Mission Spotlight: Respire Haiti

Mission Spotlight: Respire Haiti

I fell in love with Respire Haiti after I read the book Miracle on Voodoo Mountain by Megan Bourdeaux. Megan, at the age of 24, goes on a business trip to a medical clinic in Haiti in August 2010 and ends up on Bellevue Mountain in Gressier. There she sees the desperation of the children. They are hungry, some are working as child slaves. Many of them have lost one or both parents.

 Megan goes back home to Louisiana, to a job she loves at a hospital. However, she keeps having dreams about the tree she saw on top of Bellevue Mountain during her visit. She feels that Haiti is calling her home and moves there with nothing but her suitcases.

 Fast forward 5 years and take a look at what Megan and Respire Haiti have accomplished:

  • A school was built that serves over 500 children.
  • Sports fields were built.  Among the students there are currently 140 soccer and tennis players.
  • A Physical and Occupational program serves 50 children each week.
  • A Mental Health program has seen 40 children.
  • A sewing program called Fil Your Soul has been started for young women so that they can learn how to make goods to sell. This will provide much needed income for these women and their families.

    In a place with few opportunities, these programs and facilities are life changing! There is no public education funding in Haiti, little medical care and few opportunities for organized sports.  The school provides children with education that they previously could not access. The medical clinic provides physical and occupational therapy that was unheard of in the area. Sports give the children a fun and safe form of recreation and give them a chance to learn valuable leadership skills. All of these amazing programs are funded by donation.

    mission, international, Haiti, Christian

    How can you help?

  • Fil Your Soul is would love to have a building to house all of their materials and give the ladies a space to work. The cost would be $4,000. E-mail respiresharon@gmail.com if you are interested in donating.
  • Sponsor a student to attend school for $25/month or $300/year. Sign up here: http://www.respirehaiti.org/donate
  • Respire Haiti’s tennis club needs $500.00 per month to pay their coach, tournament fees, etc. They are also taking donations for tennis balls and overgrips. E-mail Nich Bergstrom if you are interested in supporting this wonderful program: bergstrom.nich@gmail.com
  • Respire Haiti’s soccer club is looking for financial partnerships and/or equipment donations. E-mail Josh@respirehaiti.org if you are interested in this valuable ministry.
  • Interested in going to Haiti and serving on a dental, medical or physical therapy team? E-mail respirehaiti@gmail.com for more information.
    Need more info? Check out Respire Haiti’s website for pictures and updates on their amazing programs: http://respirehaiti.org/

I can’t wait to see what this organization can do with your support!

 

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Get Unstuck! Turning From the Past and Moving Towards the Future

If you are in the midst of a challenging situation right now, you may thinking about the past and focusing on the good times you had. Even if there were plenty of difficult times in the past, we tend to glorify the “old days” forgetting about the struggles and only thinking about the good times. The past can also be a place of comfort. Even if things were bad, we knew what to expect. In our present circumstances, we may be facing a situation that we haven’t experienced before or we may be in a time of waiting. This can be an uncomfortable feeling and can cause us to go back to what is familiar, even if it was mostly bad. Being stuck in the past can prevent us from enjoying the future and appreciating all of the good things that are happening around us.

We aren’t the only ones who get stuck looking back when things get difficult. Humans have been doing this for thousands of years. In Exodus 16:3, the Israelites are complaining bitterly about their current situation. “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” (NLT) All of this complaining comes after they have seen the plagues that went through Egypt…after their firstborn were saved from death…after they were freed from their lives of slavery…after they witnessed the sea part so that they can walk through and after they have seen Pharaoh’s army destroyed.

Tips to help you stop looking back at the past so that you can focus on the good things that God has planned for you in the future! You don'g get anywhere walking in circles!

Instead of focusing on the things that they had in the present…their lives and their freedom, they were focused on the things in Egypt that they could remember being positive and forgetting about everything else. The whips…the straw…the taskmasters…the bricks. We do this when God moves us on from a place, a toxic relationship, a dead end job, etc. and when things get tough, instead of looking at all God has saved us from, we focus on the few good things about our previous situation and none of the bad things. We forget about the blessings that we have in the present and how God is guiding our steps forward towards even better things than we could imagine.

Unfortunately, we won’t get to experience those good things if we keep chasing after the bad things that he has already rescued us from. Instead, just like the Israelites, we will keep wandering around in circles. We can’t get to where God wants us to go if we are constantly turning around and going backwards. If you are in the midst of a challenging situation, instead of running back to the past, trust the God who brought you out of that and into the future. Keep walking forward with God and looking to the good things he has ahead for you.

 

 

 

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Our “Unstuffed” Weekend

Do you feel like your life is overflowing with stuff? Are your drawers and closets filled to the brim? Do you have trouble remembering if you have an item or finding it? If you are ready to get rid of the things you don’t need so that you can free up time to take care of only items you need and love, then, order Ruth Soukup’s book Unstuffed today! You can get it here (affiliate): Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul

One of the unique things about Unstuffed is the “weekend challenge.” The book goes step by step through how long to spend in each room, the best order of rooms to work on and how to decide what to keep and what to give or throw away. I have read many organizing books and this book has the most comprehensive step by step cleaning challenge of any book I have read.

The idea behind the weekend challenge is to get a big win right out of the gates. Once you have cleared out and organized a large portion of your stuff, the idea is that you will be excited to finish up the few projects you may not have gotten to during the weekend challenge. Most people will not be able to completely clean and organize their house in one weekend but when our family completed this challenge, we got much more done than I expected.

Is your house out of control? Do you have more stuff than you can take care of or more things than you need? Check out the weekend challenge from the book Unstuffed to get a jump start on Spring cleaning!

The weekend challenge consists of cleaning Friday night, all day Saturday and Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon and evening. It is A LOT of work! However, the results will be well worth it. Everyone in our family participated as the goal is for the family to work together as a team on this project. We went through every drawer, closet and surface in the rooms we cleaned. Anything that we didn’t love or use was either thrown away if it was worn out or given to Goodwill if it was still in good condition. At the end of the weekend, we had 4 truckloads of stuff to throw away or donate!

I am very sentimental and I thought I would have a hard time with throwing and/or giving so much stuff away. A verse that I had to keep reminding myself of is in Matthew 6:19 where it says, “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or-worse!-stolen by burglars.” (MSG)

As I was going through my belongings I realized that there are a lot of things that I’m not sentimental about and that I didn’t use or didn’t even remember that I had. Getting rid of these things will allow someone else to have the opportunity to use them. It also gives me plenty of space for the things I do use and enjoy seeing. For example, clearing off the things I didn’t need on the top of my cabinets in the kitchen, like a cake plate that wasn’t even mine, gave me space to display my grandmother’s punch bowl which I do love and use.

After this weekend, I adore how my house looks! Not only is it more open with so much of the clutter gone but I know that it is clean not just on the surface but even in every drawer and closet. I know what I have and can find things that I need easily. Becoming unstuffed has changed the atmosphere of our home for the better! Have you participated in the Unstuffed weekend challenge? I would love to hear your results!

Looking for more organizing or time management tips? Check out these articles:

http://www.lightnhope.com/drowning-in-receipts-organize-them-easily-with-this-simple-method/

http://www.lightnhope.com/from-hot-mess-to-happy-home-tackling-the-family-room/

http://www.lightnhope.com/have-a-more-productive-day-with-this-simple-tool/

The 15 Minutes That Will Change Your Day!

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My First Choice…

Like all good stories, this one starts at the beginning. The first choice I ever had that I knew would change the course of my life came when I was 17 years old and found out I was pregnant. It was the summer before my senior year of high school. No one would have expected it. I was an honors student, on the track and cross country teams at school, attended church every Sunday morning and youth group on Sunday and Wednesday nights. I went on mission trips and had lots of friends.

If you are a mama who woke up to the tear streamed face of your baby girl who just told you that she is having a baby, know that I am praying for you. “I’m pregnant.” is a sentence that will turn your world upside down. What about school? What about the baby’s dad? How will you afford financially to add another family member? What will your friends say? What will your daughter’s friends say? This isn’t how it is supposed to be. You imagined your daughter going to college, getting married and having a huge celebration as you told your friends and family about your new precious grandchild. If you are in this position right now, the best thing to offer your daughter is grace and wisdom. Your daughter will need to make wise choices from here on out to have the best outcome.  In James 1:6 the Bible tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” You and your family will need this wisdom to help you in the months and years to come.

If you are a teen who just found out you are pregnant or a parent who just found out your teen is pregnant, this article will give you questions to ask yourself as you think about whether adoption is right for your family. The choice that is made with wisdom and love may not be the easy choice will show itself to be the best choice.

The very first choice will be whether to keep the baby. A heavy choice for a teen whose previous choices were, “Should I wear the black dress with flowers or my cute jean shorts and red shirt?” At this point, any option you choose will be filled with difficulty and will be life changing. I am going to focus here on some of my thoughts regarding adoption vs. raising your child yourself. I know that some women will choose abortion but because of my faith, and the fact that I believe that a baby is a human being the moment it is conceived I am going to leave that option off the table for this discussion.

Adoption or Raising Your Child Yourself?

Here are some things to think about if you are considering adoption:

  • Are you ready to raise your child yourself (not with mom and dad getting up in the middle of the night and doing the hard work but you doing it day in and day out)?
  • Are you ready to become a responsible adult? Clearly you have made some less than responsible decisions if you are pregnant and a teen. However, that has to stop now. Adoption is the best option if you are not ready to act like a responsible adult who will choose to raise your child in a healthy way.
  • Are you willing to be set free from your addiction if you are addicted to alcohol or drugs? Your child does not deserve to grow up in a house where they are neglected because of substance abuse. There are plenty of places to get help but if you are not at the point where you are ready to own your addiction and seek help, then adoption is your best choice.

Here are some things to think about if you will raise your child yourself:

  • Are you willing to make your child and not yourself your focus? Every day, even when you are tired…sick…depressed…
  • Are you willing to do the work needed to make sure that your child is raised in a safe environment and is well taken care of?
  • How are you going to provide for your child?
  • Will you work?
  • Go to school?
  • Where will you live?
  • What do you need to do to prepare yourself for raising a baby -> toddler -> preschooler -> child -> teen?
  • How much family support do you have?
  • What is your relationship with the child’s father?

The choice I made was to keep my son and raise him myself. It has been a choice I have never regretted and I am happy to say that at age 19, he is doing well. He loves God, has friends and a sweet girlfriend, and is going to college to get a degree in business and computer science. If you are facing the difficult decision today about whether you will keep your baby or put your baby up for adoption, I will be praying for wisdom and peace for you and that the decision you make will be one that has been made with wise counsel from people that you trust, a long look into your heart about what sacrifices you are willing to make and a whole lot of prayer. There is no easy choice here but one that is made with wisdom and love will prove itself to be the best choice.

Click here for the first post in this series: http://www.lightnhope.com/there-is-no-easy-button-one-teen-moms-story-19-years-later/

 

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There is No Easy Button! One Teen Mom’s Story 19 Years Later…

How do some people thrive in the face of adversity and others crumble? Recently I have been reflecting on what it is we do to live our best life. What is different about those who succeed against all odds versus those who make one tragic decision after another? I think that a lot of it has to do with recognizing that there is no easy way through challenging circumstances. There is no “easy button.”

I have experienced this in my own life. Those closest to me (and now all of you) know that I had my first son when I was 17 years old. By the time I was 22, I was married with three sons. By the time I was 29, I was divorced. However, because of a lot of grace from God to get me back on the right path and willingness on my part to make hard choices that required a lot of effort, I managed to also get a Bachelor’s Degree in Molecular and Microbiology (by the age of 26) and a Masters Degree in Public Health (at age 31).

How is it that some people go through challenging circumstances and are defeated and some find success? It all depends on how hard you are willing to work when things get tough! Join me as I tell the story of how I went from teen mom to a mom with a graduate degree, full time job, three awesome kids and a wonderful husband (who is also a preacher). What the what?!

I got remarried at 31 years of age and my current husband is a preacher (which after looking at my past history is still something I find
amusing). We have been happily married for 5 years, I have a full time job (and have since I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree) and my three teen sons are happy and doing well. This all did not happen by accident. You don’t become a teen mom twice and end up with a graduate degree without some serious sacrifices. It also didn’t happen by luck or because I earned any special favor. What it took was a laser focus on what I needed to do in the present to optimize my chance of a successful future. Did I always make all the right choices? Obviously not. Do a few wrong choices relegate you to a life of misery and poverty? No, they most certainly do not. However, if you continue to string together a whole bunch of bad choices, it will be much more difficult to dig yourself out of the hole you are creating.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing more about how to make the choices that will help you to find the success you are looking for. Will it be easy? Nope. Here is the secret though. Nothing in life that is worthwhile comes from taking the easy way. Romans 12:2 says, “…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Join me as we discover a new way to think that will be life changing!

 

 

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Drowning in Receipts? Organize them Easily with this Simple Method!

I opened up a box filled with receipts for the last year and sighed. The entire year, each time I had balanced my checkbook I threw all of my receipts into a box. This way if I needed them because a product stopped working, a shirt I bought for one of my children didn’t fit or the bank had the item recorded incorrectly I would have physical proof of the purchase.

The problem with this method is that it becomes overwhelming during the first week of the New Year when I need to go through the hundreds of receipts I have in the box. At this point, I am looking at each one to make sure we didn’t buy an extended warranty for the item and that my entire bank account information isn’t on the receipt which means I need to shred it instead of just tossing it into the trash.

Use this easy method to organize your receipts! No more piles of receipts stuck everywhere and you will know right where to find them when you need them.

I am always looking for ways to simplify things and a couple of years ago, I saw on the Internet (I’m not sure which website) a method where you keep only 2 months worth of receipts at a time. Here’s how it works. First take 2 large mason jars and then put tags on each one. I used chalkboard tags and tied them on with twine but you could use any other kind of tag and tie it on with ribbon or just glue the tags on the jars. One tag says “current month” and one says, “previous month.” Each time I am finished with balancing my checkbook, I don’t even bother to look at the receipts. I just put all of the ones for the current month in the “current month” jar.

At the beginning of each month I go through all of the receipts in the “previous month” jar. I look for anything that might be a larger ticket item or anything we bought an extended warranty on. If you deduct business or charitable expenses on your taxes, you will want to make sure and keep these receipts as well. The receipts that need to be kept go into a file folder labeled, “receipts.” The rest of them get tossed in the trash or shredded. I then move the current months receipts into the “previous month” jar and start filling up the “current month” jar with the new month’s receipts.

This has saved me so much time because I am looking at my receipts each month instead of once per year. Then, in January, I can go through my “receipts” folder and instead of there being hundreds of receipts there are usually only a handful. This system has worked well for me for two years and is quick and easy to implement!

If you want to purchase any of the products needed to create this system, here are the links for what you will need. These are affiliate links.

   

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15 Unique Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 8. Do you know what you are getting your mom for this special day? Luckily, you have plenty of time to order or make something that your mom will love! Here are ideas for mom’s who like cooking, sports, photos, reading and everything in between!

Try this Mother’s Day Gift In A Jar from Hello Splendid. Fill with your favorite things and make it as budget friendly or extravagant as you would like!

Does your mom love bath products? Make this Lemon or Raspberry Lemon Sugar Scrub (or get crazy and make both)!

Here’s a great idea to pass along to a spouse.  Or you could make it for your mom with your kids. My sister made a salt dough ornament with my niece’s hand prints and foot prints and I love putting it on the tree every year at Christmas time. Get the directions here.

Cute and easy DIY Colorful Hand Dotted Tumblers can be painted in mom’s favorite colors!

For the jewelry loving mom, here are two gifts from The Vintage Pearl. My husband bought a bracelet for me for Christmas a year and a half ago and it looks like new today even after a lot of wear! Here is a link to order their Peas in a Pod Necklace with Names and their Secret Love Message Bangle that you can have made with a specified number of hearts on the outside and names of your loved one on the inside.

For moms that love photos, make these one of a kind DIY Personalized Photo Gifts.

For the plant loving mom here is a link to a Mother’s Day Etched Glass Terrarium. If you aren’t too sure about doing the etching yourself, you could always buy letter stickers at a craft store and stick on a sweet Mother’s Day message with them.

mothers day, mothers day gifts, gifts for mothers day

If you aren’t an artist but want to make a funky looking flower pot, check out this easy Rainbow Garden Painted Pots link.

Take a look at the first picture on the second row for an awesome 4 generations photo idea.

If your mom loves to sit down with a nice cup of hot tea, enhance her favorite tea bags with Scripture Tea Tag Printables. Just print and glue on the white tags that are already on the tea bag.

Got a mom who loves barre, dance or pilates class? Check out these Studio Skin Shoes from New balance. You can also purchase ballet flats to go over the Studio Skin so mom can go to lunch in style after her class.

Do you have a mom who loves to read and share her favorite books with others? Check out this Library Emobsser that can be personalized with mom’s name. Instead of writing her name on the cover she can make her mark in a pretty and unique way.

Here is a pretty and easy menu board that you can make for a mom who loves to cook dinner each night. Find a frame, pretty piece of scrapbook paper and letter stickers and you’re all set! Here are the directions for the Wipe Off Weekly Menu Board.

If you have a mom who loves Yankee candles, make this Yankee Candle Tart Bouquet.

Just think! Mother’s Day is still 4 weeks away and you will be ready for it this year with a special and unique gift just for mom! Let me know which one you chose or what gifts have been your favorites to give or receive for Mother’s Day!

 

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Keeping Your Eyes On Jesus During the Storms

Do you struggle with worry or anxiety? Do you feel like God is calling you to do something but when you start thinking about all of the possible struggles you might face, you lose your resolve? You are not the only one! The Bible is full of stories about people who trusted God and whose trust wavered. It is also full of stories of our God who never wavers even when we fail to trust Him. One of these stories in Matthew 14: 25-31 has to do with one of Jesus’ disciples named Peter. If you haven’t read this story in awhile, take a few moments to open up your Bible and read this story with fresh eyes!

Peter and friends are out on a boat and see a figure walking on water toward the boat they are in. Many on the boat think they are seeing a ghost but Peter hears Jesus’ voice and asks Jesus to tell him to come on the water if it is Him.

Bible, Jesus, Christianity, fear, anxiety

Let’s stop right here and think about this. How many times do we ask Jesus for a sign? We’ll say things like, “Lord, if this is your will please show me.”  Then Jesus does. He isn’t silent. We just need to ask. In this story, Jesus tells Peter to “Come.” Peter obeys and starts walking toward Jesus on the water. Did you catch that?! Peter is walking on the water too! He is doing an amazing thing that completely defies everything we think and know to be possible because he chose to trust and obey Jesus.

He does fine for a moment, I’m sure he is exhilarated that he is actually walking on the water and moving towards Jesus. How often do we do this? Jesus asks us to do something and we obey. We are excited at first. Things happen and begin falling into place that we never even thought would be possible.

However, life is not always easy. There will always be storms around us. Peter takes his eyes off of Jesus and sees the wind and becomes afraid. How often do we do this? We take just a moment to turn from Jesus and we start thinking of all of the things that can go wrong. We doubt for a moment that the God who is powerful enough to bring us out into the water is also powerful enough to help us stand through the wind. Then, we do as Peter did and we begin to sink.

Luckily for us, Jesus doesn’t let us go down into the depths. He reached his hand out to Peter and caught him and He does the same for us. Do you feel called by God to take an action but you’re wavering because of the storms around you? Keep your eyes on Jesus! Focus on Him and what He is asking you to do. The God who called you out of the boat will not let you sink.

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From Hot Mess to Happy Home: Tackling the Family Room

Are you ready to get your home whipped into shape this year? Last week we completed the first step which was going through your family room and deciding what parts were bugging you most. We chose the family room because that is where most families spend the a lot of time and it’s the room that guests usually see when visiting. To read the full article, check it out here: http://www.lightnhope.com/from-hot-mess-to-happy-home-your-plan-of-attack/

Now that you have your list of things that need decluttered or deep cleaned, I want you to rank your list. What is the easiest thing to clean? Rank this as your #1. Then, look over your list. #2 would be the item that will take the next longest and so on. Your hardest task should have the highest number beside it.Get your entire family room cleaned and organized in just 15 minutes each day! Take a look to see how.

Now this part is important! Each day this week, you are going to spend 15 minutes on your tasks. Start with #1. If you finish with your first task and still have time on the clock, begin working on your second task. If your timer goes off and you are in the middle of a task, it’s fine. Leave it as it is and pick up where you left off tomorrow.

Why 15 minutes? Well, most of the time the reason your house has gotten out of control is because 1. You hate cleaning and/or organizing. 2. You don’t have time to clean. Even if you hate cleaning you can do it for 15 minutes at a time! Having a plan for what to clean and knowing that you only have to focus on the task for 15 minutes each day will help you stay motivated to work on getting your space looking the way you want it. Also, if you are super busy (as we all are) you can squeeze in 15 minutes to do this! Even if it needs to be first thing in the morning or later at night after the kids go to bed, you can find 15 minutes.

Just think! At the end of a week, you will have worked on your family room for a total of 1 hour 45 minutes. You will be amazed at how much you are able to accomplish in this amount of time! Need cleaning supplies? I tried Mrs. Meyer’s disinfectant spray for the first time last week. It is amazing! If you want your house to smell fresh and clean, be sure and try it out. Here is a link to purchase it. This is an affiliate link for a product that I use and love!

Send me pics of your family room and what you have accomplished in the past week! I can’t wait to see them!

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Have a More Productive Day with this Simple Tool!

Do you want to get more done each day? Do you need to stay more focused on the tasks that matter? The best tool I have seen for doing this is a timer. I used to think that using a timer was for making sure that dinner didn’t come out a charred mess and seeing how fast you could run on a track. However, using a timer can help your entire day be more productive. Here at Light N Hope, our goal is to show you ways you can make your life easier and happier using strategies that take only 15 minutes each. Why 15 minutes? Most of us can find 15 minutes in our day to work on something that will increase our overall well-being. Plus if you are working on something that may not be your favorite thing (hello, organizing your junk drawer), 15 minutes is long enough to make progress but not long enough to prevent you from beginning the task in the first place.

What are some benefits of using a timer?Do you want to be more productive? To spend your day working efficiently on the tasks you need to accomplish! Check out how one simple tool can dramatically increase your productivity!

  • Not losing track of time: How many times have you sat down for a 15 minute break to look at Facebook and 2 hours later you realized that you were still scrolling through everyone’s posts.
  • Making it to appointments on time: If you know that it is going to take you 30 minutes to get ready and 15 minutes to drive to your appointment, set you timer for an hour before you need to be there. This gives you time to get ready and time to drive with a built in 15 minutes in case anything doesn’t go as planned. For more on giving yourself a 15 minute buffer around activities check out my post, The 15 Minutes That Will Change Your Day!
  • Working faster: If you know that you are only giving yourself an hour to complete a project at work or to clean your house, you will work more quickly if you have a deadline. Having a definite beginning and ending time will cause you to work swiftly to get everything completed during that time frame.
  • Seeing how long things really take: If you think you could get your laundry folded and put away in 10 minutes and it takes 20 minutes you will know next time that you need to plan more time for this activity. This way you don’t pack more into a day than you could possibly accomplish.
  • Realistically schedule your day: When you know how long tasks take, it is much easier to create a schedule for yourself that is realistic. You will know that planning to go on a play date with your 3 year old, wash, dry and fold 5 loads of laundry, clean the kitchen, organize the hall closet, go grocery shopping and make a homemade dinner is not all going to happen in one day. When we have an unrealistic amount of tasks planned that we couldn’t possibly accomplish in one day we end the day feeling defeated when really we didn’t have any chance of getting all of those things done in the first place.

Many cell phones have a timer feature available. If you prefer one that isn’t tied to your cell phone, here is an option that lets you time up to four different things at once.

(affiliate)

If you don’t use a timer, get one today and have a more productive week! Let me know how it goes!

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