All posts by Joe Peraino, PhD

Finding A Good Psychologist Is Easy

By Joe Peraino, Ph.D.

Ask friends and insurance carrier for names of reputable doctors.

Finding a good psychologist is easy. There are plenty of them and tend to be well-trained. They obtained a Ph.D., were trained in scientific methods, and therefore are going to use, for the most part, well-proven techniques.

One should ask friends, whose judgment you trust, if they know of any they would recommend. Ask your insurance carrier for a list of names. Once you’ve compiled 2-5 names, call them up and chat with briefly over the phone to get a feel of whether you’re connecting, a sense of whether they deal with your kind issues, whether they’re available at times you can meet. Little realized by the average person is that the quality of the working relationship between the psychologist and the client determines 50% of the outcome of therapy. The other half is technique. So, it’s important to “feel connected.” Once you’ve chosen who you feel is the right person, call the psychology board in your state to make sure they’re in good standing. Next, meet with him or her 1-3 times before officially committing to a longer course of treatment, if that is needed.

A competent psychologist will be open to evaluating your work together on a regular basis. A competent psychologist will also maintain boundaries with you, i.e., not develop a personal or business relationship with you outside the office.

Anxiety

Overview of Common Anxiety Disorders

By Joe Peraino, Ph.D.

Panic Disorder

Sudden bursts of anxiety symptoms, feel out of control, think they are dying

Phobias (Agoraphobia, Social, Specific)

Fear of being in places where they might feel trapped or unable to get help in an emergency. Often the emergency is having a panic attack. Specific phobias may focus on animals, elements of the environment (e.g., water), certain situations (e.g., flying), blood, injections, etc. Social phobia involves a pervasive fear of scrutiny by others.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

People with GAD have chronic and pervasive anxiety about most aspects of their lives. They are hypervigilant for threats.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a set of symptoms, including hypervigilance, re-experiencing of the trauma, and emotional numbing, experienced by trauma survivors.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is classified as an anxiety disorder but has many distinct features. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts that the individual feels are uncontrollable. Compulsions are ritualized behaviors that the individual feels forced to engage in. (Contrast OCD with Obessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder where the compulsive habits are not perceived by the individual as unusual or a source of concern/anxiety)

Symptoms of Depression

By Joe Peraino, Ph.D.

SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION

  1. Persistent sadness, anxiety or empty mood
  2. Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  3. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  4. Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities
  5. Loss of interest in sex
  6. Sleep disturbance (insomnia, early morning awakening, oversleeping)
  7. Appetite disturbance (loss of appetite, voracious eating, weight loss/gain)
  8. Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling/acting slowed down
  9. Thoughts of suicide or death, suicide attempt
  10. Restlessness, irritability
  11. Difficulty concentrating, paying attention
  12. Increased headaches, stomachaches and/or vague physical complaints

Depression may be masked by alcohol or drug abuse, or by physical symptomatology such as chronic headaches, pain, digestive disorders.

SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION IN CHILDREN

In addition to above symptoms for adults, add:

  1. Frequent boredom
  2. Withdrawal
  3. Brooding
  4. Hyperactivity or hypoactivity
  5. Lowered school performance
  6. Acting out (misbehaving, sexual, substances, aggression)
  7. Increase in arguments with authority figures
  8. Recurrence of previous problems such as bed wetting, separation anxiety, etc.

Parenting with Wisdom

By Joe Peraino, Ph.D.

We are not taught in school the three most important things in life.  These three things are relationships, sex, and parenting. This article is about parenting. Check other articles for the other topics.

Some things they never teach you in school. Three of the most important things not taught in school are sex, relationships and parenting. Why are these life circumstances so important? We spend a significant amount of our time thinking about, engaging in, or managing these activities. In this article, I will use the concept of wisdom to identify the effective ingredients of parenting. Future articles will discuss sex and relationships.

Let’s spend a few minutes talking about wisdom. It is a difficult concept to define. Even though it’s hard to define, we can easily recognize it when we see it. It is considered the pinnacle of human development and human excellence. It reflects an expertise in how we conduct our lives.

Paul Baltes, an adult development expert, from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, identified seven properties of wisdom:

Wisdom represents a truly superior level of knowledge, judgment and advice;
Wisdom addresses important and difficult questions and strategies about the conduct and meaning of life;
Wisdom includes knowledge about the limits of knowledge and the uncertainties of the world (can deal with ambiguity);
Wisdom constitutes knowledge with extraordinary scope, depth, and balance;
Wisdom involves a synergy of mind and character, an orchestration of knowledge and virtue;
Wisdom represents knowledge used for the good or well-being of oneself and that of others;
Wisdom although difficult to achieve and to specify is easily recognized.

Let us apply these principles with an example. A colleague’s son told her he wanted to color his hair green. A low wisdom response to this request would be an emphatic, emotional NO! Fortunately, my friend used some wisdom in the situation. She realized that children often need to express themselves as they strive for independence and identity and remembered her own and her friends’ identity struggles as an adolescent. This realization of the source of the request (experience; see principle 4) led to a calm discussion (imparted knowledge, shared advice; see principles 1 and 2) with the boy about a) the reactions he would receive from friends, other peers including girls (in whom he was most interested), relatives, teachers and strangers; b) the opinions formed about him, from “radical, dude” to “what a stupid child;” c) what he would be communicating to the world with his statement of green hair; d) how long he would keep it green; e) the dye would have to be of good quality else it would not look good, stain clothes, get in his eyes, etc.; and f) alternatives to hair dyeing as an expression of individuality. After a few discussion sessions over several days, the boy chose to grow his hair longer instead of coloring it chartreuse. The parents would have preferred the previous length of hair but realized there are no simple, definitive solutions to issues like these (can deal with ambiguity; see principle 3) and exercised their best judgment not to battle over a fashion statement (benefited self and others, principle 6).

Parents often do not treat children with respect. A wise parent entertains all points of view and behaviors with openness and as having value. Children’s views have value, too. A wise person is not condescending. Children’s ability to think is immature. Their capacity to modulate affect is immature. Their basic knowledge is less than adults. Because they are maturing, parents need to respect their attempts to develop by acknowledging that they have different needs and views of the world. Parents provide guidance and nurturance and assist children to become independent and responsible. One major contributor to the development of responsibility and independence in children is the demonstration of respect toward them. This does not mean that children get their way all the time nor does it mean they have equal say. It means parents listen to and acknowledge their views without judgment, without ridicule, and without anger.

A wise parenting strategy is giving children choices. It teaches them an important life lesson: every choice has consequences. Choices help children think first and act later. They are therefore less likely to make bad choices. It teaches children that their destiny is mostly defined by their own choices. Parents are also less likely to be perceived as the “bad guy.”

Another wise parenting practice is to discipline without emotion. When children misbehave, they do not deserve, or need, berating. When you are stopped by a police officer, do they yell and scream at you? Not usually (J). They essentially give you a ticket and say, “have a nice day.” That’s how children should be disciplined: without anger, without disappointment, without guilt induction. The message needs to be: you made the wrong choice; here is your consequence. No drama, no big deal, no federal case. Children are going to make mistakes; they are not born perfect. Expect them to make errors, help them correct it by talking to them first. If they do not get it, reinforce it with a little “behavioral reinforcement,” i.e., consequences. Just like getting a ticket.

In case you are worried that you need to be old and gray to be wise, studies show that wisdom is uncorrelated with age; a wise person can be young or old. Studies also show that the top factors associated with wisdom are social (or emotional) intelligence and thinking styles that are not judgmental and progressive, a thinking style that can move beyond existing rules and being tolerant of ambiguous situations. Wisdom increases with collaboration; if two parents are in the household, communicate!

Being an effective parent is not easy. It requires the person to have knowledge about a multitude of topics and issues, to have the experience to empathize with one’s child, to know enough about society and current fads to place the issues in a proper perspective, to have good judgment, to have their emotions under reasonable control, and to be able to deal with complex situations. And you thought your job was hard. An effective parent is a wise person. Work on the wisdom principles and general recommendations outlined above and watch your children mature.

General Parenting Practices

Adapted from Russell Barkley, Ph.D.

Principles

  1. Parents are Shepherds, Not Engineers: Strive to Enjoy Your Children as Individuals
  2. Rather Than Trying to Redesign Them to Be Like Others, Accept Children for Who They Are
  3. Use Immediate Feedback
  4. Act, Don’t Yak
  5. Keep Your Sense of Humor
  6. Use Rewards Before Punishment
  7. Anticipate Problem Settings–Make a Plan
  8. Keep a Sense of Priorities
  9. Practice Forgiveness (Child, Self, Others)
  10. Shape Behavior Through Reinforcement Techniques
  11. Consider Establishing a Home Token System
  12. Use Fines, Time-out
  13. Heavily Praise High Compliance Commands Initially
  14. Use Imperatives, Not Questions
  15. Use Eye Contact, Touching When Communicating
  16. Child Recites Request
  17. Make Complex Chores Simpler (if necessary)
  18. Reduce Time Delays for Consequences
  19. Reward Throughout the Task

Time Out Procedure

  • For Household Rules—Instant Time-out
  • Deliver command as a 3-step sequence
    • Command (5 count, backwards)
    • Warning (5 counts, backwards, raise voice)
    • Initiate time-out, if noncompliant
  • Release From Time-out Contingent on:
    • Serving minimum period (1-2 minutes/year of age)
    • Must be quiet during time-out
    • Then consent to and do command
  • Afterwards, Reward Next Good Behavior
  • If Child Escapes Time-out:
    • Increase length of time-out does not work
    • Consider using fines in Token System
    • Use bedroom for time-out (remove fun objects from room); close and lock door if in extreme situations

Attention Deficit Disorder

Across the Lifespan: Symptoms and Treatment Options

By Joe Peraino, Ph.D.

What is ADHD/ADD?

  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • A diagnosable mental disorder whose hallmark symptoms include inattention and impulsivity with or without hyperactivity
  • Significant impairments seen in social, academic and/or occupational functioning

    Symptoms (CHILDREN AND TEENS)

1. Inattention
  • Great difficulty sustaining attention
  • Most notable in dull, boring, repetitive tasks
  • Diminished persistence not necessarily more distracted
  • “Doesn’t seem to listen”
  • “Fails to finish assignments”
  • “Daydreams”
  • “Often loses things necessary for school”
  • “Can’t concentrate”
  • “Easily distracted”
  • “Shifts from one uncompleted activity to another”
  • “Can’t work independently”
2. Impulsivity or Behavioral Disinhibition
  • Considered hallmark symptom of ADD
  • Poorly regulated activity and impulsivity
  • “Trouble waiting turn”
  • “Doesn’t cooperate”
  • “Rude”
  • “Blurts out in class and at home”
  • “Interrupts others”
  • “Takes frequent unnecessary risks”
  • “Immature and childish”
3. Hyperactivity
  • More active than normal
  • Even when asleep!
  • Situational fluctuations exist
  • Failure to regulate self consistent with setting or situation
  • “Always on the go”
  • “Acts as if driven by a motor”
  • “Can’t sit still” (e.g., in class seat or at dinner)
  • “Talks excessively”
  • “Taps, fidgets, drums fingers constantly”
  • “Often hums or makes odd noises”
4. Other behaviors
  • Great variability of task performance
  • Differing behavior towards fathers than mothers-well established
  • Average 7-15 points lower on IQ tests; 10-15 on achievement tests
  • Delay in onset of talking (2-5% of normals; 6-35% of ADDs)
  • Speech problems (2-25% of normals; 10-54% of ADDs)
  • More minor physical abnormalities
  • More health problems (24% of normals; 51% of ADDs)
  • More accident-prone (46% accident-prone with 15% having 4+ serious accidents; three times higher than non-ADD)
  • Sleep problems (falling asleep 23% vs. 56%; tired upon waking 27% vs. 55%)
  • Emotional disturbance (44% have one other diagnosable problem; 32% have two problems; 11% have three or more)
  • 30% anxiety disorder
  • 40% mood disorder
  • 50% Conduct or Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • 25% Learning Disabilities
  • Conduct problems (50% have significant social relationship problems)
  • Estimated in 3-5% of child population
  • Average age of onset between 3-4 but varies from 0-7
  • 3:1 male to female ratio
  • 63% of females and 78% of males have ADHD
  • 70-80% will continue symptoms into adolescence
    hyperactivity tends to lessen
    58% fail at least one grade

Symptoms (ADULTS)

Sometimes called “ADD Residual Type”
Symptoms vary but can include any of the following:

1. Inattention
  • Fails to finish what started
  • Often does not seem to listen
  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty concentrating on sustained-attention tasks
  • Difficulty sticking to an activity
2. Impulsivity
  • Often acts before thinking
  • Shifts excessively from one activity to another
  • Difficulty working independently
  • Frequently talks out or interrupts
  • Difficulty waiting turn
3. Hyperactivity
  • Excessive pacing or fidgeting
  • Difficulty staying seated
  • Moves about excessively during sleep
  • Always on the go
4. Emotionality
  • Overly sensitive to rejection and frustration
  • Shifts mood suddenly and unexpectedly
  • Frequent negative thinking after a success
  • Unexplained, chronic, recurrent depression
  • Finds being soothed and held difficult
  • Needs excessive sensory input (TV, music) to blot out extraneous noise
5. Other facts:
  • 50-65% of children will continue symptoms into adulthood but only 20% hyper
  • Only 3% are free from other diagnoses
  • 80% anxiety symptoms
  • 75% interpersonal problems (vs. 50% controls)
  • 20% sexual adjustment problems (vs. 2.4% of controls)
  • 10% attempt suicide
  • 5% die from suicide or accident (10x that of controls)
  • 30% drop out and never finish high school
  • Only 5% continue into college (vs. 41% controls)

    Bottom line: ADHD is a serious developmental impairment

 

CAUSES

  • ADHD a biochemical brain disorder, largely hereditary: 80-90% genetic, 10-20% environmental
  • (twin studies: 90% identical vs. 25% fraternal)
  • If child is diagnosed with ADD, 15-20% of their mothers have ADD; 20-30% of fathers; 25% of siblings vs. 2% in controls
  • Environmental causes: food allergies/diet 5%; head injury; poor maternal health; poor infant health.

Alternate ADD Theories (none proven)

  • Allergic or toxic reactions to food and diet
  • Feingold theory (dietary techniques for better behavior, learning and health)
  • Sugar theory
  • Tempo of life theory
  • Child raising theory
  • Head injury theory
  • Blood lead level theory
  • Too much TV theory
  • Bad home environment theory
  • Poor schooling/teacher theory

ADD Myths

  • Just normal childhood rambunctiousness
  • Over diagnosed and medications over prescribed
  • Basically due to bad parenting and lack of discipline
  • Ritalin, and other psychostimulants, are addictive
  • Stimulant medication stunts growth
  • Stimulant medication turns kids into “zombies”
  • No evidence for stimulant medication
  • Kids with ADD are learning to make excuses
  • Teachers push pills to control children’s behaviors
  • Children outgrow ADD
  • It is not possible to accurately diagnose ADD

Treatment: Medications

  • Stimulants (thought to block the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine into the presynaptic neuron and increase the release of these monoamines into the extraneuronal space)
  • Methylphenidate (Concerta, Metadate, Ritalin)
  • Adderall
  • Dexedrine
  • Nonstimulant: Strattera (relatively new; not a controlled substance)

Stimulants Found to Improve

  • Core Symptoms
  • Inattention
  • Impulsivity
  • Hyperactivity
  • Secondary Concerns
  • Noncompliance
  • Impulsive aggression
  • Social interactions
  • Academic efficiency
  • Academic accuracy

Documented Side Effects

  • Loss of appetite/weight loss*
  • Trouble sleeping/insomnia*
  • Stomach pain
  • Rapid heart rate/high blood pressure
  • Possible slow growth pattern
  • Dizziness, drowsiness or changes in vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Tics
  • Impotence (teens and adults)
    *most common side effects

 

Summary of Medications

  • Stimulants and Strattera are FDA approved first line agents for treatment of ADD/ADHD
  • Antidepressants are second line agents (Welbutrin and SSRIs)
  • Antihypertensives (HBP) are alternate agents typically used adjunctively with other medications

Treatment: Behavioral

  • Children: Alter parental response to elicit desired behaviors and diminish undesired behaviors; provide parent training
  • Adolescents: Increase attention to consequences; provide family and individual therapy
  • Adults: Coaching the adult in self-management of ADD; provide individual and couple’s therapy

For More Information

CHADD www.chadd.org 
Attention Deficit Disorder Association
Driven to Distraction (1994). Hallowell, E. & Ratey, J.
A Parents Guide to ADD (1991). Bain, D.
ADHD in Adults (1995). Nadeau, K.
Adolescents and ADD: Gaining the Advantage (1995). Quinn, P.
ADHD/Hyperactivity: A Consumer’s Guide (1991). Gordon, M.

Saying “no”

Joe Peraino, Ph.D.

Bottom Line: Get in the habit of saying no because it means saying YES to yourself!

Saying ‘no’ to others reflects an affirmation of one self. When you say ‘no’ to another person (partner, boss, child, coworker, parent), you are saying ‘yes’ to yourself, your beliefs, and your values. There is no need to feel guilty about standing up for who you are. Saying ‘no’ seems like a negative when actually it is a positive!

Especially in a work environment, saying ‘no’ is a time saver and a way of staying organized. Saying ‘no’ is a commitment to your plan, a commitment to your goal. It prevents distractions and keeps you on task. Saying ‘no’ also improves your performance and increases your productivity. People are less likely to distract, take advantage of or habitually depend on you in the future

Some people are raised to please and accommodate others. This is particularly true for women who are often trained to be caretakers. Without a balance between pleasing oneself as well as others, pleasing others often results in disappointment, being taken advantaged of, or even abused. It takes time to break the habit of pleasing others, and it involves not sacrificing oneself in the process of helping others. Saying ‘no’ involves getting clear about what you’re about and what you believe in. Often, it’s a self-esteem issue.

Of course, saying ‘no’ is one way to break the habit. It takes practice and nerve to say ‘no.’ First, start with somebody who is relatively safe to say ‘no’ to or a topic that you have a good chance of being successful. The first time will be nerve-racking but with successive practice, saying ‘no’ becomes easier and easier.

People will respond with anger, annoyance, and rejection to your initial efforts. They’ll get over it. You might lose some friends; if they leave you (e.g., don’t talk to you as much), they were not ‘true’ friends to begin with. You need to shed that interpersonal/emotional baggage! And remember, their anger is not your crisis. They are primarily frustrated because they’ve always gotten their way, and you changed the rules. They’ll adjust if they truly care about your relationship.

Guilt is your problem. People can try to make you feel guilty; it is your choice if you decide to feel guilty. If you sincerely believe in your values and what you stand for, there is no need to feel guilty about. Others are disappointed in your choice? They’ll actually learn to respect you in the long run. Besides, you will probably be helping them get over some dysfunctional dependence on you.

A word of caution. Don’t be hostile or angry in saying ‘no.’ You’ll just be perceived as picking a fight. And if you are accustomed to pleasing others, it’ll be a fight you’ll likely lose. Be diplomatic. Tell them you see things from their point of view but your perception is the reality of the situation you’re in. So, get clear about what you what and what y

Multi-Tasking

By Joe Peraino, Ph.D.

Studies show a drop in efficiency between 30 and 50 percent on the individual tasks performed while multi-tasking.

Your computer is great at multitasking. You can write articles while performing downloads or scan for viruses as you send e-mail.

But your brain is not programmed that way. So beware of trying to do two things at once, especially if they are complex or require your undivided attention.

Studies indicate a drop in efficiency between 30 percent and 50 percent on the individual tasks performed while multitasking.

Conclusion: Don’t Multi-task. Do things serially not in parallel.

Organizing Yourself from the Inside-Out

Keys to Increased Creativity and Productivity

By Joe Peraino, Ph.D.

Have you heard this before: “I’m going to get organized this time and stick to it?” Maybe you have said it yourself. Staying organized is like trying to keep weight off; we do it for a while and then fall back into old habits. Most of us have learned many organization techniques over the years: get a day planner, make to-do lists, develop an organizing system so we can find and store things easily, touch paper only one time, “do, delegate, delay or dump,” and have a method of handling phone calls and e-mails. All too often, however, we end up still getting bogged down, and the planners and the to-do lists fall by the wayside. We end up right where we were before, maybe a little improved but still struggling with overload, over commitment, and overly tired.

Why can’t we stay focused and organized? Much like in dieting, something or someone comes along and interrupts the plan. Your manager asks you to do a special assignment; your mother is suddenly in the hospital and you have to help take care of her; you find yourself spending a lot of time being social during work hours; or you are inundated with phone calls and e-mails. In providing personal coaching services, I find individuals have tremendous difficulty remaining free from distractions. In general, I have found that people do not stay organized when 1) stress is not managed, 2) the people in our lives are not managed, or 3) our emotional or psychological problems are not corrected. If any of these three factors exist, it is difficult to stay focused on an organizational plan .

When we have control over these three life circumstances, then we are organized on the “inside.” “Inside” refers to our emotions, our mental state, and our psychological make-up. Being organized on the inside allows frees up energy that is then used on organizing the “outside.” “Outside” refers to the environment and the situations we find ourselves in. We only have so much mental stamina. If it’s all used up solving or trying to manage personal “inside” issues, then little is left over for managing our work, home, friends, hobbies, family of origin, etc. People stay organized in their work and home environments (the outside) only when their personal life is organized (the inside).

High levels of productivity and creativity occur only if we have learned organizational and time management skills and we can deal with stress, manage people, and are free from our own psychological distress. We need all four factors to be in place to be fully productive and have time for creative pursuits. We can only use the time management and self-organization techniques if we have ourselves together; that is, if we are organized from the inside out.

Organizing the outside: a few time management and organization techniques. Obviously, not all techniques generated over the years can be summarized in this short article but my coaching clients have found the following tips most useful. These techniques may not work for everyone since we all live and work in different kinds of settings. What might work for one person may not work for another. The reasons for these vary depending on personality, the level of distractibility, or not being organized on the inside.

Planning.
One minute of planning saves five minutes in execution. That’s a 500% return in time savings on the investment of planning!! Since most of us sell our time, increased planning produces increased productivity and leaves more time for creative pursuits.

Develop the habit of neatness.
Most executives would not promote a person with a messy desk or work environment. When things are in their proper place, one saves a tremendous amount of time. Why waste time remembering where you put things? Neatness and organization makes you feel relaxed and in control.

Have everything at hand when you begin a task or project.
Clear your desk of everything but what you need for the task. It reduces distractions and you’ll save time. Pretend you are a chef; have all your utensils and ingredients within reach.

Resolve to handle a piece or paper (or e-mail) only once.
Make a decision on it: toss it, delegate it to somebody else, act on it, or file it. Handling a piece of paper many times is a huge time waster. 80% of papers filed are never used or seen again. Best way to save time: throw things away!

When finished with something, put it away.
This could be reference materials, pen or paper, clothes, cooking utensils, travel brochures, files, checkbook, whatever. Complete your transaction. Be done with it so you can move on, both physically and mentally, to other things without worrying about it again.

Develop a planning system.
Every successful person has one. You can develop your own system with the essential features to include daily, weekly and monthly lists. Lists bring order out of chaos and can probably save about 25% in time. Lists reduce feelings of being overwhelmed. After you have made your lists, prioritize them.

The most effective people do the most important thing first.
“The secret to success is constancy to purpose.” (Benjamin Disraeli) Those who think, plan and stay organized will reach their goals and function with great efficiency.

Getting organized on the inside. We are able to use organizational tools most effectively when 1) we handle stress, 2) we manage people, and 3) we minimize personal problems. These are the three precursors to organization and productivity. Let’s look at how we can handle these three areas.

Stress.
Stress is the experience of a situation as being overly taxing and self-endangering. Stress responses can be physiological, behavioral, or attitudinal. Ways to manage stress include the following:

Limit the amount of stress you are exposed to.
Be proactive; take charge of situations.
Take a break, dialog with others; get some feedback about the situation or person. Maintain physical activity: running, yoga, tennis, etc.
Change your environment.
Change your perspective about what is stressful.

Most of us think that in this busy world, one way to handle stress is by multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is simply doing many things at once. Research suggests that we should … avoid multi-tasking at all costs! What happens when your computer runs more than one or two programs at a time? It runs slowly and laboriously. Multi-tasking makes a computer less productive. Multi-tasking makes us less productive, too!

Managing people.
How we deal with co-workers, supervisors, supervisees, spouses, children can take up a lot of our time and mental energy. Are we being taken advantage of? Are we pulling somebody else’s weight? Are we a people pleaser? Here are some organizational tips on managing the people in our lives.

Learn to say ‘no.’ Saying ‘no’ to others is saying ‘yes’ to ourselves and our goals.
Identify people who steal your time; don’t succumb to their schedules or tactics.
Somebody else’s crisis does not have to be yours.
Control interruptions: the more you allow them, the more they will happen.
Ineptitude on their part does not constitute an emergency on yours.
Don’t give in to the shrillest cry, squeakiest wheel, or loudest complainer.
Don’t get stuck as the “official” problem solver.

Psychological or emotional problems.
Marital problems, child management issues, depression, addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, or food, chronic anxiety, attention deficit disorder, worry, perfectionism, procrastination, fear of failure, fear of success, and family problems are a few examples of mental states that interfere with organization and productivity. A study released in May 2002 found that 20 million Americans suffer from depression. Nearly 50% of marriages end in divorce in the United States. It is an understatement to say that these conditions affect our productivity and ability to stay organized. Space limitations do not allow for an in-depth discussion of these bandits of organization but fortunately, there are numerous techniques and interventions to treat these problems.

This article just scratched the surface about how to organize one self inside and out. There are numerous resources that can help in each area (organizational tools, stress management, learning to manage people, and dealing with psychological and emotional issues). These are important life tasks. Why procrastinate? Get organized inside and out!

Opposites Attract? or Do Birds of a Feather Flock Together

By Joe Peraino, Ph.D.

Opposites sometimes attract but they tend not to last. People assume that they need someone to complement them so they look for someone who has characteristics they do not possess. For example, an introvert may seek an extrovert, someone with weak homemaking skill searches for an individual who could double as a maid, etc. The notion of complementarity likely began with the notion that male and female genders possess underlying differing abilities and their union, through marriage, would make each complete. A symbolic manifestation of this is the universal sign for yin and yang.

My research on couples’ personality characteristics tested whether “opposites attract” or whether “birds of a feather flock together.” The findings indicated that serious dating couples who were more similar to each other were significantly happier in their relationship than those who were less similar. A subsequent study on married couples found similar results. Studies looking at traditional couples versus egalitarian couples demonstrated the latter couples to be happier. The main reason for this is that egalitarian couples tend to share roles while traditional couples tend to have distinct activities they engage in. For example, the focus of the woman in a traditional marriage is domestic and centered around child-rearing while the man’s focus is on job and achievement. Over time their interests and the things they enjoy diverge more and more. The only way to overcome the insidious separation is to spend extraordinary time working on finding things in common to do and talking through numerous differences. Egalitarian couples do not have to work so hard since they already have a priori commonalities.

People marry for many reasons that have little to do with true love, which of course, is the ideal reason for marrying. These reasons can include: unwanted pregnancy, pressure from family, being afraid of not finding somebody else, being afraid of not finding anyone, promoting one’s career, wanting to be married by a certain age, security, status, etc. Hollywood couples could marry for many reasons. I have not seen research that specifies whether their divorce rate is higher than the national average of near 50%. Some actors and actresses, like many others, may have intimacy deficits and thus marry for superficial and/or status reasons. These relationships do not last long. They likely have more pressures on them than the typical American—people wanting to get to know them, being away from home a lot, many people coming on to them, being too busy with work, not being able to nurture their relationship on a regular basis. One thing in their favor is that they both hold jobs in the entertainment industry.

Communication is important in a relationship. Communication is easier when people hold similar attitudes and belief systems. Opposite may attract but, like opposite poles of a magnet, they more often propel away from each other. Stick to somebody like you.