How a Question Mark Can Help You GTD

How a Question Mark Can Help You GTD

In my recent series on how to help your inner rebel get things done, I noted that we ought to avoid giving our rebels rules.

The problem is that our rebel can mistake any item on a to-do list as a rule. It can be perceived as a should, a have to, or a must which will really get our rebel's goat. My inner rebel seems to like doing anything BUT what is on a to-do list. That's why using something like The Now Habit where you schedule your leisure time can be very effective. 

But if you have a really hardcore rebel like I do, you perceive doing something like scheduling your leisure time as a should, a have to, or a must and you don't want to do that either. Fortunately, there's a very simple solution: consider putting a question mark behind tasks that are likely to rankle your rebel. 

Let's say your spouse has asked you to organize and clean a specific room or area of your home. (You're already in trouble, aren't you?) Instead of commanding your inner rebel to get busy on that tomorrow by noting:

Clean out spare bedroom

Notice the psychological difference the question mark makes:

Clean out spare bedroom?

The first is like an order from a drill sergeant, whereas the second is a suggestion from a sheepish subordinate. You still might not do it, but I would argue that you're MORE LIKELY to do it with the addition of a question mark. 

I've mentioned before that I love Goodtodo because it's like every task has a question mark behind it. I can quickly and easily send tasks to alternate dates. Recently, I've created an Optional category as well. Adding tasks to that category is also like finishing them with the very respectful question mark.

Would you like to try using a question mark to help you GTD? 🙂

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How to Find Real Reviews on Health Products [Answer]

How to Find Real Reviews on Health Products [Answer]

If you've ever Googled for reviews on health products, you've probably had the same frustrating experience I've had. You come up with page after page of sites that repeat the same staged review. Companies buy sites and throw up blogs or comparisons of products that suggest their gizmo "really works." 

Today I found an excellent site I suggest you bookmark: Health Hound. Henry gives you the low down on the latest weight loss products and more with the added benefit of reading what hundreds, who have tried what you're interested in, have to say about it. I love how Henry keeps hammering away with truth, even when it isn't what we want to hear. Sounds a lot like someone else I know. His advice is free, too.

John 8:32
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”


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Get the Scoop on Baking

Get the Scoop on Baking

  Muffin scoop
There is no meal plan, software program, or appliance that will cook for us, but that doesn't mean that these things don't help us get busy in the kitchen.

As you can imagine, every recipe in my house gets doubled. At least. Facing a giant bowl of batter to be made into individual cookies or muffins used to really drag me down. That's before I got the scoop. I am a big fan of Pampered Chef products because they are such high quality and completely practical. Unlike the vegetable decorating kit I once bought, my Pampered Chef products get used over and over again.

I have never enjoyed getting messy. Thus, I do not garden. My husband does. And my least favorite part of baking is the gooey fingers I get from sliding dough off a spoon or dribbling batter on its way to the muffin pan. The two sizes of scoops I purchased from PC make the mess a thing of the past. Not only that, but I get done baking so much faster. Yay! The large scoop is perfect for making big breakfast cookies pictured above (I sub Rice Krispies and chocolate chips and they're PERFECT) and for filling muffin tins. Pairing my scoop with my new habit of preparing breakfast and dinner together means we are starting the day with happy tummies.

What other kitchen tools make it easier for you to want to get cooking?


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Organizing with Kids – Entry, Mudroom, Papers

Organizing with Kids – Entry, Mudroom, Papers

My kids usually come through our side door and take their shoes off. When reading The House That Cleans Itself, I was inspired to find a real life solution for dealing with the kids’ shoes. I had tried a narrow shoe organizer in this space (it’s a very small area) and it didn’t work. The shoes weren’t put away and the organizer took up too much precious space. This inexpensive solution of hanging a shoe organizer on the wall, while not working completely (the kids don’t put their shoes in it when they walk in), does make picking up shoes a very quick affair without sacrificing space. I installed the key hanging/cork board long ago and it helps keep the keys in one place. Unless my husband takes my keys and leaves them on the curio. Or in his jacket. Or his pants. Or if I forget and leave them clipped to my purse. Anyway, you get the idea.

My Simplify101 class inspired me to consider what to do with kids’ papers. While I don’t have nearly the paperwork that families with kids in traditional schools have, I do have papers. In fact, I was ready to tear my hair out when my second son kept complaining that I hadn’t given him his memory verses from church. I HAD given them to him, twice in fact, but he kept misplacing them. The problem is that while each child has a school box for books in the basement, they don’t have a good place for papers. Furthermore, I had no place to put important papers that needed to go out the door with family members. I would often leave registration forms for my husband to take with him on the kitchen counter, hoping they wouldn’t be moved in the meantime. Invariably I would get a phone call, “Where is the ____ form?”

I know. The wallpaper desperately needs updating, but that’s a project for another day. The solution to my problem was to buy a magazine rack from Amazon. I got out my trusty label maker and made a slot for everyone, including a combined one for mom and dad. While I am not so foolish as to think anyone will put important papers in their slot on the way in, I do think it can remind them to take them on the way out. Right now, the kids’ reading club records for church are in their slots and my son’s registration forms for an upcoming mission trip are there, too. When I find these important papers, I know right where to put them and if I’m gone, I am betting the kids will figure out where to look. These magazine racks come in all different sizes and configurations. Would one of them work for you?

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Organizing with Kids – Teen Office

Organizing with Kids – Teen Office

Officeb43 (1)

A year ago, my oldest son started asking for his own room. Well, with five other siblings requiring bedrooms, that wasn’t possible. But I did think it was possible to give him his own office.

We built this large closet for toys in our basement eleven years ago. Originally it had wire shelving, but the shelves kept tearing out of the wall. They weren’t designed to store all the toy bins we stacked on them. The other problem was my inability to lock these doors to keep every tiny toy from being flung around the room without supervision.

My second attempt at taming my toy closet was to remove all the toys and shelving. Toys were moved to an unfinished storage room that could be locked. I purchased four tables inexpensively from Office Depot and stored linens, ski clothes, jujitsu clothes, and hand-me-downs in the closet. This arrangement worked better than the previous system. The only thing that was taken out consistently was blankets for the kids’ fort building.


Officeb42 (1)
It seemed like the perfect room for my son’s office. I moved some of the items stored there, put his computer, a lamp, and bulletin board in it and expected him to be happy. He wasn’t. The kids and my husband were constantly in his office getting blankets and jackets and leaving toys. (I will leave it to you to figure out who was getting what). My son told me he didn’t have enough room to work. Buying him a nice chair didn’t solve the problem. Eventually it became a dumping ground for his stuff.

The Simplify101 class motivated me to try again. I got rid of a van full of stuff from my large storage area and the kids’ rooms (with their help). I will show you the results of those projects soon! I also cleaned out a nearby closet. These decluttering sessions gave me the room I needed to store everything that didn’t belong in an office. I removed two of the tables, which will be great to have accessible for entertaining and our homeschool co-op.

In my large storage area, I found some wall words we inherited from my late father-in-law when he sold his condo. The phrase was appropriate for my son’s love of education and future aspirations: Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. I put it up, set up his printer, and cleaned. The room looked great, but the ceiling tile was damaged from a long ago toilet overflow. The plastic pieces that once held wire shelving were also still in place.

Still mindful that this is organizing WITH kids, my husband taught my son how to putty, sand, and paint over the holes left by the hardware. He also replaced a ceiling tile. Unfortunately, the paint my husband thought was from the basement wasn’t. It IS, however, a basement office where perfection isn’t required. The final piece was a painting from HomeGoods that my son loved. He is enamored with city life. Apparently he has good taste because a woman at the HG checkout was very disappointed I was taking the only painting like it from the store!


He tells me he LOVES his office now. I took this picture of him and realized that the orange cube, although something I had on hand, was a no-go. What a great way to be objective about your space: take pictures! I replaced it with another plastic book shelf from Office Depot and everyone is happy that my teen has his own room at last.




– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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The Easy Way to Create a Digital Recipe Box

The Easy Way to Create a Digital Recipe Box

I have a kitchen filing drawer full of recipes. They are a mix of precious heirloom recipes, old Specific Carbohydrate Diet recipes I no longer use, recipes from friends, and recipes culled from magazines. While this system of organizing recipes has served me well, I wanted to adopt a new approach in keeping with how I use recipes today.

Unless I am searching for an old family favorite, I am unlikely to go drawer diving for a recipe anymore. I typically go to and then follow the recipe on my iPad. Although I like the website, am a supporting member, and have their iPad app, I did a little research to see what was the best method of accomplishing what I wanted. Some approaches I considered:

– Scanning my recipes to Evernote
– Paying BigOven to convert my recipes for use with their website from an iPhone photo
– Scanning my recipes to specific computer folders
– Emailing myself recipes that would then be archived in Gmail folders
– Entering everything into the Shop ‘n Cook software I have on the Mac

Ultimately, the time, expense, or lack of features (e.g., no way to menu plan or create shopping lists) made me decide against each of these. Here is the super fast and effective method I decided on:

1) Go through recipes section by section and throw away any that I know I won’t use
2) Check on for the recipe. If I haven’t tried the recipe I am searching for, I look for a top-rated recipe for the same thing and throw away the original. I add the digital recipe to my AllRecipes box.
3) If I can’t find the recipe by name, or if I can’t find a close enough match, I click on ingredients and search for the signature ingredients. If a find a match or something close enough, I make the addition to my digital recipe box.
4) If I can’t find what I want in AllRecipes, I add a new tab to my browser and search for the recipe by name or ingredients on Google. If I have the recipe from a magazine, I include its title in my search terms. I typically find not only the recipe, but a great photo to go with it. I scan several search results until I find the recipe I want. I highlight the URL in the address bar. Right click and choose copy. Now return to my tab. Click on my Recipe Box. Click on options at the top and choose Add Weblink from the Dropdown options. Left click in the URL box, then right click and choose paste. Enter and I have the option of selecting no picture or from the images on the website. Categorize my link at the bottom as appetizer, main dish, etc. Save it, preview it, and add the link. The recipe now appears in my box. I throw away the paper recipe unless it’s a keepsake.
5) Make a pile of recipes that I can’t find. Hand enter these on (I don’t have many). I will scan the picture to add to these recipes if I have one and care to take the time. I throw these recipes away when I’m done unless they are heirlooms.
6) Scan or photograph precious recipes. I should have a digital version of these in my recipe box now, but typically the handwriting and stains mean a lot to me. I will make sure I have a backup of these scans. I will add the originals to a recipe scrapbook I am creating.
7) Access my recipes from my AllRecipes iPad app and get cooking! I love seeing the modifications people make to recipes, having a shopping list, and just letting the app inspire me with yummy-looking recipes that I may want to add to my box. I also love the built-in timer. If you are an AllRecipes user, look up melphd. By the way, I haven’t been given anything in return for this promo.
8) Enjoy or utilize the freed up recipe space.

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