Managing Your Mind
3975 Waldenwood ? Ann Arbor, MI 48105 ? tel/fax (734)761-6498 ?
Geri Markel
Managing Your Mind Newsletter
September 2007

Welcome to the September, 2007 edition of the Managing Your Mind Newsletter. The goal of this communication is to help you manage your mind and enhance your work, life, and/or school performance.

Around the middle of each month, you will receive this practical newsletter providing tips, stories, resources, and announcements. 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

Do digital music devices affect motor dexterity? Graham is beginning to wonder! This avid fisherman writes that he doesn't mind whiling away the hours in between bites as long as he has some decent tunes to listen to. In the old days, he brought along a portable cassette player, but the compact iPod seemed a much more convenient upgrade. On a trip to the lake, Graham tucked the iPod into his shirt pocket, pulled on a jacket, and topped his ensemble with a fishing vest. Somehow, as he leaned over the water, the iPod still managed to slip out and fall in. The device initially survived the dunking but later the menu screen stopped working. So, Graham bought the smaller Nano and it became his new companion, tucked securely in a deep pants pocket. Smaller isn't always better, however: upon stepping into his tiny, new dinghy, he lost his balance as the boat slid out under him and ended up sitting in several inches of mud and water. He used a hair dryer on the Nano, and was relieved to find it still working. Disaster comes in threes? Yes and no: Graham recently took a third plunge into the lake while wrestling with a large rainbow trout. But this time, lessons learned, the Nano was inside a Ziploc bag--and he had brought a complete change of clothes. He says, "I landed the fish! As of today, the Nano is still working. How much longer? Only the fishing season can predict the answer!

Let's laugh together about our experiences. If you have one to share, send it to


"It Worked For Me" - Joyce's Story

"Occasionally I get into difficult situations where my mind races with negative, unproductive thoughts and I feel like I can't move forward. This is usually the result of an emotionally charged relationship or a fear of failing on some important task. To break out of my paralysis, I sometimes turn to my 'touchstones' to put my problems into perspective again. These touchstones are people in my life who are good listeners, who can communicate with me in a way that makes me feel comforted, and who understand me well enough to know what I need to work through certain things. For instance, my friend Beth has known my family for the longest amount of time and is the most empathetic when I'm having problems communicating with them. My husband has the most patience with me when I feel panicked about not having the skills to undertake new responsibilities. My friend Cara may be the most useful of all because she has no problem telling me when I'm overreacting and need to, 'chill out and let it go.' Some people in our lives may be resources or may direct us to the right resources. They can't necessarily solve our problems but they can legitimize our concerns or give us that needed kick in the pants! Of course, I strive to do the same for them if I can. When I was younger, I was ashamed or afraid to ask for help. Now I reach out. I understand the value of having and being an emotional touchstone. "

If you've used a tip from a Managing Your Mind book or seminar or you've come up with one of your own, please share with me by calling (734) 761-6498 or emailing


Strategies for Success:

As every student knows, September brings the opportunity to launch a new school year with better study habits. Even adults long out of college find the arrival of autumn a natural transition time to tackle new projects or to turn over a new leaf in their own work habits. To accomplish more at your desk, take a look at your work/study area. Try tip #44 from Geri's booklet, Defeating the Demons of Distraction: 111 Ways To Increase Work/Life Performance and Decrease Stress: sit facing away from hallways, doors, and windows. This helps maintain focus and reduce needless distractions. You interrupt your mental energy flow every time you hear a voice or sound, or look away. Also consider tip #46: post a sign or set an alarm to signal the beginning of work or other activity. "Do it now!" could be a sign to jog you into action. A visual or auditory trigger is difficult to ignore, raises awareness, and reminds you of your good intention.


Student Corner

Students may be unaware that the pace, difficulty, and importance of homework increases as they move from elementary to middle to high school. The poor study habits that could be ignored previously will now become major barriers to homework completion - and academic success. A checklist can help organize homework completion. This checklist or daily "to do" list can be posted in a visible place and serve as a step-by-step guide. To download a sample of the Student Checklist for Managing the Homework Completion Process, click here. Once downloaded, the checklist can be shortened or adapted for the student's special needs.


Parent Corner:

You don't want to start the new school year with the same old problems. September is the time to review and plan for this academic year. Here are five steps to take stock of where your child has been and where you'd like him or her to go during the '07-'08 school year:

  1. Schedule time to review information and accomplishments from the previous grade. For example, revisit grade sheets and transcripts, teachers' anecdotal reports, and psychological reports.
  2. Identify strengths and weaknesses to maintain a focus on the positives and to improve skills in areas of vulnerability.
  3. List some realistic academic and/or social goals for the year.
  4. Identify actions to take and schedule activities. For example, if math was an area of weakness, address it by setting up tutoring or coaching sessions throughout the semester.
  5. Contact experts such as your pediatrician, psychologist, social worker, or school or private counselor about your questions or concerns. For example, one or two telephone calls can quell your fears or set you on an important/useful course of action.
  6. Lastly, be proactive. For example, avoid homework hassles by establishing a homework time and place early in the semester. Ensure that time is devoted to learning and memory, not just filling in answers on a homework page. Download a copy of the Student Checklist for Managing the Homework Completion Process and use it as a guide. Sometimes you can best help your child by focusing on one section of the checklist at a time.


Coach's Corner

For coaches, tutors, and teachers: meetings are a fact of life for every professional, as well as for his or her clients. A consultant recently wrote to ask how to make dull, go-nowhere meetings more interesting and worthwhile. Geri recommends getting a copy of the book, Energize Your Meetings With Laughter by Sheila (Happy) Feigelson. This is a simple, 106 page, down-to-earth guide for making meetings more productive by putting lighthearted humor and fun to work.

According to Feigelson, humor sparks creativity, the "stuff" of effective meetings. And like any other skill, humor can be nurtured and cultivated. With vivid anecdotes and practical examples, Sheila shows how to meaningfully and purposefully plan for laughter in any segment of a meeting: from arrivals, introductions, and agendas through reports, refreshments, and small-group discussions. She also shows how to use breaks and thank-you's to keep participants interested and active. Professionals and volunteers alike will find dozens of ways to energize their meetings with laughter. This handy and important resource is available from (ISBN-13: 978-0871203151).


Featured Resources

Blackberries and Palm Pilots can be great, but PDAs don't suit every person or situation. Some users have trouble resolving the constant technical challenges of digital planners, while others simply prefer the visual and tactile appeal of a traditional notebook agenda. Plus, few parents in busy families would entrust young children with expensive devices. An Ann Arbor company named Buttoned Up is winning rave reviews for products such as the "CrossItOff.list" planner ($9.95), which is divided into two sections: a clean and simple canvas for lists, phone numbers, appointments and tasks, and a section with duplicate sticky notes that can be used to inform or delegate tasks to others. The Buttoned Up "Life.doc" organizer ($29.95), mentioned in the July/August 2007 issue of Detroit Home Magazine, provides eight tabbed sections to compile and store vital family information such as health records, insurance policies, legal documents, and emergency plans. Information can be entered by hand or via the included CD ROM. Buttoned Up is "dedicated to helping you get organized." Check out all of their products at here.



You will be able to purchase Geri’s NEW BOOK: Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Proven Strategies to Increase Productivity and Decrease Stress in September, 2007! Look for it at Ann Arbor bookstores such as Nicola’s Books in the Westgate Mall. Geri will have copies on hand during her presentations at both the Ann Arbor District Library and The University of Michigan (see below). This book is designed to arm workforce employees, independent professionals and family managers with simple yet powerful strategies to stop distraction from interfering with effective performance. Practical, step by step techniques help you rid your life of formidable enemies such as The Technology Demon, The Others Demon, The Activities Demon, The Unruly Mind Demon, and four others.

About the workbook for Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction:
A workbook to supplement the text is in preparation. Do you have a story or concern that you want addressed? Send me your survival tip, a question, or answer to any of the following questions: What are your worst Demons of Distraction? Under what conditions do these Demons attack you? How do you deal with them? What advice do you have for others? Contact

New product! Mem-Cards for Defeating the Demons of Distraction. This pack of 28 fast-reading, pocket-sized cards provides a personal coaching tool that can be used by individuals or in corporate training. Each deck contains the key ideas and important insights from Geri's booklet, Defeating the Demons of Distraction: 111 Ways to Increase Work/Life Performance and Decrease Stress. In just minutes a day, you'll get everything you need to know to improve your life. Available at $9.95 each. For more information or to buy for your own use or as a gift, click here.

Defeating the Demons of Distraction Mem-Cards


Upcoming Events:

High school students and their parents should plan to attend College Night at the Ann Arbor District Library on Monday, September 17, 2007. The AADL is sponsoring an evening of expert advice on Applying to College: Finding and Paying for the College that Fits, Those Pesky Essays, and Those Pesky Tests (SAT and ACT). Geri will participate, along with John B. Boshoven, Counselor for Continuing Education at Community High School and private college counselor, and Debbie Eisenberg Merion, founder of Essay Coaching and a former college English instructor. Free, 6:30-8:30 pm, Ann Arbor District Library, 343 S. Fifth Ave. There is a free Questions and Answer follow-up teleseminar on 9/26 at 8 PM. Contact Geri to sign up.

Save the noon spot on Wednesday, September 19, 2007, which is the Fourth Annual National AD/HD Awareness Day. The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) promotes this important event, which seeks to inform the general public about hidden disabilities like ADD, ADHD, and related learning disabilities. In recognition of this cause, Geri will present a seminar entitled, "Defeating the Demons of Distraction." This presentation is sponsored by The University of Michigan Ann Arbor Office of Services for Students with Disabilities and several other student support services. It is free and open to the public. Campus location: Pond Rooms, Michigan Union. There is a free Questions and Answer follow-up teleseminar on 9/27 at 8 PM. If you or a group with whom you are involved is interested in a presentation to promote National AD/HD Awareness Day, contact Geri.

Enjoy an evening in the cozy atmosphere of Ann Arbor's premier independent bookseller, and get your first edition of Geri's new book, Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Proven Strategies to Increase Productivity and Decrease Stress, signed by the author! Nicola's Books, 2513 Jackson Road in the Westgate Shopping Center (easy access off I-94), is hosting a presentation and book signing on Wed., October 17, 2007 at 7 pm. If you live in--or will be visiting--southeastern Michigan, Geri would love to greet you! More information to come. Contact


Upcoming Conferences

Conferences are a great opportunity to meet and get to know experts in the field who can answer your questions and address your issues. If you're interested in AD/HD, consider attending two conferences that will be held in the fall. Both conferences are small and offer opportunities for interaction with local and national experts.

  • Michael Golds Memorial AD/HD Conference at Oakland Community College, Farmington Hills, MI, October 5, 2007. For more information, go to
    • At this conference, Geri will present the seminar, "Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Increasing Productivity and Decreasing Stress."
  • 5th Annual ADHD & Learning Disabilities Conference at The Great Wolf Lodge & Indoor Water Park, Traverse City, MI, October 13, 2007. For more information, click here or contact Terry Dickson, M.D. at
    • At this conference, Geri will present the seminar, "Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: An Arsenal of Tools & Strategies for Adults and Older Adolescents with AD/HD."


Enjoy the last precious days of summer!

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