Two Questions You Need to Ask If You Want to Make the Most of Your Life

Make the Most of Your Mornings

I am a part time (2 nights/week) RN, and a full time wife & mommy! :) On my days off, I attempt to live a “normal day shift” life. Any tips to get the most out of my mornings? -Andrea

This is such a great question, Andrea! And I think that my answer will be one that can apply to anyone who is wanting to make the most of their mornings.

As you consider and work on being intentional with your mornings, I encourage you to ask yourself two questions:

1. What do I need to do?

Think about what you must do in the morning. Or what you really should do. :)

Things like cleaning up, pulling something out of the freezer for dinner, organizing, laundry, bill-paying, phone calls, and errands.

Also, consider what you need to do to stay refreshed and energized. You might feel like this is not truly a need. But I believe it is.

Why? Because if you just keeping going, going, going and never stop to refuel your personal “tank”, you’ll soon be running on empty. And you can continue to try to press forward and live on fumes, but you’ll soon find that you are completely drained and lifeless.

So yes, it is a need to make time to refresh yourself. It’s not selfish. It’s something that needs to be high on the priority list.

Making time to recharge your batteries will make you more productive, more efficient, and more energetic. This, in turn, will cause you to be a better wife, mom, and employee. Plus, you’ll just enjoy life more.

Take some time to think through what energizes you. Maybe that’s taking a nap, reading, savoring quiet and a cup of coffee, decorating, crafting, cooking, spending time with friends, exercising, gardening… find at least a few things to include on your days off that will refuel your tank.

Practically Speaking

Once you’ve determined what you need to do every morning, create a morning routine based upon these things. For more help in creating a morning routine, check out this post on How to Develop a Morning Routine. I’d include 5-7 items on your morning routine list and make them a mix of things you must do and things that will refuel your tank.

Commit to following through with this morning routine every single “off-day” morning for the next three weeks. Ask a friend or two to help you stay accountable so that you stick with this commitment.

How to make the most of your mornings

2. What do I want to do?

Once you’ve determined what you need to do and create your morning routine based upon this, then comes the much more fun part. Ask yourself: what do I want to do?

Take a pen and paper and start writing down anything that comes to your mind in answer to this question: re-decorating your living room, learning how to blog, investing in your elderly neighbor, taking a wood-working class, learning a foreign language, teaching a skill to your child, trying out a new grocery store. Whatever comes to your mind, write it down.

Then, take this long list and pick your top five priorities off the list. The top five most pressing things you want to tackle first or those that will make the greatest impact on your life. If five sounds overwhelming or like too much, start with 2-3.

Look at your list of these few priorities and think how can I make a little slow and steady progress each week to help me get where I want to be next year?

Start mapping out what this looks like for the next few weeks. For instance, if you want to learn a foreign language, find a 30-minute block on your off mornings that you can focus on taking an online foreign language course. Or if you want to teach your toddler a new skill, set aside 15 minutes early in the morning once your morning routine is done and they are up and dressed to work on this skill.

It’s amazing how 15 or 30 minutes of focused effort a few times per week can really start to add up to progress on our goals!

I encourage to work on your list of priorities right after you finish your morning routine. If you don’t do it first thing, there’s a good chance it won’t get done. In addition, it will make you feel fulfilled and more productive the rest of the day. So just do it!

Practically Speaking

You might find it helpful to assign themes to the days you’re off work. Maybe one day is your errands day, one day is your baking/cooking day, and one day is your extra projects day.

I also encourage you to try to have at least one day where you stay at home all day. For me, at least, there’s something very refreshing about a quiet day at home. And not only that, but I find that it helps me to be more productive if I have at least one day where I’m not running around doing different things but instead can focus on projects at home.

What advice and suggestions do the rest of you have for Andrea? Share them in the comments!

photo credit; photo credit

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Rise & Shine Challenge: Day 8 {How to add more fun into your day!}

Rise & Shine Challenge

Thank you so much for your kind words on last night’s post. I hope to get to respond to each one personally, but until then, know that you blessed, uplifted, and encouraged me so very much!

It’s the last day of our Rise & Shine Challenge (since I skipped the weekend posts!). Can you believe it??

This challenge has been good for me and I’ve definitely learned from it. One of the things I think I may have taken away from it is that 4:30 a.m. is too early for me to consistently get up. I know that my body needs at least 7 hours of sleep every night and I’ve made it a big priority to get that amount of sleep (or more!) at least 5-6 nights per week.

But that means I have to go to bed by 9 p.m. and I’m finding that’s really hard to consistently make happen at this season of life. So I may just need to re-arrange some things in the schedule and shoot for 5:30 a.m. instead. That seems to be a better time for me so I think I’m going to stick with 5:30 a.m. for the next few weeks and then re-evaluate.

In addition, I learned that it’s hard to break bad habits. Slipping over the summer and letting myself go to bed so late and then get up late was a difficult habit to break. And it encouraged me to be more intentional about not slipping into bad habits like that again.

I’m thrilled that I feel like this challenge has been the jump start I needed to get back into the early-to-bed, early-to-rise mode. Overall, I’ve been much more productive, feeling more rested, and remembering why I used to love getting up early so much!

How to Be a Fun Mom

Today’s Rise & Shine Challenge Assignment

Today’s challenge is to focus on bringing back the fun into your mornings. This is such a good reminder — and something I need to work on as I tend to be more of a focused mom than a fun mom.

Some ideas I had were:

  • Starting the morning with lively music.
  • Watching a short YouTube clip in the morning that makes us all laugh.
  • Cracking a joke or teasing a family member about something (provided they enjoy being teased!)
  • Singing while we do our morning chores.
  • Being intentional about smiling more.
  • Planning a special breakfast.

What would you add to my list?

This Morning’s Report

  • Got up at 5:30 a.m.
  • Read my Bible, prayed, read a few devotions from two other books.
  • Made some coffee, checked email, and scheduled some posts and Facebook posts. Answered more comments and emails.
  • Write a few posts for today. Then, I exercised, showered, and got dressed.
  • Switched the laundry and took the big pile of clean laundry out to the living room couch to fold later this morning.
  • And then it was time to start in on our homeschooling for the day!

How was your morning? What ideas do you have for adding more fun into your mornings? What have you learned from this challenge?

photo credit

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What are your most creative income-earning ideas?

One of the parts of my next book that I’m especially excited about is that I’ll not just be sharing how to start earning some additional income, but will be giving you a plethora of ideas of businesses you could start or ways to earn additional income.

I have put together a long list of ideas that I’ll be sharing in the book, but I’m positively certain that you all have some great ideas I’ve not thought of or wouldn’t come up with on my own.

So, I’d love to hear: What are your most creative income-earning ideas? I’d love to hear your input of things you’ve done successfully, know others who have done successfully, or just think would be a brilliant idea for someone to do. I’m especially looking for ideas that don’t require a significant amount of money to start.

Share your ideas in the comments or email them to me (crystal @ Thanks so much!

Note: Comments left on this post or emailed in may be published in the book. If you’d prefer that we don’t publish your comment or email or that it’s anonymous, please mention this in your comment or email.

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We Paid Cash: A New-to-Us Car

We paid cash!

A testimony from Victoria

With 2 young boys, our growing family wanted a bigger vehicle. It was complicated trying to pack 2 boys, 2 carseats, a stroller, and all the bags that go with young children into the trunk of a car!

I wasn’t ready for a minivan, and neither was my husband, so we began searching for an SUV with a third row.

Finding something in our price range was extremely difficult, but after a few months of searching, we found a vehicle that we loved. It did have more miles on it than what we wanted, but the price was right!


We were able to pay cash for this vehicle, while still maintaining a healthy emergency fund because my husband sold his beloved four-wheeler, and we put our entire 2013 tax refund towards the vehicle. We also got a nice trade-in value for our car, which helped a lot.

Helpful Hint: I suggest trading-in over selling privately. When you trade in, the trade in value comes off the purchase price of the car, therefore you pay much less tax!

Because we saved so much by paying cash and because the vehicle did have over 100,000 miles on it, we were also able to pay cash for a 4-year, bumper to bumper warranty. We hope this will also save us money some day!

Victoria is a wife and mother to two busy boys! She also works full-time as a mission trip coordinator for a non-profit in Indiana (best job in the world!). In her spare time she enjoys running, camping, and attempting to re-decorate her home.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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