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? 🙂

read more
The Rebel’s Guide to GTD – Change

The Rebel’s Guide to GTD – Change

Photo link

If you're struggling to get things done or to make significant changes in your life, it pays to consider whether you're at war with your inner rebel. Are you:

  • Giving your rebel too many rules? Are any of the rules extreme, seemingly stupid, or put in place to please others?
  • Asking your rebel to do something far too easy for her? Have you neglected to give her a big challenge, preferably with some competition thrown in?
  • Neglecting to give your rebel the opportunity to be unique or to lead others in the process of change? Are you inadvertently encouraging her to follow the sheep?
  • Disrespecting your rebel by putting her down? Are you asking her to follow the advice of someone who's a hypocrite or has few credentials (even if that's you)?
  • Heaping on the guilt, in an effort to motivate your rebel, for tasks that aren't vital to sustaining important relationships?

You might consider referring to these questions whenever you seem to be experiencing resistance to change. You might also consider a related article on how feeling obligated can produce resistance

The truth is, however, that even after addressing all of these potential rebel stumbling blocks, you still may not have the change you want. I've been there! In those situations, it's time for a Super Power solution. 

One of my favorite changed rebel stories is that of George Mueller. More than a rebel, he was a conniving thief! He attended a prayer meeting with a friend with the intention of making fun of it later at the bar. But hearing the Word of God brought him up short. He continued to attend those meetings until he felt compelled to submit his life to Jesus Christ. George's life changed radically. But one thing didn't change; George was still very strong-willed. He ended up becoming an example of what radical faith can do.

In the same way, your inner rebel is likely to keep her strong will. God can use that strength to do great things. But perhaps like George, you need to hear the Word of God and you need to bow the knee to Jesus Christ and His purposes for your life. That's my prayer for you.

Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.

Hosea 14:9

The Rebel's Guide to GTD – Guilt

Rebel's Guide to GTD – Respect

The Rebel's Guide to GTD – Superior

The Rebel's Guide to GTD – Challenge

The Rebel's Guide to GTD – Rules

The Rebel's Guide to GTD – Intro


read more
The Rebel’s Guide to GTD – Guilt

The Rebel’s Guide to GTD – Guilt

Whereas brats rarely feel guilt, rebels are quite prone to it. After all, they aren't rebelling because they want to hurt people for the most part. They're rebelling because they feel they know best and refuse to be constrained by silly rules made by people they don't respect. A rebel will respond to the demands of someone on a power trip with intentional sloth. But give them someone truly in need and they will expend all their effort to help. Of course, the helpee is also much more likely to respect said rebel than the overbearing authority figure.

This is an issue to discuss with respect to getting things done because we intuitively know that guilt works to get our inner rebels moving. Their surprisingly tender hearts will often get them up and busy when nothing else will. The problem is we tend to abuse this strategy to the point that it backfires. Guilt is such a painful emotion for the rebel that if we heap it on, the rebel may just plug her ears and ignore us, even when the guilt is appropriate.

Here are some examples of the inappropiate use of guilt as a rebel motivating tool:

  • How can you stuff your face when there are millions of people who don't have enough to eat?
  • There are so many unemployed people right now who would kill to have your job and all you can do is whine about what you have to do
  • Think of all the infertile women who would love to have a child and all you can do is complain about how crazy yours are driving you

Instead, consider posing these guilt-free questions:

  • What need are you meeting with food that you could meet in more constructive ways?
  • Is there a way you could make your job more satisfying or are you ready to look for a new one?
  • When are your children easiest to be around and is there a way you could encourage that environment more often?

Guilt is effective with your inner rebel, but it should be used sparingly. Use it when your grandma is in the hospital and your rebel wants to finish watching all the episodes of her favorite TV show on Netflix before visiting her. 

A good clue that you're using guilt to motivate is the word 'should' and its derivatives. What kinds of shoulds have you heaped on your inner rebel to no avail? 

Rebel's Guide to GTD – Respect

The Rebel's Guide to GTD – Superior

The Rebel's Guide to GTD – Challenge

The Rebel's Guide to GTD – Rules

The Rebel's Guide to GTD – Intro


read more
The Rebel’s Guide to GTD – Rules

The Rebel’s Guide to GTD – Rules

The first thing we are tempted to do when dealing with our inner brat is to give her some rules. Your brat procrastinated on that big project and you had to stay up all night getting it done? She hasn't taken advantage of that expensive gym membership even one time since January? She has been web surfing for hours while the laundry evolves into a leviathon?

You surmise that what your brat needs is some good old-fashioned discipline. From now on, she is going to be up at 5:45 a.m. so she can be at the gym first thing. She could have gotten away with working out three days a week if she had kept at it in January, but now that it's summer, she will be up and sweating every single day if it kills her. You don't care how tired she is after a long day of exercising, working, teaching, mothering, cooking, and housekeeping, she IS going to spend an hour working on long-term projects before she even touches the computer keyboard. And two loads of laundry must be washed, dried, folded, and put away each evening or she will not be able to read or watch TV. She'll learn, right?

The rebel that lives inside of each one of us revolts in response to rules. I have witnessed this time and time again in people I love who are more outer than inner rebels. Rules are quickly assessed as "stupid" and not applicable to them. As an outward rule follower myself, I marvel at their refusal to acquiesce, and deep down, respect them for it. Nine times out of ten they are absolutely right that the rule is wrong. If you listen closely, you will hear your inner rebel roar when you give them rules like:

  • Absolutely no fat, carbs, or sweets
  • Everything must be recorded and tagged in a to-do list
  • Every decent photo must be scrapbooked and journaled chronologically
  • Everything you eat must be weighed, measured, and recorded
  • Every goal must be written, shared, and broken down into mini steps
  • You must eat 9-11 servings of produce and drink 11 cups of water daily
  • You must adhere to the schedule laid out in 15-minute increments

Most people who struggle to make meaningful lasting change are dealing with an inner rebel who hates rules. Two case studies. The first is FLYLady. I wrote a Woman's Day article about her home organizing routines more than a decade ago. Although she was an immediate success, there were as many anti-FLYLady responders as there were fan girls. FLYLady's rule that women wear their shoes all day really raised a rebel ruckus. Groups of FLYLady adherents formed whose identity was simply that they refused to wear their shoes in the house

A second case study. Mark Forster developed a system of task management that initially thrilled his rebel forum. Tasks could be accomplished simply by intuition, when they "felt ready to be done." The only problem was there were still a number of rules in the system. Immediately, the forum members objected to the rules and began proposing alternate rules. More than two years later, they are still at it.

If you are giving your rebel rules, your inner forum is revolting against you! So what are we to do? Don't we still need rules to get our rebel in line? Rules work better for rebels when:

  • There are few of them. That's why trying to crack down in multiple areas backfires.
  • There is a really good reason for the rules you have. A rebel will immediately ask, "Why should I?" You better be ready with an excellent answer!
  • The rules aren't merely to please people. People pleasing isn't what rebels do. 
  • The rules aren't extreme. Rebels still believe in common sense.
  • The rules aren't based in fear. Rebels aren't afraid of much, especially consequences that "might, possibly" happen.

I will give you a personal example of the Rebel Rules Philosophy in action. I would like to cook healthier meals more often. So today I noted a weekly menu on that was for grilled meals, complete with shopping list. I read one review that raved about this menu and I added it to my shopping list. My kids and the cicadas outside were very noisy at the time, but I could hear my inner rebel pitching a fit. She was saying, "You're supposed to grill EVERY DAY for a week? Really? Your kids are going to eat grilled zucchini boats? Uh-huh. And you're going to make a grilled dessert every night? That is just stupid!" 

So rather than do what I would normally do and buy everything I need for the grilled weekly menu, only to let the stuff spoil because I don't cook it, and then wonder why I am so lazy, I listened to my rebel. I might grill once or twice this week instead.

What kinds of rules have you given your rebels that have been resisted? Are there any rules you've laid down that have lasted?

The Rebel's Guide to GTD – Intro

read more
The Rebel’s Guide to Getting Things Done

The Rebel’s Guide to Getting Things Done

In my book, So You’re Not Wonder Woman, I describe the resistance to change as being the fault of our inner brat (a label borrowed from Pam Young). When I think about what brats need, my first thought is a good whoopin’! That’s where the brat analogy breaks down.

When our inner brat doesn’t do right, we often try to whoop her. We berate, punish, and lay down the law. That might work if we were really dealing with an undisciplined brat. However, my recent experience raising a strong-willed teen has convinced me that we are not dealing with inner brats, but inner rebels. Trust me, you do not want to whoop a rebel!

I realized that although I knew what to say and do with respect to the real life rebels in my life, I was not applying those same principles when it came to the rebel in me. After beginning to practice rebel-friendly principles for self change, I am enjoying increased productivity and peace. If you want to make important life changes, achieve your goals, and get things done, you need to learn how to relate to your inner rebel, too. In a series of upcoming posts, I will share strategies for getting along with your rebel so you can get great things done.

The Rebel’s Guide to GTD – Change – conclusion

The Rebel’s Guide to GTD – Guilt – part 5

Rebel’s Guide to GTD – Respect – part 4

The Rebel’s Guide to GTD – Superior – part 3

The Rebel’s Guide to GTD – Challenge – part 2

The Rebel’s Guide to GTD – Rules – part 1

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

read more

Pin It on Pinterest