11 Habits to Make Sure You’re Always on Time

Time SquareI am a chronically tardy person. Yes, I am that friend. The one you’re always waiting on. The one who always has an excuse. The one that you have to tell the movie is at 6, even though it really doesn’t start until 7. I am that friend that probably makes you wonder why you invite me to do things.

Let’s face it, punctuality can be a real struggle. Especially when you have kids (perfect example here). I look back and laugh at how late I was all the time as a single person. Now that I have kids, you can imagine how much worse it is now. However, being on time is really important to me these days and I have gathered together some important points about being punctual that I am striving to implement this year. Maybe you’ll want to try them too. Unless you’re a rockstar mom who always gets there on time with all kids in tow. If that’s the case, maybe you should be the one writing this post 😉

Here are 11 habits that will make sure you’re always on time and transform you into the punctual person you’ve always wanted to be.

 

Change your attitude

watchsquare11. Take responsibility 

The first step to changing your chronically tardy self is to be honest about it. For a long time I was really good about making excuses. Some were legit and others were not. This really stressed me out because I don’t like to tell lies, not even white lies. But I didn’t want people to think they weren’t a priority to me and so I would throw out some story about how the baby blew up his diaper as we were heading out the door and I had to change his clothes. First step in changing your attitude is to take responsibility for the times you are late. Even if it’s a traffic jam, admit you didn’t allow extra time for it like you should have. This kind of accountability stings and it will help motivate you to avoid being late at all.

2. Make it a priority

If you’re going to be on time, it’s going to have to be a priority. Tell yourself that when it’s time to be out the door, you are leaving no matter what isn’t quite done or ready. If that means your hair is half curled, too bad. If your kids’ shoes don’t match, too bad. If you can’t find your phone, too bad. We’ll talk about how to avoid these problems in a minute, but if the reality is one of these kinds of problems or being late, choose to be on time.

3. Notice the benefits

I have a sister who is always on time. I totally admire this about her. When we do things as a family, we rarely ever have to wait on her. We can almost always count on her being on time. She is dependable in her job and people respect her for that. Not only that, she never seems to be in a rush. On the other hand, I am constantly scrambling and still end up being late. The reality is, being on time eliminates so much stress in our lives. When we are chronically late to things, it can take a toll on our stress level. Make a habit out of being on time and you can get rid of that over-rushed feeling you constantly have.

4. Get rid of the fear of being early

My senior year of high school my friend and I aided in the office first hour and I don’t think we were on time more than 3 times the entire year. At one point, one of the secretaries mentioned, nonchalantly, that her father-in-law always said, “I’d rather be an hour early than 5 minutes late.” To which my friend replied, “Why would you want to waste an entire hour of your life being early?”

I have to fight myself to not agree with that statement. I always try to get as much done as I possibly can and I think that has been a major contributor to my tardiness. I would rather do something with the time I might just be sitting and waiting. So I came up with this: Always have something on hand that you can do while you wait. I love having ebooks on my phone so that I always have something to read while I wait. If you have kids, keep a coloring book and crayons in your diaper bag or the car to keep them entertained if you happen to have extra time before an appointment or event. Weigh your options, would you really rather run the risk of being late than having to wait a few minutes for being early? I doubt it.

Don’t underestimate how long it takes to do something

Timer25. Time yourself

Don’t underestimate how long it takes you to get ready, get your kids ready, or load up your car. There are certain apps out there to help you track how long it takes you to do certain things and record that for future reference. I use Time Journal for the iPhone. Or you could just use a timer. If you think it only takes you 10 minutes to shower, you may be forgetting about the time you use before and after you’re actually under the water. Set a timer and remember or record that for future reference.

6. Time your trip

If you usually go to the same places most days (IE school or work) time your trip in the car or bus. If you’re going somewhere you don’t normally go, check your maps app to see the estimated time for the trip. Check traffic and even the weather to time your trip accordingly. Don’t rely on your own estimations until you’re super familiar with the route. And in that case, be honest, not optimistic about how long it will take.

7. Allow 15 minutes extra

We all know there is bound to be a few interruptions along the way and we need to account for those. Most days, you’ll probably use up those extra 15 minutes without even noticing it’s happening. In the rare occasion you arrive 15 minutes early, don’t be afraid. Grab your book and savor those extra minutes.

Prepare ahead of time

Keys main8. Set everything out

The night before, or before you begin to get ready to leave somewhere, set everything out. Set your clothes out, any other items you may need for the day, and make sure your phone, wallet, and keys are by the door. Have your kids put everything they need in their backpacks, set them by the door, and set their clothes out too. This will eliminate the last minute scrambling to pack bags and find keys and missing shoes.

9. Get to bed on time

Establish a nighttime routine that includes setting things out and getting to bed on time. We all know how important rest is and how much easier it is to get out of bed when your alarm goes off if you’re properly rested.

10. Get up on time

Don’t you dare hit that snooze button! If you time your morning and you have to get up at 6 to make it on time, you haven’t accounted for those extra 10 minutes in bed. If you think you’ll be clever and set your alarm 10 minutes earlier so you technically can hit the snooze button and still get up on time, think again. Getting up when our alarm goes off sets the entire tone for our day. If you choose to hit the snooze button instead of getting up it’s like saying to yourself, “I know I committed to getting up at 6 but I don’t take commitments seriously, so I’m going to sleep a little longer.” How do you think that affects the rest of your daily commitments? Really, think about it. This could be one of those keystone habits that when you make it a habit, it improves all areas of your life.

11. Do the most important things first

If it is really important to you to be primped and perfect before leaving the house, allow enough time for that and make sure it’s the first thing you do. If it’s more important to you to leave your house clean, allow enough time for that and make sure it gets done first. Figure out your priorities and take care of those first. By doing that, you will never feel like your goal to be punctual interferes with what’s most important to you. Even if problems arise and you have to leave something undone, the first thing you do will already be done and the less important things can be skipped.

I don’t want to be embarrassed anymore by being that family that walks into church late and disrupts whatever is going on. I don’t want to be constantly scrambling to get out the door and screaming at my kids to hurry. I don’t want to burn with shame when I call the doctor’s office to tell them I’m running late because…well who knows what I’ll come up with. Can you imagine what life would be like if you arrived somewhere with a few minutes to spare? It’s such a rare occasion for me that it’s hard to imagine what it would feel like if that was my new norm. I’m willing to make these changes, are you?

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Let me know in the comments below, I’m curious, are you punctual? How do you do it? If you’re not, what do you think is the most important change for you to make right now?

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5 Love Languages: Words of Affirmation

Words of Affirmation Square2***This is the second post in a series of 6 about the Five Love Languages in marriage. I suggest reading them in order. Part 1

If your husband seems to respond especially well to your compliments, verbal encouragement, or little love notes, Words of Affirmation just might be his love language. When we talk about “speaking” love languages, this is the one where that is literally the main form of expression. 

Do you need to hear “I love you” in order to feel that your spouse really loves you? If words mean a lot to you and you can specifically remember compliments your husband gave you a long time ago, or sweet things he said, this might be your love language. 

What are the different dialects?

Within the love language of Words of Affirmation are several different dialects, or forms of expression.

1. Verbal Compliments

Do you ever offer your spouse Verbal Compliments? Such as, “Hey, thanks for being such a hard worker, it makes me so proud to be your wife.” Or, “You look hot in that suit!” Sometimes, if it is truly sincere, a compliment can light up your entire day. Usually we’re full of compliments when we’re in the “in-love” stage. When we’re dating, we’re quick to point out how good he looks or how hard he works. Somewhere along the line of marriage and falling out of the “in-love” feeling, our compliments often slow down or come to a halt. Bring them back and see how it affects your spouse.

2. Encouraging Words

Another form of this love language is Encouraging Words. Sometimes we just need a pick-me-up when we’re frustrated. A simple, “You’re doing an amazing job, you’ve got this honey!” can sometimes be enough steam to get us to the finish line on a big project. Or maybe your spouse has always wanted to start his own business but has lacked the confidence for a long time. Your encouraging words of, “You would be an incredible business owner, you have the knack for it and you’re determined.” might encourage him to go for it. The trick here is to not encourage your spouse to do something just because you want him to. Thou shalt not use this as a tool of manipulation. Encourage him in his own dreams and you’ll see his attitude change drastically.

3. Kind Words

Kind Words are hard to come by when you’re fighting regularly with your spouse. However, a kind word can be the difference between a total blow-up fight and a calm discussion on a heated topic. Kind words have just as much to do with what you say as how you say it. We all know that tone we get when we’re mad. Mine is sarcastic and condescending. I may not say anything really mean, but the way I say it stings. Such as, after bathing and putting the kids to bed all on my own I might say to my husband, “Thanks for all your help with the kids tonight.” Said in my sarcastic tone is anything but kind and really isn’t going to motivate my husband to help me with the kids. If we choose to use kind words, that means instead of a screaming match, we must choose to keep our voice down, squelch the sarcasm, and seek to understand instead of being understood. 

4. Humble Words

My mother made a comment that has stuck with me throughout my marriage. That is because it explained a deep rooted belief I have about partnership that I didn’t even realize I had. She said, “I never minded being a housewife and doing all the wifey things like cooking, cleaning, and serving your father dinner. It was when it became a demand and simply expected that I stopped wanting to do it.” This explains the dialect Humble Words to a T. As Dr. Chapman says, “Love makes requests, not demands.” We need to learn to humbly request of our spouse instead of demanding. Sometimes demands can come in the form of outright orders or other times they can be implied or sarcastic. We must consciously form our desires into humble requests. Instead of, “Are you ever going to take the garbage out?” or “Seriously, take the garbage out!” We can try, “Do you think you could take the garbage out on your way to work? I would really appreciate it.” I know which form of the request I would be more inclined to carry out. 

Letter 2 squaredHow can I know if this is my or my spouse’s love language?

Dr. Chapman offers a few different ways to check if this is either your or your spouse’s love language. 

1. Do either of you express love in this love language? Is your spouse often offering you compliments or does he seem to have a way with kind words? Do you often try to encourage your spouse through uplifting words? Or do you like to write him love letters? We often express love in our own primary love language. Observe how you each seem to express love and if words seem to be a big part of that.

2. What are your complaints like? Does he often say you are critical or nagging? Do you feel like your husband rarely thanks you verbally for all you do? These are key indicators for which love language you speak that isn’t being spoken. 

3. What kinds of requests do you make? Does he ever say, “Every once in a while I would just like to hear the words, thank you.” Or do you tell him, “Remember when we were dating and you used to tell me how beautiful I was? I wish you would tell me that sometimes.” 

How can I express it?

So let’s say you have discovered that your spouse’s love language might be Words of Affirmation. How do you speak it then?

Here are a few ideas:

•     Try saying positive things about your spouse to other people, both when he is there and when he is not. This not only helps to remind you why you love your spouse but it will boost his love tank knowing that you are confident verbalizing why you love him to more than just him. 

•     Try your hand at writing him a note or a love letter. I love to write letters! I feel like it helps me express myself better than just speaking because it provides extra time to transform my thoughts and emotions into words. A love letter can be read over and over and over again. If you don’t feel like you can write an entire letter, try a small note. Even a post it on the bathroom mirror that says, “Have a great day! I love you!” can help your spouse feel loved and give his attitude a boost that day.

•     Work on reining in your nagging or critical comments. These are especially hurtful to a spouse whose love language is Words of Affirmation. Try replacing them with positive, encouraging comments and I guarantee you will see a shift in your spouse’s attitude and perception.

•     If Words of Affirmation do not come naturally to you, try Dr. Chapman’s suggestion of keeping a little list of ideas that you hear from other people or in the media. The more you hear the better you will be at forming your own version of these expressions and relaying them to your spouse. There are lots of things in life that don’t come naturally to us, that doesn’t mean we need to resign ourselves to never being able to do them. Just practice and it will come, I promise. 

No response?

So what if you feel like your spouse isn’t really responding to your loving words? The most likely answer is that it isn’t his primary love language. If this is the case, stay tuned to the following weeks as we will be studying the other 4 love languages.

If you’re sure it is his primary love language but he still isn’t responding, there may be more going on. If you have struggled in your marriage for a while, it is possible he is interpreting your kind words as manipulation. He may believe the marriage is over and it’s too late. Either of these options doesn’t have to mean the end of your marriage. Stay consistent in expressing love in the language that means the most to him, without expectation of receiving anything in return. Do this for an extended period of time, Dr. Chapman suggests at least six months. It is hard to maintain a cold heart when a person is loving you, in the way you understand and appreciate, without conditions. 

Experiment!

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not Words of Affirmation is your husband’s primary love language, try an experiment. For an entire week (or more if needed), try some of the above mentioned ideas for ways to express love to your spouse through words. Do at least one every single day. Do it with the desire to make him feel your love, without expecting anything in return. Make a note on your phone to write down your observations. If there is a drastic shift in his attitude, you’ve probably found a winner. If not, stay tuned and learn about the other 4 love languages to see if there is one better fitted to your spouse.

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Is Words of Affirmation your love language? Or your spouse’s? I want to hear about it! How do you feel loved? How do you express love with words?

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Learning to Love Your Spouse with the 5 Love Languages

Learntolovesquare

**There are a couple of affiliate links in this post. That means, if you choose to purchase a product through the link provided, at no extra cost to you, I will receive a small commission.

Last year was a rough one on my marriage. Maybe you have had those years too. I’m happy to report things are much better now but man, for a while there, I wondered why I was even married. 

I kept asking myself why marriage is even important. Why can’t I just do it by myself? Maybe that part of me is coming from seeing my mom do it all on her own for so many years that it seems like a partner is sometimes more of a burden than a blessing. Sometimes I feel like I have 3 kids instead of 2. 

After a lot of prayer and pondering this past year I have come to the conclusion that God’s plan is centered on families, with husbands and wives, for a reason. I feel like learning to work in a partnership is an essential skill we are to learn in this life. It teaches us humility and helps us grow as a person like no other role in life. In fact, I think it is even more challenging than parenting. After the “in-love” feelings have run their course and you’re left with this complete stranger, that is when real love can be learned.

It’s easy to love somebody when we feel those euphoric feelings and see that person in their absolute best light all the time. We overlook their flaws and feel as if they can do no wrong. The real challenge is learning to love them when they’re in their worst light, and all those little or sometimes big flaws are highlighted, front and center. However, if we can learn to love a person in that kind of light, we are truly loving that person as God does. That is a miracle that can only be manifested in a partnership like marriage. 

The Book

A few years back I read an amazing book that I am almost positive you have either read or at least heard of. The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman changed my married world. After reading it, I realized that although I certainly can’t change my husband in any way, I could make him feel more loved and that could definitely improve the emotional climate of our marriage.

5 LL Book

Let me give you a synopsis of the content of the book and how I’m going to incorporate it into the blog this coming month.

Let me start by saying, you should definitely read the book. It’s less than 200 pages. If you can’t find the time to read it, try listening to it. If you’ve already read it and you haven’t implemented it, try reading it again. I have read it several times and it is really one of those books that has multiple layers. You’ll glean what you need from it in that moment.

The book is written by Dr. Gary Chapman, who has been a marriage counselor for more than 30 years. He discovered that the couples who were having trouble in their marriage were not feeling loved by their partner even though in many instances, the other partner thought he was showing his love. He realized that people feel love in different ways. He compares it to speaking different languages. 

Dr. Chapman has come up with 5 Love Languages including: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. He also explains that we usually feel most comfortable expressing love in our own primary love language. It is most common to have a husband and wife couple who speak completely different love languages. The challenge is figuring out which is your spouse’s love language and then learning to speak it.

My Experience

This concept of love languages is especially poignant for me since I come from a bicultural marriage. My husband’s native language is Spanish and mine is English. We can both communicate in both languages although we prefer our native language. We were raised in different countries, with different cultures, speaking different languages. We have even more differences than already comes in a traditional marriage between partners from the same culture. This has been both trying and rewarding in different ways. However, once I figured out my husband’s love language and began speaking it, he began reciprocating in my love language and our many differences became totally manageable.

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This takes a bit of humility. Even after learning my husband’s love language, it was difficult for me to speak it sometimes. I tend to be a tit-for-tat kind of person and as childish as that is, it is difficult for me to show love when I am not receiving it. I finally had to humble myself and say, “You’re a grown woman and if your marriage matters to you, you will try this, without expecting anything in return.” We have to do that sometimes. If we can find it in ourselves to love without expectations, it almost always ends with mutual love and respect. 

Dr. Chapman has provided an excellent questionnaire in the book and also on his website for both you and your spouse to take in order to determine which love language you speak. If you can’t convince your spouse to take the profile quiz, consider taking it for him and do your best to answer how you believe he would.

What’s Coming

Every Monday in February I am going to post about one of each of the love languages. I’ll summarize what it is, how to know if it is your or your spouse’s love language, and offer some ideas on how to speak it. I’ll talk about different dialects within each love language and ways you may be hurting your spouse without even realizing it. In the future, look for a love languages for children series. This concept extends to all of your relationships. 

I sincerely hope you will implement this concept and try it as an experiment in your marriage. If you feel like your husband’s love tank might be empty, make a commitment to read the book and these upcoming posts to see if you can’t change that. Chances are, if his love tank is full, he will be more inclined to fill yours.

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Have you read The Five Love Languages? Have you heard about it? What do you think? Are you excited to dive into them next month? I know I am! Happy Love Month!

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50 Ideas for “No Light Hours”: Take advantage of the fall time change

Nighttime squareIt’s easy for someone like me, who prefers warm weather and being outside, to get depressed that the time has changed and winter is on its way. However, this time I am oddly optimistic about what I will accomplish with no outdoor distractions. After spending a summer outside building and painting furniture, fixing roofs, and gardening, I’m kind of looking forward to an excuse to stay indoors for a while. Here are 50 ideas to occupy your extra nighttime hours and keep you away from trash TV.

Take up a new hobby

1. Learn to crochet
2. Learn to play an instrument
3. Practice cooking more delicious and healthy meals
4. Go the other route and learn to bake delicious and indulgent treats
5. Read more
6. Take up writing or at least journaling
7. Learn to sew
8. Learn a new language
9. Take an online course
10. Learn to make and bind books
11. Take up scrapbooking
12. Learn how to coupon
13. Learn a new style of dance (maybe you could get your spouse to join in it with you)
14. Make jewelry

gamesMore Family Time

15. Play board games or other physical games like Hide-and-Seek
16. Do puzzles together
17. Go on night drives to see the Christmas lights, make sure to bring hot chocolate
18. Have movie nights at home with popcorn
19. Learn to ice skate together
20. Go bowling
21. Build forts in the living room
22. Exchange foot massages
23. Take treats to a neighbor
24. Learn some songs together and sing them to elderly folk at a nursing home or assisted living center
25. Plan and prepare Christmas for a less fortunate family
26. Just talk over a mug of hot chocolate

 

More Personal Time

27. Take a bubble bath
28. Have a spa night with homemade spa products
29. Go to bed earlier and reap the benefits of beauty sleep
30. Exercise or go on a night walk, just bundle up and wear reflective colors
31. Find a new podcast or audiobook to listen to while you clean or work on a project
32. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
33. Take up meditation
34. Window shop or browse online shops
35. Think about and write down your goals
36. Write a real paper and pen letter to a friend and mail it

Work on indoor projects

37. Paint a room in your house (or all of them!)
38. Paint a small piece of furniture
39. Read this book and declutter your home
40. Fix things that you haven’t gotten around to fixing yet
41. Go through cabinets, drawers, and closets that have needed it for a while now
42. Sell stuff you don’t need online
43. Put together a cookbook of your family’s favorite recipes
44. Make all homemade Christmas gifts this year
45. Make an inventory of your stockpile or food storage, if you have it, and decide where you’re low
46. Organize old, printed photos and keep them in a safe box that will protect against aging and yellowing
47. Organize digital files and photos and back them up
48. Make a password reminder list to help you remember all the different usernames and passwords you have. Protect the document with an easy-to-remember password
49. Clean out your filing cabinet or make a filing system if you don’t have one
50. Organize your brain by reading this book and following through with what it teaches

Let me know if you try any of these and how it goes. Do you have any other ideas? What’s your favorite way to spend that extra time indoors?
Nighttime FB

6 Steps to a Productive Morning Routine

Morning Routine SquareThere are days when I start feeling completely overwhelmed with life, like time is just passing me by and I’m accomplishing very little to climb out of the never-ending hole that is my to do list. Those are the days I know it’s time to get back to my early morning routines.

There’s something magical about having a morning routine on autopilot that fuels your energy and ability to GET. CRAP. DONE.

“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it.”
~Richard Whately

There are definitely days I sleep in until the very last second before I need to be out the door and its my kids who end up getting me up. However, when I make my mornings a priority, I feel so much more inspired and ready to take on the day the right way.

I haven’t always been this way though. Like a lot of people, I used to stay up late and wake up too late to get much done in the morning.

After I had my son, I wanted to pick up running. Because of our somewhat unique situation, I had to exercise in the morning and I realized that if I wanted to run, it would have to be at 5am.

22788653_sLet me tell you, this was sooooo hard for me. I remember grunting every time my alarm went off and wanting, more than anything, to hit the snooze button. After I while, my body adjusted and I actually looked forward to getting up early. It was the only time I didn’t have to be responsible for anyone but myself. I could trust that my husband was keeping my son safe and I could actually be ALONE! It’s not that I didn’t love spending time with my son but I really missed my “alone time” to just be me and not have to worry, constantly, about anyone else. It was therapeutic.

Then I got pregnant again and after the birth of my daughter, I was in survival mode. Like most postpartum moms I would sleep in until the absolute last second that I had to get up and out of the house. That was fine for a while, until I started getting postpartum depression. I  contribute a lot of that to not getting any exercise and completely losing myself in trying to take care of two kids and my disabled brother all at the same time. Once my daughter was a little older and sleeping a little better at night, I made myself pick up my early morning schedule again. It has saved my life!

I am still working out the kinks and trying to decide exactly WHAT I want to spend this precious time doing. Although I’m still working on solidifying my morning routine, I thought it might be helpful to share some ideas for how you can create your own morning routine.

1. Write down the most important things you should (or want to) do in a day

Decide which of these items would best be accomplished in the morning, when your willpower is at its strongest and distractions are at a minimum.

17693241_s2. Plan out your ideal morning

Write out what your ideal morning would look like. For me, I love mornings. I don’t necessarily enjoy getting out of bed, but I love the time I have to myself once I’m up. For me, ideally, I would go for a run, read my scriptures and pray, write for at least an hour or two without interruptions, make and eat a big breakfast with my family, and get ready for the day. Plan it out and see where your priorities are.

3. Decide how long it will take to accomplish

This one’s easy, do the math to figure out what time you will need to get up in order to accomplish those things in the morning.

4. Prioritize

My ideal morning is, unfortunately, totally unrealistic. For one thing, my kids are usually up at 6. That would mean, in order for me to enjoy all the things I want to before my kids get up, I would have to get up at like 2am. Yeah, not gonna happen. So…I can decide how else I can order my mornings and take out something I feel like I could do later in the day if I had to. I have to take a long, hard look at my priorities and see that something will have to be done at a less idealistic time. This is where I’m struggling right now…but I have faith I’ll work it out.

15614704_s5. Get up at your predetermined time

Just do it guys. If you need to get up at 5 and you’re currently getting up at 8 or 9, don’t think that tomorrow you’ll be up before sunrise. Try 15 minutes earlier than your current time for a few days. Gradually increase your mornings in 15 minute intervals until you’re up at your desired time. It’s really that simple. If you have to put your alarm clock on the opposite side of the room, do it. If you want to use a really cool sleep app/alarm clock download this one, it’s seriously the best!

6. Get enough sleep

If you’re going to be getting up earlier, you need to be going to bed earlier too. You have to decide how many hours of sleep you need to work at your optimum level. I know, for me, I need a full 8 hours of sleep. This means that if I’m up at 5, I need to go to bed at 9. Most days this feels unrealistic which means I need to make some changes. Part of what I know will help me with my morning routine is establishing a well-oiled evening routine. More on that another day…

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Making every hour of your day count is a difficult process. It won’t stay the same all the time. It’s continually evolving and changing with the different seasons in your life. However, you won’t believe the difference it will make in your mood, progress toward your goals, and your ability to take care of the little people in your life.

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