March 2021

March 31, 2021

How to Stop Wasting Time: Perspective

Stop for just a second and ask yourself: what is a week of your life actually worth?

We only have 4,452 weeks from the moment we’re born until our 85th birthday (if we’re given that many years).

Just…let that sink in. We have fewer than 5k weeks in an entire (generous) lifespan, and yet, sometimes we just let a “bad” or “off” week (or several) slip away without seriously evaluating underlying causes and lessons we could be learning.

Now, don’t misunderstand: sometimes a week that’s way more heavy on rest, fun, or flexibility is needed. Sometimes, crises (internal and external) endow a week with a heavenly purpose that we cannot immediately grasp from our point of view in the moment.

But are we really grasping that there are only 936 weeks from the moment our child takes her first breath to the day she’s graduating highschool? That we have only 156 weeks we get to invest into the hungry mind of our toddler before his little brain networks solidify? That in just 520 weeks an entire decade of marriage is in the books? 

Are we really grasping the fact that this upcoming week is either laying another brick in the foundations of the future we’re called to help build—or that it’s stuffing the foundations with wood, hay, and stubble, and all manner of things that (thankfully) will not last in the refining fires of God’s redemption?

How quickly the weeks just tick away on our calendars.

This post is in no way designed to inspire fear: we cannot attack time with a death grip and try to slow it down or expect it to develop our personal histories exactly as we wish. However, we are called to accept the reality that time is the most precious resource we are called to steward. Unlike money or energy (two things we tend to be wayyyy more careful about spending), time is not renewable. A week that passes can never be brought back again. This week, once lived, becomes part of our personal (and family) history.

While we have eternity in Christ to explore His creation, expressing ourselves creatively as an amen to His Image in us, and basking in the goodness of communion with and in Him—our time on this side of glory is much more limited (and yet endowed with eternal purpose).

We have a finite number of weeks to walk the earth and advance the oasis of Christ’s joy into the desert, to invest rare love into hungry hearts, and to respond to temporal needs with creativity. We have a finite number of weeks to advance the cause of Christ to a world in such desperate need of His mercies.

In our modern world, being “short on time” seems to be an unquestioned constant. But we are not any shorter on time than in any other era of history. Instead, our life expectancy is better than it’s been for millennia. Our homes and garages are stocked with machines that save so much time that it would absolutely boggle the minds of our ancestors. Speed of transportation is unprecedented, and speed of communication is immediate.

Our problem is not a shortness of time, but a confusion of our priorities. 

Evaluating Your Time Exercise & Worksheet

Take some time to journal through the following questions & complete this worksheet.

  • How exactly are you investing our weeks?
  • If we were to map out an average week, what areas of life get most of our attention?
  • Is our schedule packed to the gills with extra drive time?
  • Are we devoting the majority of our time dropping everything and responding to the boundary-less “emergencies” of others?
  • Does mindless scrolling get the best hours of our week?
  • Are our current priorities, events, projects, screentime activities and conversations worth the precious time out of our week that they’re claiming?
  • Are more important things consistently being de-prioritized in response to the tyranny of the urgent, digital distractions, or a reactive lifestyle that’s been slapped together haphazardly?

It can be difficult to honestly evaluate how we have spent our time, but it can also be the exact catalyst needed to make us make the necessary changes. How you spend your moments is how you spend your life. Make sure you’re truly making space to thrive.


Are you ready to launch into an entirely new way of planning? We created the Evergreen Planner System because we needed a tool that would help us use the time we’ve been given intentionally, and it has become something we can’t live without. The Getting Started Kit is the perfect way to try two of our core products – the Annual and the Monthly. Don’t wait until we launch our next subscription box – get the tools you need today!

March 24, 2021

How to Get Back Up Again

“Uh oh, Elizabeth, be careful. You’re sloshing it out.”

My four year old stops her stirring for a second, processing my words. She sees where a small puddle of batter is now splatted on the counter top. She adjusts her grip, and then begins to mix again, slower this time.

“It’s okay, Mom.” She says in a confident tone. Then under her breath, more to herself than to me, “It’s all a part of learning.

I’m pretty sure she got that phrase from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and I’m completely in love with it.

God seems to endow little kids with a strong growth mindset to sustain them through all the little challenges of growing up. They fall a hundred times learning to walk, but giggle right through it, jump back up, and try again. All the while, their little muscles are getting stronger, their coordination is improving, and they’re getting the hang of how to balance themselves to keep moving towards their target despite environmental variables.

Having a growth mindset is vital to sustaining an intentional lifestyle, because making mistakes is a vital part of the process.

And yet, as adults, we so often get annoyed at the process.

  • We expect to go from inexperienced and naive to total masters of a new skill in one day.
  • We expect ourselves to navigate unknown terrain with perfect foresight and preparedness.
  • We expect ourselves to never, ever, trip or fall while we learn to balance determination with flexibility.

Have you ever watched a baby try to walk a few times, and then, before he masters it, he suddenly falls to his knees and crawls over to his snacks and sippy cup to take a breather? He seems perfectly satisfied in having done his “learning to walk exercises,” spending the rest of the day playing toys, napping, and crawling around to get from one destination to the other. He’s letting those around him who do know how to walk inspire him to believe that walking is possible (and even ideal!), but he’s also usually pretty content with the process. He doesn’t ignore his hunger and sleeping cues to hustle to master the new skill because he thinks it’ll make everything better. He doesn’t neglect his relationships, or forget to nourish himself in other ways (through playing toys or getting snuggles). In fact, he thrives on the celebration of every step that he does take, takes satisfaction in the positive effort, and goes on about his day until it’s time to go at it again.

And once he does figure out how to walk, he’s not immediately depressed that he doesn’t know how to run. He just practices walking faster and faster until he gains that skill, too. Walking, running, climbing, eating, going potty, building, opening, learning boundaries, socializing, talking, counting, and reading are just a few of the things a child has to master in the first few years of their lives. Their natural growth mindset turns all of these complex tasks into the grand adventures of childhood. They have fun, take satisfaction in the process, stay fully present with others, and prioritize self-care (such as eating and sleeping). And when they do get frustrated, and the part of their human nature that loathes mistakes begins to kick in, healthy adults come alongside the children to assure them that the errors are all a part of learning.

Without a growth mindset, it’s all too easy to become way too hard on yourself (and others), hustling non-stop to try to “make up for” hundreds of non-essential things that “need” to be perfected before you can be satisfied in your work. But if you never can come to an emotional stopping point, then you can never truly rest. If you can never rest, then you can never celebrate your own milestones or enjoy the fruit of your labor. Your life becomes a nonstop grind with the goal of trying to outrun your inadequacies.

This puts you on the fast track to burnout. Burnout is a headspace where meaningful productivity is virtually impossible. It’s also a very low state, physically. Getting out of bed itself becomes a challenge (let alone producing excellence in your work). 

A growth mindset creates space for progress, while a “fixed” mindset expects spotless perfection right out of the gate.

When you have a fixed mindset and run into a mess, you tend to be completely closed off emotionally to the process of bringing order out of chaos, skill out of naïveté, and maturity out of inexperience. You either get overwhelmed and quit at the gate, or you try to sprint your way through the marathon and end up too tired (burned out) to finish.

You neglect good nutrition and exercise, sleep, and relationships in the name of crushing your goals. Your time fills up with busywork, fiddling with perfectionism. You aren’t respecting creaturely limits, so you aren’t disciplining yourself to find creative ways to be more effective. You see the process as the enemy, so every failure and setback takes a toll on you emotionally.

The adventurous air of new goals and projects wear off extremely fast, leaving you to feel overwhelmed and caught between the decision to sprint or quit. So how do you return the spirit of adventure to your goals and embrace the process?

By adopting the 4yo’s phrase, in the face of mistakes, errors, and uncertainty: It’s all a part of learning.

So what does this mean practically for your life?

  • Are you still struggling to adjust to the ways Covid has forced lifestyle changes? Is uncertainty getting at you? Take a deep breath. Get still, get real, get organized, and recognize that the uncertainty is all a part of learning.
  • Are you making one mistake after another in your attempts to refine your home rhythms? Does it feel like every day exposes a weak part of your routine? Getting into good rhythms is a process. Take a deep breath. Get still, consider the pain points, brainstorm solutions, and recognize that missteps are all a part of learning.
  • Is perfectionism keeping you from really finishing that really important domino project (like decluttering your home, or getting your papers organized)? Take a deep breath. Get still, get reconnected with your why, and recognize that putting progress over perfection is all a part of learning.
  • Is your exercise program causing more stress than it’s worth, or never getting done because it’s so unappealing? Take a deep breath, and research a more fun way to get your movement in. Recognize that pivoting from the original plan when something better becomes clear is all a part of learning.

It’s all a part of learning. So pause, evaluate, pivot, and move on. You can choose to do so with a cheerful attitude.

Take your own mistakes in joyful stride because errors are simply an opportunity to grow.

When you’re in this headspace regarding the process that it takes to accomplish your goals, you model a growth mindset for others (especially your children and those closest to you). You tend to be more gracious with others as well. And you have the sustained energy to get your goals through milestone after milestone. Radical, positive change happens. Possibilities unfold everywhere. And that is the addictive part of the process.

Keep going, friend.

It’s all a part of learning.


Are you interested in trying a piece of the Evergreen Planner system for free? Check out this free printable day planner sheet! You can use this printable to effectively plan your days until you’re ready to jump into the entire Evergreen Planner system.

March 17, 2021

Understanding Social Energy & Communication Styles

​Last week, we wrote about productivity personalities, how to feed strengths and compensate for weaknesses, and how these ideas have played out in our Evergreen Team dynamics. In this post, we’re going to look at social energy and communication styles, and the ways doing all this work around who you are and who you’re working with can help you work more compassionately and productively as an individual and on a team.

Social Energy

Way more popular than productivity personalities, is diving into the concept of being “introverted” vs “extroverted.”

Once Shelby realized that she is an extraverted worker, everything changed. At first, she was thrilled at the prospect of working completely alone. The work she was doing at the time was extremely intellectually stimulating, and was exactly the kind of material she’d hide in the closet for hours on end to enjoy in silence.

But after weeks of focusing alone on a project, she felt like she was going insane. Even with plenty of socializing outside of work, it wasn’t enough. Working alone was miserable. ​

Then, during an inner work journaling exercise something she wrote down hit her like a lightning bolt: if working alone was not life-giving, why not set a boundary to no longer accept projects that would have her alone for hours and hours on end? Why not prioritize work that would connect her with an energizing team?

It was a pivotal moment for Shelby and paved the way for a series of decisions that ultimately resulted in the Evergreen Planner finally getting what it needed to flourish.

So ask yourself: Do you get your energy from working primarily alone or in a team? How can you choose a new path that energizes you instead of one that depletes you?

Communication Styles

Whether you are energized by working solo or in a team, you’ll always need to communicate with others.

It really helps to understand that there are two types of communicators:

  • The external processor needs to talk it out (or write it out) in order to process something. She will work through issues best during a conversation, and often times the position that she seems to be taking dogmatically at the beginning actually evolves during the conversation, and by the end, can be radically different. This can be very confusing to others, but it’s just because very little processing of information (which is where the consideration of different perspectives, the reasoning, the prioritizing, and the negotiating come into play) happened before the conversation was ever had.
  • The internal processor operates, in many respects, in just the opposite way. She will be very hesitant to make a decision or give feedback on an idea without first being able to take time alone to think and process. Overall, her communication may seem minimal, which can be confusing to others who want immediate feedback on an idea or project. Her silence may be perceived as negative feedback, when really it is just her hesitancy in offering any opinion before she has considered every angle in silence and solitude.

Ask yourself: Which one resonates most with you? Are you an internal or external processor?

Like most things, being an external or internal processor has it’s strengths and weaknesses. However, there are specific practices and habits that can help you both honor who you have been made to be, while also honoring the needs of others who are different from you.

  • If you’re an external processor (like Shelby), a trick to stop confusing others or making conflicts worse is to journal out your thought processes before engaging in conversation. Writing can be just as effective as talking something out, but it will help you to objectively look at your own reasoning before someone else has to call you on your own inconsistencies. An effective journaling habit will make your communications with others much more efficient, effective, and persuasive. However, because talking it out is often easier and more enjoyable, it also helps to designate certain (willing) people in your life to be the recipients of your brainstorming sessions. Tell them in advance that you’re calling them specifically to bounce ideas off of them, talk through a problem, or just get thoughts out of your brain where they’re clogging everything up.
  • If you’re an internal processor (like McCauley), a key to avoiding frustration with others is to give them the assurance that you’re thinking over the things they’ve brought up and that you will get back to them with a conclusion. Then give yourself space to think through the issues in silence. You don’t have to answer them in that moment, even if they’re pressuring you to. You don’t have to go against your gut if you really just need the time to process alone before making a decision. However, keep yourself accountable to doing the work needed to be able to give the feedback that others need from you in a timeline that makes sense for the project or decision. Communicate when they can expect an answer from you.

Do the Inner Work

It can take some journaling and discussions with loved ones in order to figure out some of these things for yourself, but it’s worth the effort.

When you bring other personality dynamics to the table, the discussions for how to understand and mutually support one another deepen in complexity. But we’ve found these musings and discussions to be exceedingly fruitful in our homes, our businesses, and in our communities.

Try pulling out your planner and journaling through these questions:

  • Are you an extravert in your work, or an introvert? Do you need to spend time with a team in order to be energized? Or do you need to make sure you’re getting a lot of time to work alone?
  • Are you an external or an internal processor? What about your spouse? Your closest coworker? How can you support them better in their communication needs?
  • Are you okay with leaning into who God uniquely made you to be? Do you think it’s better to have different personality traits? Why or why not? Are you open to the idea that, as long as you’re within God’s ethical guidelines, your unique working personality is actually a specifically designed blessing for His Kingdom?


Don’t forget that in addition to taking time to work through the above questions, we also offer an incredibly simple quiz to help you determine your productivity personality!

March 10, 2021

Do You Know Your Productivity Personality?

Despite ourselves, we are pretty big fans of personality research. I think both of us have tried to quit the whole personality-test scene about a dozen times, but we keep coming back to it.​

Truth is, we know that God loves diversity, and has built it into His Creation in some pretty astonishing ways. One of the most interesting, delightful, and sometimes confounding ways is the diversity of human personalities.

Within the boundaries of healthy ethics is a vast array of valid differences in which individuals perceive, engage, and respond to the world around them. Observing these differences, naming and cataloguing them, and then discussing them in light of God’s Word is work that seems to fall along the same lines as what Adam started doing with the animals in the garden. Only, unlike animals, God has put eternity in our hearts, and so our psyche is impossible for humans to fully comprehend and define. But to us, that truth only serves to magnify the intrigue of personality science. So we keep on discussing all of these significant differences in order to cultivate understanding, cooperation, and fruitfulness across the board.

We also research these things in order to better understand our own tendencies, identify any needs we’ve been ignoring, address personal weaknesses, tap into our core motivations, and better leverage our strengths.

Just like learning your top Love Languages can help you build into your marriage, or pegging Enneagram numbers can help you better respect your friends, learning your Productivity Personality can really help you begin to develop the most effective conditions in your home, office, and team systems for getting things done.

Working Personality

In his immensely practical book, The Synergist, Les McKeown outlines three types of people on your average working team:

  • the Visionary: this is the person who is constantly imagining ways to get to the next level
  • the Operator: this is the person who is consistently getting things done
  • the Processor: this is the person who obsesses over the systems that make everything work sustainably

Most of us have a dominant trait, and then a secondary one. And, like anything else, every type has strengths and weaknesses.

For instance, Shelby is a Visionary-Processor. She is always seeing the bigger picture, and then feeling the urge to create some kind of list or calendar or habit to get the team from A-Z. The problem is, all the ideas and systems she produces aren’t always super realistic without a lot of healthy feedback to tame them into something doable. It’s also easy for her to feel irritated that the letters B-Y are full of a lot of minutiae that distract from the initial burst of inspiration or the ending triumph of accomplishment.

McCauley is an Operator-Visionary. Getting stuff done and then dreaming about the next big goal are both her native language, but she can often feel overwhelmed by not being able to see how everything is working together to a single strong end. She never questions the amazing possibilities, but she does tend to tame Shelby’s chomping-at-the-bit to up-level with the same serious question: “But have you finished this other vital task?”

McKeown’s book urges the reader to identify their own working personality and the personalities of the other influential people on their team, and to understand the various strengths and weaknesses, and the ways that each personality can clash. The goal of all of this inner-work is to become what he calls a Synergist: someone who is realistic about the team’s dynamics, can patch personality holes when hiring, can work to resolve conflict, and can weave the team’s various strengths into a singularly powerful force.

After Shelby read this book in 2019 and we examined the Evergreen team dynamics, we began praying that we could find a Processor-Operator to join the team. We knew that pulling another Visionary on the team could serve to drown out McCauley’s common-sense approach that wanted to see the results that come from consistency before jumping into a new strategy. We also knew that my hankering for organization and sustainability would solve the overwhelm problem—so long as the systems we created were actually practical. We also knew that a mere Processor (without an Operator wing) would bog us down a bit too much with systems, without having that can-do, problem-solving spirit that our tiny startup needed from every single member on our founding team.

Not too long after, Shelby was having a conversation with Clari at a family reunion (fun fact: she’s my husband’s cousin by marriage), and she mentioned that she was a Virtual Assistant. Something was seriously clicking. After an interview and trial run, we quickly realized that she was the Processor-Operator we’d been praying for.

Knowing your working personality is useful for so much beyond just hiring. It can be useful in any working relationship. Knowing that McCauley is an Operator has helped Shelby make sure that she included progress updates in team meetings. Knowing that Shelby is a Visionary has helped McCauley understand that Shelby’s not flaking out on the here and now—but that she’s hardwired to be envisioning what’s next. She also has learned that I’m a well of ideas that can be tapped at any time with a single question—and McCauley is always there to help Shelby prioritize the next best idea.

Knowing your working personality can also help you identify your personal weaknesses so that you can stop spinning your wheels.

Shelby was able to identify that she didn’t have many Operator tendencies. This meant that while she was a natural at reverse-engineering huge goals, it was really tempting for her to try to skip the consistent effort necessary to turn those goals into a reality. So she started to create planning habits that helped her focus on action over more strategizing. She started to use her planner to record “tada lists” (things that I got done) instead of just todo lists, as a way to spur herself into doing what she knew was needed. She also started to be honest about her tendencies to procrastinate follow-up and project completion, to eliminate distractions that limited significant progress, and to reach out to others for accountability.

But even while building these essential habits, Shelby also fed her inner Visionary-Processor by listening to podcasts that stretched her imagination, externally-processing dreams with certain designated people, and giving herself permission to flesh out new ideas for the future when the time was right.

So how about you? Take this incredibly simple quiz to gain more insight on your productivity personality.

Then, take time to journal through the following prompts:

  • How can you mitigate weaknesses through intentional planning habits?
  • How can you feed your strengths?
  • What strengths does your team have? Who do you need to hire?


Today is the last day to purchase our Q2 subscription box! We ship our sub boxes four times a year and they contain 3 Monthly booklets along with curated planning accessories. The Monthly is the muscle of our planning system. It’s a five-week undated day planner featuring week spreads, habit trackers, timeblocked day pages, and plenty of bullet grid flex space to make the planner completely yours. We can’t wait to see what you do with the right tools in hand!