newsletters. Don't let the minor distractions of everyday life keep you from preparing for major emergencies. Your safety, and that of your family, may depend on it.


Strategies for Success:

Time management and procrastination are issues for many people. It's easy to become caught up in entertaining but meaningless distractions, to allow the stress of work to interfere with important relationships, or to put off unpleasant tasks for "later." What if you found out that there would be no "later"? Would you prioritize and manage your time differently? The late Randy Pausch was a young husband, father, and university professor when he received the news that he was terminally ill. Determined to make the most of whatever time he had left, he developed a lifestyle that would maximize the efficiency of his working time in order to increase the amount and quality of time spent with his loved ones. If you need to stop worrying about tasks and actually complete them, consider this tip from Geri's Time Management Seminars: examine each item on your to-do list, estimating how much time is realistically needed for each task. Rank each item from 1-5 in terms of how difficult, tedious, or focus-requiring the task is. Rank each item in order of importance, for instance by deadline. Then schedule each item into your calendar or PDA; assign the appropriate amount of time but also consider the amount of focus you can bring to items at different times of the day or week. Follow your progress on the items; if you are successful, mark a smiley or other visible reward right on your calendar. If you are not successful, remind yourself that this process is an ongoing experiment and adjust one or two of the variables for next time. To be inspired by the example of Randy Pausch, you may want to watch his college lecture on time management, a 1.5 hour presentation available here.


Student/Parent Corner

Geri was interviewed by Melissa Greenwood for the Special Ed Connection online magazine about transitions to college for students with special needs. To read about the planning, support, strategies, and study habits needed for these students, click here.


Work/Life Corner

Employees come to the job with strengths--and with weaknesses that may need to be addressed in order to excel in their work. A reader recently asked Geri for advice on paying attention to detail, finding errors in written or on-screen work, and preventing errors in the first place. Whether you suffer from Adult AD/HD, a learning disability such as dyslexia, or are simply a "big picture" thinker rather than a detail-oriented person, the following tips may help you reduce the errors in documents or programs that are distributed internally and/or to clients.

  • Allow enough time to complete the task in a careful manner, and give yourself enough time before the deadline to check your work.
  • Make a checklist of the three most important features that are involved in the assignment, such as dates, dollar amounts, client names, etc. Create a visual image of a correct version.
  • Work when you are most alert, in a quiet, non-distracting setting, and work for shorter, rather than longer, periods of time with ample brief breaks.
  • To stay on target, provide step-by-step instructions to yourself, out loud, as you work.
  • Place a ruler under each line of text to screen out distractions, and read the information aloud. Follow each word with your finger as you read so that you read what is actually on screen/on paper, rather than what is "in your head."

If, like the employee above, you have recently been diagnosed with Adult AD/HD, an important resource is ADDA, the Attention Deficit Disorder Association. ADDA is a non-profit organization that provides information, resources and networking to adults with AD/HD and to the professionals who work with them. This month, ADDA's e-News focuses on celebrity host Howie Mandel, who discusses the effects of AD/HD on his academic, personal, and professional life. To read his story, click here.


Coaches Corner

  • Geri recently presented a teleseminar entitled "The Use of Card Decks to Enhance Client Progress and Coaching Profits" for the ADHD Coaches Organization. She notes that the use of flash cards as learning and memory aids is accepted practice during the elementary school years, but fades as students get older. She argues that content-oriented card decks provide a novel and valuable approach to adult learning situations, as well. For example, many adults appreciate that the cards are tactile and visually pleasing, containing manageable chunks of information on each card. Using her Mem-Cards [insert link] as an example during the teleseminar, Geri discussed the ways in which flashcard decks can be used as learning tools by professional coaches, teachers, tutors, and parents. For more information on booking a seminar about the educational and marketing benefits of using card decks, click here.
  • Michigan coaches may be interested in joining Geri as members of the Professional Coaches Association of Michigan. PCAM was organized in 2004 to serve the broad spectrum of coaches who live and work in Michigan, and to work for the advancement of professional coaching. PCAM's state conference was held in Lansing in September, and there are monthly coaching cafes for collaboration and networking held in Lansing, Kalamazoo, Detroit, and Ann Arbor. For more information about PCAM, call (248) 320-6637 or visit their website. In the Ann Arbor area, interested coaches are invited to attend the third Friday of the month, 9:00 am, at Panera Bread, 3205 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor. Contact Julie Kassalow Norris for more info, (734) 332-7871.


Featured Resources

  • As Daylight Savings Time nears, Geri reminds those who suffer from the "winter blues" to consider being evaluated for Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD. SAD is a type of depression that recurs at the same time every year and seems to be linked to the loss of natural daylight as perceived by the eyes. Your physician can evaluate and refer your case for effective treatment using stress management techniques, medication, and/or light box therapy. One company that offers light box products is Northern Light Technologies.
  • SkyMall, the purveyors of so many "Why didn't I think of that?" products, now offers a type of shoulder holster to support a laptop computer while leaving the hands free to type and click. Those with back trouble or other discomfort sitting for long periods of time, those who are soothed by movement while they work, or those who need to use their laptops in places where no work surface is available will appreciate this method of making a laptop truly portable. For product details, click here. SkyMall's version of the Portable Desk sells for $39.99.


Conference Report

  • "Tales of Triumph from the AD/HD Trenches: Adolescence through Adulthood" was the title of Geri's presentation at the 2008 Michael Golds Memorial AD/HD Conference. The keynote speaker was Dr. Yvonne Pennington (mom of television star, Ty Pennington) who spoke on "Raising Amazing Kids to Adulthood Even If One Has AD/HD." The conference was lively and friendly with many opportunities to meet people and gain insights. Also speaking were two respected Ann Arbor neuropsychologists,Isabell Beaulieu, Ph.D. and Roger Lauer, Ph.D. Plan on coming next year to this exciting and informative one-day conference held at Oakland Community College. Below is Geri with several colleagues (from left to right: Terry Dickson, M.D., J. Russell Ramsay, Ph.D., and Yvonne Pennington, Ph.D., Geraldine Markel, Ph.D.).
  • Over 75 people attended Geri's Invited Address on "How to Ensure Mentoring Miracles and Academic Success: Solving the Puzzle of Underserved, AD/HD, and Learning Disabled Students." at the American Psychological Association 116th Annual Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. The reaction was emphatic: too many teens and young adults are not benefiting from any kind of academic or career mentoring. Especially during these difficult political and economic times, people need to reach out and reach in to give to their communities and help young people succeed. Talk about the possibility of mentoring with those in your school or workplace, your professional organizations, athletic groups and other activities to which you belong.
  • The University of Michigan's 2008 National AD/HD Awareness Week presentation was a spectacular success. Once again, the room was filled with university and community members interested in issues faced by both children and adults with AD/HD and other disabilities. Danny Heumann of Heumannly Capable answered a host of audience questions on many aspects of coping with disabilities. To read Ann Arbor News coverage of the event, click here.
  • Geri presented a teleseminar for ADDA (see Work/Life Corner above) on Oct. 1, 2008. The topic was, "You Can Be a Better Reader." For ADDA's complete list of teleseminars, click here



  • 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 from the authors, email for more information at,, or $12.95, digital download $10.00.
  • Geri was recently interviewed by Jim Allen, the Big Idea Coach, The interview will be available at
  • It was standing room only at the University of Michigan back on September 19, 2007, when Geri presented "Defeating the Demons of Distraction" in recognition of National AD/HD Awareness Day! This program is now available to everyone in either audio or video form. In it, Geri describes distraction as a primary characteristic of adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. She discusses the 8 common demons and strategies to increase task completion, speed, and accuracy. Available as CD or DVD for $12.95 (+S/H) (or as a MP3 download for $10.00) from the Managing Your Mind website.
  • 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. New price, $15.95! 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
  • Trying to achieve a better work/life balance? The tips and strategies to help you stay on track 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

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 Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Walls describes a childhood of challenges - poverty, parental substance abuse and mental illness, social isolation-- that left a legacy of both scars and gifts in her determination to succeed.
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow. Many have been touched by Pausch's insights and optimism in the face of terminal illness (see Strategies for Success, above).

Have you read something lately that really recharged your batteries? Share it with


Take time to give thanks for all of the positives in your life this season!

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