Have you ever had this experience? You dive deep into goal setting, chart out a strong schedule, and then start to work the plan.
But then, dun, dun, dunnn.
And after several weeks, you start to realize a lot has changed since you laid your plans, and you’re really making only like 20% of the changes you’d planned to make!
This phenomenon is especially true for goal-oriented mamas. We might be as determined and diligent as the sky is blue, but our kids are always rolling into new phases of need, surprising us with the twists and turns of their own growth journeys, and presenting regular challenges to the best laid plans.
So what’s the point of reverse-engineering goals and setting intentions? Why bother to sketch out your ideal day in a time-blocking planner if you know things will change?
Because even if things change, making a plan is still the bridge between the life you’re living now and the life you want.
Here’s how it works.
Your planner shows you what’s realistic.
How many times have you sat down to write a todo list for the day that was—let’s be honest—a total pipe dream? Been there, done that.
Our timeblocked planner equips you with a canvas that guides you to paint a realistic picture with your time.
You write down when you’ll wake up, when you’ll be going to bed. Then you block in things like meal times, kids’ naptimes, homeschooling blocks, quiet time, and time with honey.
Then you can see the ideal pockets of time for shallow administrative work like cleaning the house, making appointments, or answering DMs. But most importantly, you can spot the best times to carve out deep work blocks where you can give 90% or more of your focus to your most important projects.
Then you pad all of this with ample margin. (Think of margin like the lubricant for your schedule. It allows you to breathe and be able to shift things around when needed without stripping any gears.)
When you have a realistic plan that actually can fit in the containers of time that you have available, if something changes, you can just take a minute to rearrange the blocks and pivot with intention, knowing that your bases are covered.
Your planner gives you a platform for seeing how your aspirations might play out in real-time, making your intuition smarter with data.
This is especially important for making progress on huge goals.
You’ve got to be able to imagine how your intentions can play out in the landscape of your lived reality.
Have you ever heard of productivity expert Cal Newport? The man is a raving genius. He teaches all about the vital importance of carving out time for deep work if you want to move the needle forward on the things that matter most. But his advice is tailored to a demographic with dedicated work hours in an office.
When you’re a work from home mama—especially if the kids are home for school—you should still be scheduling in solid deep work blocks.
But let’s face it. You’re gonna need a Plan B in your arsenal for when the 9yo has a nosebleed all over his remote schooling laptop right smack in the middle of your recording session, or for when the kids wake you up three times and the 5am hustle just doesn’t happen.
This is part of why starting out with a realistic plan (with lots of margin) is vital. As work from home mamas, we need a realistic plan, a working memory for what needs to happen next in our goals, and an informed intuition to guide us when we pivot our projects around the adventure that is motherhood.
Our planner gives us a visual guide to all the data we need to become experts on our own priorities.
Your planner cultivates a working memory.
You may expect your brain to just automatically click into gear every time you wake up to greet the day, or sit down at your desk to knock out important projects.
But what happens naturally is that you end up neglecting the 20% of what you could be doing to really move the needle forward on your goals because you somehow defaulted to buzzing around in the 80% of non-essential activity.
This is because, most of the time, the work you need to do to make serious progress is hard work. It’s mentally taxing, and probably pretty overwhelming.
Your brain looks at it and balks, searching wildly for any out. I’d hoped to make progress on my book, but… look, my inbox needs organizing. Don’t mind if I do! Oh, I should post something on instagram stories since my laptop and coffee cup look so cute on my desk. Heyyyy… she’s live right now… I’ve been wanting to catch one of her lives… And boom! Before we know it, naptime is over, and we’re wondering where the time went.
As difficult as it may seem to fight distractions in this modern digital age, it’s actually very simple to overcome the constant temptation toward low-quality activity.
In addition to having strong attention protection habits (such as turning most of the notifications off on your phone), you must cultivate a strong working memory so that every time you arrive at an opportunity to make progress, you can immediately seize that opportunity by prioritizing the next best thing with expert precision.
Cultivating a strong working memory is as simple as using your planner on a daily basis. It takes a little bit of time to get into the swing of it, but once you’ve gotten real about how much time you have and the responsibilities on your plate, and you’ve developed goals that deeply compel you forward, then you can begin to use your planner to break down those responsibilities and goals into milestones.
Once you have the big picture sectioned out into milestones, you can take those first essential progress milestone you identified, and you can break them down even further into bite-sized action steps that you can now schedule into your upcoming week. As you work with these bite-sized action steps, fleshing their details out at a granular level, and bringing them into the flow of your real context, taking action on these things begins to form the structure of your working memory for that larger goal or responsibility.
Using your planner daily (especially if you get really still, really real, and really laser-focused on what’s important next) reinforces these intentions, and helps you to feel like an expert on your own priorities. That expertise coupled with strong attention protection habits (and mobilized by diligent action) will automatically launch you onto a whole new level of productivity that you didn’t even know was possible.
Your planner remains ever available for micro-optimization.
Just because, as goal-oriented mamas, we have to be a lot more flexible with our schedule than many other workers, it doesn’t mean we have to throw our hands up and surrender to the chaos.
No. We’re called to be agents of stability and leaders in progress.
Even if having kids, a husband, a church family—and many Providential interruptions for hospitality and ministry—means that we can’t optimize our lives like bachelor Tim Ferris (and I mean, he’s not even living the “Tim Ferris lifestyle” anymore), that doesn’t mean that we can’t leverage the skill of optimization in order to increase our productivity in very specific ways.
Your planner is the perfect tool for spotting opportunities for micro-optimization, and getting really creative about how to organize your resources for better results.
- You could optimize your morning routine in order to reduce friction and potential distractions, allowing you up to three hours for deep work before you launch into mom duty.
- You could optimize your sleeping schedules and daily rhythms so that everyone’s focused energy peaks at around the same time and the environment is prepared for tranquility, creating the perfect pocket in your day for homeschooling.
- You could optimize your use of screen time with kids so that their first inclination is to play outside or help with chores, and then when you really need them to sit still and relax, you know the infrequency of the experience will empower the show to keep their attention (without zombifying their little brains!)
- You could optimize your planning sessions so that you can stop wasting time looking for sticky-notes, wading through outdated todo lists for that one detail you can’t lose track of, or getting distracted by notification when you’re trying to use your Google calendar. You can do this by having a single hub for your brain, in a powerful analog format, already optimized to guide your brain quickly into a productive and organized mindset.
- You could sit down at the coffee shop with that unexpected free hour and use your planner to micro-optimize your rare alone time for progress on work or for deeply nourishing self-care.
- You can micro-optimize anything. And as long as the goal is to support your progress (rather than to put a straight-jacket on your time), micro-optimization is a small investment of upfront organization that pays incredible dividends.
Your planner equips you to see what’s working and what needs to change.
Look at the 20% of your plan that you did implement. It might be the 20% that matters most! There’s nothing wrong with reworking your plan once you realize you over-planned before.
Usually, 20% of everything we could do will get 80% of the results we want. So if you set ten goals, but the only two goals you ended up accomplishing were, for example, (1) getting more sleep, and (2) buying different homeschool curriculum, then it may be that those were the two most important things that needed to change.
You might then be better able to tackle the other eight goals, or you might realize that some of them become irrelevant once you’ve taken care of the other more fundamental issues.
Alternatively, if you went off plan altogether, it might be that using your planner cleared the clutter of your head and let what really was important rise to the surface through your choices. There have been times when I’ve set my quarterly goals, felt very pumped about them, only to see that fresh influx of can-do creativity organically go to accomplish the other, more important issues I finally had the mental bandwidth to deal with.
And, of course, it might be that you simply didn’t follow through with the changes you know you need to make. If you use your planner to keep track of what does happen, you’ll be able to go back and troubleshoot the dynamics of how your goals interact with the realities of your daily life.
Your planner leads you through focus-centering prompts and mindset-adjusting reflection habits, giving you daily opportunities to improve your thought-life.
One of the biggest challenges of living in a first-world country in the 21st century is having space to collect your thoughts and set your intentions. Focus has to be curated in order to be harnessed.
The Evergreen Planner has built-in productivity prompts that, if used habitually, work to trigger your mind into a focused state. This state becomes a platform for micro-optimization of your available time resources.
And second only to low-quality distractions, the biggest threat to your productivity is a lack of motivation. Motivation is fueled by hope, and hope is either nurtured or diminished in our thought-lives.
Every day page of the Evergreen Planner includes micro-journaling prompts that lead you to reflect with gratitude, consider personal growth lessons, mentally celebrate your victories, and remember your “why” for your quarterly goals.
The space for filling out each one of these prompts is small—compelling you to take just a moment to respond to each one. But though they be small, these micro-journaling prompts are fiercely effective, allowing you to shift into a growth-mindset in just under five minutes.
After a while, your brain begins to associate your planner with hope, progress, and tremendous motivation. You then have a tool in your aresnal that you can open at any time to trigger your brain to shift immediately into a healthy, passionate, diligent state of mind.
Your planner gives you a solid platform for pivoting with intention.
Take a second to imagine how it feels to have your best-laid plans changed in an instant due to an unexpected turn of events (#momlife).
Now imagine facing that same disruptive experience with all of this under your belt:
- A plan that was so realistic and padded with margin that you can simply rearrange it like lego-blocks.
- A mental map of what’s happening in your day and your week so that you can make decisions on the fly, leveraging your deeply informed gifts of intuition.
- A strong working memory that can immediately bring forth the details of your next right steps so that you can maximize opportunities for administrative or deep work tasks at the best possible times, and then fully relax when you’re focused exclusively on nurturing relationships.
- All the data you need to take stock of your upcoming timeblocks and responsibilities so that you can increase your productive output and decrease wasted resources through micro-optimization.
- A hub that allows you to see what’s working in your life (and troubleshoot what’s not) while helping you keep what matters most to you top of mind.
- A planner that immediately centers your focus and triggers your brain to shift into a growth-mindset.
With that in your toolkit, imagine how you can face Providential interruptions.
With strong mindset habits and a little mental organization, you can keep your heart open to God’s redirections even as you keep making progress on the long-term work He’s called you to do.
And, let’s be honest. The Providential pivot is where the best stuff happens, isn’t it?
Are you ready to launch into an entirely new way of planning? We created the Evergreen Planner System because we needed a flexible tool that would enable us to both make plans, and pivot when those plans change. 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!