May 11, 2022

Identifying Your Productivity Season – Podcast Ep 14

Listen to episode 14 on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

Although productivity and time-management resources seldom address this reality, different seasons of life significantly affect your productivity in different ways. It can be easy to get caught up into thinking we should be able to plan and execute tasks regardless of what is happening around us, but this simply isn’t the case. Your productivity is going to fluctuate based on the season you find yourself in, and that’s not a bad thing.

As we’ve studied our lives and others’, we’ve come to identify three seasons of our productive lives. Everyone goes through these seasons (and it’s possible to be in between seasons), but the key is to recognize each season early, and to understand and embrace the ways your current season will inevitably impact your productivity. In fact, knowing what season you’re in and having clarity about the types of goals and tasks you should be focusing on in that season, is a key component to a sustainable time-management strategy. 

Surviving

Survival seasons are common and can arise in a flash—even the most intentional of lifestyles. Oftentimes they are not even the result of any action we have taken or failed to take. They simply come as a natural part of living in a world where we only have so much control.

(Note: Survival seasons are not crisis seasons, wherein even your most basic tasks are nearly impossible to accomplish. If you are in a crisis season, then it is normal and appropriate for rhythms and typical goals to go out the window as you deal with the crisis. Crisis seasons need lots of external help—whether from family, trusted friends, or professionals [and often all three]. Get the help you need, and this post will be here to inspire you once you are no longer in the thick of crisis mode.)

You know you’re in a survival season when all of your focus is simply on getting through the day. In a survival season, you can’t really think about big goals or forming habits for intentional living, because all of your energy is on making sure basic needs are met and that no major deadlines are being forgotten.

It’s important to remember that everyone has survival seasons, and that being in a survival season doesn’t mean you’ve failed or that you’re “behind” in life. Survival mode does not even mark a wasted period of life. Often the survival mode elements are there precisely because you are being situated to tend to extremely important things without even the advantage of a steady pace and ample relaxation. God knows that survival seasons will impact and redirect our productivity in ways we personally couldn’t have prepared for, and we can trust that He is working in ways we can’t imagine or see.

The key, though, is to recognize the survival mode season early, accept the reality of it, give yourself grace, say no to false guilt and shame, and remain faithful. In time, you’ll feel alert to the inner nudges that say, “alright, it’s time to get creative and take some control of the chaos.”

Our episode on 6 Tips to Get Out of the Crazy is all about navigating and transitioning out of survival mode seasons. If you’re feeling the inner nudge to take control of the chaos, then give this episode a listen.

Reviving

You know you’re entering a reviving season when the pressure starts to lift and you find yourself increasingly longing to get back to your life-giving rhythms. No longer consumed with just getting through each day, a fresh wave of creativity will energize you to start reviving the intentional elements of your life.

The process of reviving is marked by your desire to start organizing all of the expectations on your plate, to get real about your personal limitations, to purge non-essential stressors and time-wasters, to set healthy boundaries, to implement effective but flexible rhythms, and to find new ways to make life-giving space for your most essential goals and dreams. Spending time each day in your planner to get your thoughts organized and brainstorm problems that need solved is normally the first step you need to take to capitalize on a reviving season. 

Our episode Quickstart Your Planning is the perfect listen for a reviving season. Our approach to planning leads you step-by-step out of having a vague sense of the different elements you want to build into each week and day, into being able to firmly establish this structure in your life. Give this episode a listen, or jump straight to downloading our free Quickstart Your Planning Guide.

Thriving

When you set out to make space to thrive—persistently solving problems and reworking your approach to answer the needs of each season—one day you’ll look up and your breath will catch as you realize that you are finally thriving. Seasons of really thriving spring up around embracing your reality, achieving mental clarity about your priorities, and effectively organized your tasks, responsibilities, and goals so that each one of those things align and resonate deeply with who you were created to be. Thriving comes from a life focused on the life-giving essentials, with increasing volumes of non-essential preoccupations falling off the edges of your radar. Thriving comes with strong rhythms and habits and boundaries that string together to create a framework for an exceptional, purpose-filled lifestyle with ample margin for flexibility, creativity, relationships, and growth.

When you reach this place, the very reality that you feel like you’re thriving is—in itself—a reward and a celebration. The goals you begin to set from this season’s vantage point will start to feel intuitive and deeply personal. You may also start to realize that your progress in those goals is accelerated. You will feel compelled to cultivate abundance in new ways. That itch will propel you forward—even inviting you to risk some of the balance you’ve achieved as you stretch to grow. Some of these risks may even introduce a new survival season as you figure out the next big thing: but you’ve how to reign seasons like those in to be only as long as necessary. You still have ups and downs, but as you expand your skillset and rework your time-management approach to match this new challenge, you’ll find yourself in another revival period until you find your equilibrium again and, thriving, your capacity expands further. 

Knowing Your Season is a Strong Time-Management Strategy

Knowing the season you are in, is in and of itself a time-management strategy. When you recognize each season early, you can plan accordingly. You can strategize effectively for harder seasons and capitalize on seasons of thriving. This approach gives you the flexibility to honor each season. Recognizing how your current season will shape your productivity will motivate you to effectively leverage your time so that you can advance to the next season of progress.

Blind striving, on the other hand, is not an effective time-management strategy. Blind striving is your default position anytime you start fighting the season you’re in instead of understanding and working with it. It looks like spinning your wheels and trying to force progress on goals and tasks that aren’t actually realistic in your season.

Creating a Next-Right-Step Goal

Whatever season you’re in, the most crucial step to making sustainable progress is knowing what your next-right-step goal is. The ROOTED Goals Workbook was designed to help you identify, strategize and execute your next-right-step goal. It helps you identify your productivity season in key areas of life, and then teaches you to plan and prioritize tasks in the context of your current season—whether you’re surviving, reviving or thriving! Download your workbook here.

April 27, 2022

Why You Need A Hub for Your Brain – Podcast Ep 13

Listen to episode 13 on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

A few years ago, I read this crazy statistic that shocked me. It said the average person spends 5,000 hours in their lifetime looking for misplaced items. Ladies, that’s over 6 months solid spent feeling totally disorganized, simply trying to unblock your progress. I think the reason this hit me so hard was that I completely identified with this statistic. I knew it had to be accurate based on how I tended to feel in that season of my life. I also knew that this disorganized, fretful overwhelm was seriously holding me back from accomplishing the big goals I deeply cared about.

I realized I needed a hub for my brain—a one-stop home for #allthethings I was trying to juggle. I knew that if I could capture the important details of life in one place, then I could arrange the tasks I needed to do into my schedule, and my brain would have everything it needed to prioritize and stay intentional with my time. The Evergreen Planner was born out of this desire to finally feel truly organized.

Now, when I’m feeling spacey, I have a single place I can come back to in order to know what tasks I need to tackle next. This tool has saved me so much of the precious time that I used to waste spinning my wheels, and empowers me to be more present in my home, stay on top of my daily todos, and weekly make progress on those bigger goals and dreams that motivate me to stay intentional.

Here at Evergreen, we’re not big fans of the “hot mess” mentality that has seemed to latch itself onto the role of modern motherhood. Don’t get us wrong—this is not because we think we have it all together. We certainly have our days—and even weeks—that we ourselves feel like the conductors of the hot mess express. But we don’t like how this has become the inevitable companion of motherhood, implicitly denying that we have the agency to build the intentional lifestyles we were created to crave. We believe that we are called, and therefore that we have been given the responsibility and capability to create beautiful lives for our families, and to move forward in all of the things that God has given us to do. We endeavor to be steady and forward-thinking women who build homes (and businesses, and teams, and classrooms, and communities, and ministries, etc., etc.) that are peaceful, purposeful, and breathe life into all who are served by them.

And we know that you’re here because you want these things, too.

The Evergreen Planner: A Hub For Your Brain

The Evergreen Planner is your hub for everything—from paying bills, to jotting down todo lists, to running a business, to home educating, to otherwise managing a lively household. We wanted a place where the sticky-note doodle from your five year old, the water bill rescued from your junk drawer, and the logistics of those big projects you’re steadily chipping away at could live together and form a support network for your busy mind. Keeping these important touch-points of responsibility and interest in dozens of different places (or scattered on your dining room table) is a recipe for feeling fragmented, stressed, and overwhelmed. But, oh how mentally supported you feel when you can get all those little details you’ve been juggling out of your head and into their proper places in your planner. It clears up so much space in your working memory—kind of like what happens when you close those 38 tabs all trying to load in the background of your computer.

The Evergreen Planner is a three part system, and each piece is built to have space for all of the moving parts of your life. The Annual is the birds eye view of your year, empowering you to do long-term planning and look at your year as a whole. The Month booklet is your place for in-depth week and day planning, with daily timeblockers, weekly habit trackers, productivity prompts, and plenty of space to problem-solve, brainstorm better rhythms, and catch all the random thoughts and todos that make up your week. The Cover is a handcrafted genuine-leather piece that was designed not only to bind your planner booklets into one cohesive system and protect them from the wear-and-tear of daily use—but also to store pens, washi, scratch paper, bills, notes, and even credit cards.

 

A Planner to Bring Peace

This planner system was crafted to bring peace.

Imagine waking up in the morning with clarity on what is most important to accomplish that day, and having a fully personalized time-management tool sitting at ready to help you spot your urgent priorities and work out a quick strategy for getting the essential things done.

Imagine moving through your day with incredible peace, knowing that you’re staying focused on what matters most.

In the middle of the day, when you need to re-orient or motivate yourself to stay diligent, visualize yourself revisiting your planner and feeling refreshed as you see your tasks fitting into the larger context of your goals. When you’re on the go, picture your planner fitting easily your purse or diaper bag, making it the perfect companion for journaling little moments, or even making progress on a big goal or knocking out a list of administrative tasks in the drive-through line.

And in the evening, when you’re ready to call it a night, envision your planner sitting on your nightstand, available to accompany you through an evening wind-down. You check to make sure the critical tasks have been taken care of, and then easily move what was left undone to another day. When you close your planner each evening, there is this incredible peace in knowing that you’ve put in your best efforts and that it’s time to rest—and that your planner will be there to greet you with fresh opportunity in the morning.

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If you’re craving a planning system that can bring more peace into your day, the Getting Started Kit is the perfect way to try the Evergreen Planner System. Complete with the Annual and two Month booklets, you’ll be fully equipped to finally start getting your time organized around the things that matter most.

April 13, 2022

How to Build a Morning & Evening Rhythm – Podcast Ep 12

Listen to episode 12 on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

Effective yet flexible rhythms are one of the key building blocks in a sustainable and intentional lifestyle. But trying to copy a guru’s routine, whether for work or home life, quickly becomes overwhelming. There are dozens of “best practices” out there, so where do you start? How do you decide what you need in your personal rhythms?

Create a rhythm for your unique lifestyle

In this episode of the podcast, you’ll get long look into how each of us approaches our morning and evening rhythms. Although we all have similar values—and we’re even in similar stages of life—each of our rhythms look different.

Here’s the thing about rhythms: they have to be crafted for your lifestyle, congruent with your season of life, and based on what you and your family value. I remember listening to a podcast years ago that said that “‘should‘ is not a sustainable why.” This idea holds true for rhythms. Feeling like you “should” get up before the kids, will not be a strong enough “why” when your alarm goes off at 6am. But if you begin to know in your core—because you’ve taken the time to reflect on your personal experience—that getting up before the kids sets you up for a better, more peaceful morning, this core knowing can easily become a very strong “why.”

Alternately, you may learn through experience that getting up at 6am actually works against your peaceful morning, and that beginning each day with the kids snuggled up against you in bed is exactly what your family needs. In this case, your “why” evolves against getting up early, and will become strong enough to drown out the “should” that throws unnecessary shade on your mornings when you hear your favorite guru talk about how she can’t imagine a lifestyle that includes regularly sleeping in.

The rhythms that work for your family in this season work for you. And that is enough.

Building personalized, sustainable rhythms does take time and mental effort to work out in the beginning. Because you’re not going to be taking a copy-and-paste approach, you will have to put in the work to figure out what you uniquely need in your rhythms. It will take some discipline to put your rhythms into practice, problem-solve the tricky areas, and continue to refine them as seasons change. But all this work is 100% worth it. With practice, your rhythms will eventually require little to no mental effort to carry out. As key things areas of your days are tended in the intuitive flow of your daily rhythms, you’ll find that you’ve established an extremely valuable framework for the rest of your intentional lifestyle.

How to Build Your Rhythms

When starting to think about your rhythms, the best thing to do is to sit down and have an effective brainstorming session. Grab a bit of flex space in your Evergreen Planner and work through these questions:

  • What do I have to have done each morning to set up the rest of the day well?
  • What do I have to have done each evening to set up the next day well ?
  • What’s working well in my morning/evening right now?
  • What not working well?
  • What is inflexible (commutes, drop off and pick up times, lessons, weekly appointments, etc.)?
  • What is predictable (wake times, meal times, nap times, etc.)?

Once you have worked through these questions, use a pencil to start sketching out the different elements of your morning. You can do this in the time-blocking section of your Month booklet, or if you don’t have your Evergreen planner yet, you can download the free Quickstart Your Planning Guide and use the free planner pages included.

(This is a good time to mention that if you are familiar with Quickstart Your Planning method, you know that the first thing we recommend is to “pencil in what you did.” This applies to developing new morning and evening rhythms, too. For a few days or weeks, track what you do each day. You’ll end up with a wealth of knowledge about how your days normally go. Use this knowledge when forming your rhythms. If you’re interested in learning more about this, then go ahead and download the free guide!) 

Label your timeblocking section beginning with when you typically get up, and work from there. Fill in the items that are inflexible or predictable. Those things are what we call “anchors”, and you build your day around them.

Next, look at that list of things that need to get done in the morning to set up the day well. Now look at your morning and figure out when you will tackle each item. Will you tackle an item before breakfast or after? Before the kids wake up or after? How can you batch similar tasks? (Now is a good to time to evaluate and make sure these are the truly critical tasks, and not just a wish list. It’s important when first building your rhythms that you start with the essential items, and then work your rhythms around those before you get into your wishlist items.) 

If there are trouble areas, brainstorm some possible solutions and begin testing them out. For example, if packing the kids lunches is often last minute and stressful, list a few potential solutions and test them out. You could pack lunches in the evening, so they’re ready to go in the morning, or perhaps you could do more planning and prepping at the front of the week, so you know exactly what you’re packing and it’s only a matter of putting things in bags. Pinterest can be your friend here, so long as you keep “should” in exile. Test out whatever solutions you think could work until you find the one that clicks with your needs.

You can utilize this same process for your evening rhythm. Start with the inflexible and predictable items, and go from there. Look at your task list of things that absolutely need to happen for a peaceful lifestyle every evening, and figure out when you can fit them in. Remember that the best way to start a new habit is to tie it to an existing anchor (this could be an inflexible and predictable item already in your schedule, or another habit that is already firmly established). I had great success with this when trying to form a routine for taking my supplements. I already had the set habit of grinding and prepping our coffee every evening after dinner. I anchored my new evening habit of taking my supplements before grinding the coffee, and made sure to store my supplements near the coffee so I would see them before I started the coffee prep. Voila! Suddenly, I was consistently remembering to take my supplements each and every evening.

For the first few weeks of establishing your rhythms, it is helpful to write them out and keep them in sight every day. You can write them in the flex space on the day page of your planner, or write them on a bit of cardstock that you move from day to day. You will continue to refine what is working and what needs adjusted. Pretty soon, you’ll find you don’t even have to reference your list because you will intuitively move through all the things that need to be done each morning and evening. Your rhythms will become such an integral part of your day that you hardly have to give any brain space to them because they flow so well. Of course, you’ll still have off days or weeks, but you’ll soon feel the tug to get back to your rhythms because you’ve seen how helpful they are for creating the sustainable and intentional lifestyle you love.

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March 30, 2022

6 Tips to Get Out of the Crazy – Podcast Ep 11

Listen to episode 11 on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

When you are in an overwhelming season, it can be hard to know where to even begin. Crazy seasons can come out of nowhere, and often come from things outside of your control. But what we have found is that when you go back to the basics, and gently work on getting back to your life-giving rhythms, that there is always something you can do to relieve some of the pressure.

The steps below aren’t pie-in-the-sky ideas, these are the real steps we have each taken to bring more peace to the chaotic seasons we’ve been through.

How to Get Out of the Crazy

1. Focus on nourishing food and sleep

Nutrition and self-care can be one of the easiest things to go when you get into a crazy season. But these things are also the foundation for being able to build a sustainable and intentional lifestyle. You need nourishing food, sleep and water to be able to reduce your brain fog so you can begin to problem-solve the more chaotic parts of your life.

We know you may only have so much control over how much sleep you’re getting, especially if you’re in a postpartum season or time of dealing with chronic illness. But even if sleep is hard to come by, you can still orient your days towards rest by keeping your expectations on yourself realistic, minimizing time on your phone, asking for help, and ruthlessly simplifying every other area of your life to enable as much rest as possible.

We’ve also found that keeping food on hand that is both easy and nutritious (ingredients for a favorite smoothie recipe or a nourishing on-the-go snack) can enable you to nourish yourself, while also keeping up with the chaos of these types of seasons.

2. Carve out space each day for quiet

There’s no way to begin to take control of the chaos if you can’t get still, get real, and begin to identify what you have control over, what you don’t, and what your biggest pain points are. And we aren’t talking about lengthy strategizing sessions here, we are talking about taking 15 minutes to begin the process of getting your thoughts organized.

Getting quiet time is one of the best ways to help your minds begin to orient towards a more steady pace. When you are in the “go go go” of a chaotic season, your brain is in constant survival mode, and you can live in reactionary mode. Taking some time to be quiet, enables your brains to begin to slow down and identify problems you need to deal with. Quiet is also the spark for creativity, and in chaotic seasons you are going to need some serious creative problem solving power. So get some quiet time each day.

This is most effective when done consistently at the same time each day (whether morning, during the day, or in the evening), but even if you can’t make that consistency happen, just find 15 minutes somewhere in your day.

3. Get all the details out of your head

You have to get out of your head. So much of the stress in crazy seasons can come from what’s going on inside of your brain, and this is actually one area where you can exercise the most amount of control. Set a timer for 15 minutes, and use your planner or a piece of paper to start getting all your thoughts out of your head.

  • What parts of this crazy season are in your control?
  • What is your biggest pain point?
  • What is your personal responsibility in those pain points?
  • Where do you need to ask for help?
  • Where do you need to release expectations on yourself?

It’s also important to take time to recognize what is going well, and points of gratitude. Taking time to honor these things can help encourage and motivate you to continue to work towards relieving the pressure and taking control of the crazy.

It’s amazing how often a session like this can help you intuitively know what the next-right-step goal is. If you sense that clarity, then lean into that and begin making a short task list on how to address that pain point. If you’re still struggling in this area, give it time. Your biggest pain points will rise to the surface as you continue to do the work of getting still and working through the questions listed above.

4. Take action on the next-right-step before planning more

Once you start getting that quiet planning time, you may get caught up in the possibilities and sense of relief that comes from getting your thoughts out of your brain and stall at that step. The best way to avoid this pitfall is to take action on the next-right-step goal before planning more. This is where that 15 minute timer can be extremely helpful:

  • If you tend toward frantic action taking in crazy seasons, use the 15 minute timer to discipline yourself to sit down and make sure the action you are taking is for the most critical tasks before jumping into action.
  • If you tend toward procrastination and let perfectionism get in the way of making progress and follow through, then use the 15 minute timer to cap your planning time, knowing that when that timer goes off it is time to take imperfect action on your next-right-step.

5. Sometimes it’s a “get out of survival mode” bootcamp

We are big fans of small, consistent progress. But sometimes survival mode seasons call for more of a “get out of survival mode” bootcamp approach. This means you let go of the rhythms you know serve your family and take a week, or a few weeks, to execute the things that need to change in order to bring back that sense of normalcy. 

If your house clutter is the thing you need to deal with to take control of the crazy, focus all your energy on that problem for a week or two, then come back to your planner to figure out what comes next, and what you need to do to get back to your life-giving rhythms.

6. Build a morning rhythm

When you’re starting to feel a little of that pressure lifting because you’re consistently getting your thoughts organized, you’ve tackled some of your bigger pain points, and you’re ready to take that next step towards normalcy, the next right thing you can do is look at your morning rhythm.

Why is building a morning rhythm important? The morning is the foundation for your day. We all know that it is easier to have an intentional afternoon after an intentional morning, than it is to turn around a bad day. A morning rhythm doesn’t mean you have to get up at 5am, and it doesn’t mean you have to have a 12 step process you work through before noon; it is simply asking yourself what you (+ your family) need to set up the day well, and then doing those things consistently.

The next episode in our podcast is dedicated entirely to setting up a good morning and evening rhythm, so stay tuned if you’re wanting an in-depth walkthrough on how to do this.

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March 16, 2022

How Todo Lists Hinder Your Productivity – Podcast Ep 10

Listen to episode 10 on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

We know the todo list cycle all too well.

You have a hundred things rattling around in your brain, so you write out a massive list out on a piece of paper, and then jump into frenzied action.

But you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, like you are working all the time, and still have so much to do and can’t get ahead of the todo list that grows faster than you can manage.

The Problem with Todo Lists

Todo lists tend to fragment your focus. Alone, they can never be the time-management strategy you need to organize your tasks within the context of your week. Todo lists encourage you to take action, but it is most often un-prioritized action, meaning you will never make progress on the things that actually matter most to you.

Todo lists also don’t enable you to see the greater context of your productivity. When you look at a todo list, you see that you’ve either completed a task or you haven’t. Your todo list can’t tell you why your task is still unfinished. All it can offer is that sense of deflation as you contemplate that another day has passed and it’s still sitting on your list.

How to Tame Your Todo List

But this doesn’t mean your intuition to write a massive todo list is a bad one.

In fact, your impulse to do so is your brain begging you to declutter it of all the details you’re trying to juggle solo.

Your intuition to write a massive todo list is good

Getting everything out of your head onto paper in messy, non-organized, braindumping fasion is actually the first step to becoming more productive and efficient. So instead of tearing up your todo list, you need a strategy for how to tame it.

This guide will teach you the rest of the steps you need to sort your massive todo list into an effective plan of action—using the Evergreen Planner.

This PDF even includes a bonus printable version of the Evergreen Planner so that anyone can follow along and finally get organized.

With this guide, you will…

  • Prep your planner (or free planner pages) for maximum effectiveness
  • Declutter your brain with a massive braindump
  • Sort, purge and prioritize your todo list
  • Timeblock your tasks into the context of your existing schedule
  • Learn how to select top-targets so you can make progress every day without burning out

Listen to our podcast episode (on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify) to learn more about how we tame our todo lists (+ for a special discount code for our Taming Your Todo List Guide!).

March 2, 2022

Quickstart Your Planning – Podcast Ep 9

Listen to episode 9 on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

You want to create a personalized time-management strategy and maximize your planner. But you’re not sure where to start or how to keep making the space to figure it all out when you’re still trying to juggle everything you already have on your to-do list.

If that sounds like you, then you’re our people.

And you need the Quickstart Your Planning Guide.

About This Episode

If you listened to the first season of our podcast, you’ll remember our Four Rules of Planning. Those rules were a helpful start, but in the months after publishing those episodes we realized a couple of things…

First, we don’t like rules. We like planning strategies that are personalized to each individual, and rules can rarely accomplish that level of customization.

Second, we couldn’t easily remember the four rules… and we wrote them. We knew that wasn’t going to work; we needed something easy to grasp that was memorable.

Lastly, we realized there was a crucial element missing (spoiler alert: it was the brain-dump!).

So we went back to the drawing board with a goal to make this process simple and memorable. Enter the PLANS Acronym. Once you know this acronym, you will be equipped to execute a process that will be easy to come back to again and again. The steps listed below are foundational for creating an effective, personalized, and simplified planning strategy, while still executing all those day-to-day responsibilities you can’t let slide while you figure out how to maximize the use of your planner.

PLANS stands for:

  • Pencil in what you did.
  • Leverage the brain dump.
  • Access & train your working memory.
  • Nurture a flexible mindset.
  • Sharpen your time-management skillset.

In this episode, we dive into each aspect of this process, and walk you through exactly how you can use this acronym to jump into planning. (Our Quickstart Your Planning Guide breaks this down into easy-to-follow steps.)

Pencil in what you did.

For several days or weeks, use your planner (or a notebook or our free printable day planner) to record what you did. The best place to do this is in the timeblocking section. Write in the hours you want to focus on (our timeblocker is blank making this easy to customize), and at the end of the day, write down what happened. Do this for a few days, capturing at least a week is very helpful. Write down when you:

  • ate meals
  • ran errands
  • wake/sleep times
  • did household tasks
  • commutes
  • drop off/pick up times for kids activities
  • deep work times
  • lite work times

The goal is to write down as much as you can, because writing everything down gives you so much information to glean from. You’ll start to see the rhythms you and your family operate in, and you can recognize patterns, evaluating what’s working and what’s not. You can then design incremental change that serves your family, makes sense for the season you’re in, in a way that builds a sustainable lifestyle. 

Leverage the brain dump.

Leveraging a good brain dump is something we do on the weekly, and in busy season, daily. A brain dump is exactly what is sounds like… You take everything that is rattling around in your brain, and you dump it out onto a giant to-do list.

But here’s the key: do not stop there. It is tempting to see that long list and want to immediately jump into execution mode, but don’t do it. Instead, take time to sort, cull and prioritize your list. Grab a new sheet of paper, and rewrite tasks, grouping errands or cleaning tasks, and making an “ideas” section for anything that isn’t pressing. Go ahead and ditch those perfectionist items that aren’t actually important to you, and choose to prioritize the most meaningful tasks first. Then take your planner, and begin figuring out when you can tackle those meaningful tasks.

What day will you tackle cleaning tasks or run errands? When will you tackle work projects? Do this with each aspect of your list, until all the critical things have a place. If this feels overwhelming, don’t fret! In a couple weeks, we’ll have an entire guide dedicated to this process because it’s that important. A well organized brain dump will propel you into your day, because you will have absolute clarity on what you need to tackle when.

Access & train your working memory.

​​The more you write down your goals and priorities, the more you are teaching your brain to focus on what is important to you. This builds a “working memory” around your priorities, enabling you to waste less energy on deciding what you need to do next in the day-to-day, so you can give more brain space to bigger goals and projects.

This planner was built to help you efficiently remember and execute your priorities. It helps you to train your working memory to focus on what matters most to you by guiding you to plan your days in the context of your week, to write important notes in a place where they’ll stay top-of-mind, and to rewrite your seasonal goals daily.

Nurture a flexible mindset.

Even with the best planning, life still throws punches and things play out in ways you could’ve never anticipated. Instead of mislabeling yourself as a “time-management failure” because of circumstances out of your control, you have the choice to strengthen your positive influence in any given situation. You can take a proactive approach to these challenges—whether big or small—by adopting a mindset that inspires you to pivot and handle the inevitable changes to your plans in creative and life-giving ways.

Three steps to nurture flexibility:

  • Make realistic plans to begin with.
  • When things don’t go as planned evaluate why. What was in your control? What wasn’t?
  • Know your priorities, so you can quickly pivot, maintaining focus on what is critical, and dropping or moving things to a later week that aren’t time pressing.
Sharpen your time-management skillset.

Think about it like becoming a skilled cook in a kitchen. You must build your planning and productivity skills over time, as you come upon new challenges. Learn as you go, practice patiently, and you’ll soon feel equipped to adapt your new skills to fit any given situation. Just as a skilled cook would not feel the pressure to use every technique they know every time they prepare a dish, you shouldn’t feel the pressure to exercise every single time-management or efficiency muscle you have every single moment of every day. You simply build your repertoire of skills for when you need them.

Our Quickstart Your Planning Guide will show you how to figure out which time-management skill you need to sharpen next, and includes a list of resources that you can choose from to get started right away.

Remember: these rules are not a once-and-done process, they are a cycle that you can move through again and again. The truth about intentional living is that it has to be adaptable, because your life will change constantly. The schedule rhythms you were following in January are likely not the ones that will work well in September. These four rules will help you to constantly adapt, change and perfect your planning processes, while doing it in a way that is unique to your lifestyle, season and needs.

February 23, 2022

Recap of Podcast Season 1 Episodes

At the end of January, we spent several days together as a team batch recording episodes for the second season of our podcast, Make Space to Thrive. We’re so, so excited about the content coming your way. It’s encouraging and practical, and we believe it will help you continue to make intentional living an intuitive part of your life. Our first episode of season 2 will drop on March 2nd, 2022 and we can’t wait!

Here is a quick recap of all our episodes from Season 1, which aired this past fall. The topics of these episodes are so foundational, and a great place to start!

The Four Rules of Planning (Part 1 & Part 2)

You want to start getting organized around the things that matter most to you. But where do you even begin? In our first two episodes, we offer an effective shortcut for diving into the world of time-management and productivity—without getting overwhelmed. These rules are not a once-and-done process, rather they are a cycle that you can move through again and again. These four rules will help you to constantly adapt, change and perfect your planning processes, while doing it in a way that is unique to your lifestyle, season and needs.

ROOTED Goals: A Refreshing Approach

Setting ROOTED Goals is all about creating a symbiotic relationship between your daily life and your goals. It’s about creating space for personal growth, and channeling your productivity in a way that cultivates peace. In this episode, we do an in-depth walkthrough of the ROOTED goals system. With this system, you can start to craft a lifestyle that not only sustains but actually fuels the vision that God is growing in your heart.

How We Plan Our Days 

When you sit down to plan a day, you’re sitting down to strategically invest your time in a way that honors the season you’re in, the ones you’ve been given to love, and the work you’re responsible for. And planning a lot of days, over several weeks and months, enables you to begin forming life-giving rhythms that work to breathe life into your family and help you make progress on your bigger goals. In this episode, you’ll get a peek into how we (as business owners running a growing company with nine kids under the age of six between us!) plan our days.

The Story Behind “Make Space to Thrive”

What do we mean by “Make Space To Thrive”? Why did we make this the title of this podcast? In this episode, we share the story behind this phrase and discuss the life-changing concept of adding margin into your day. We talk about the simple and powerful ways margin shows up in our lives, and how to ensure you’re keeping margin in mind when you’re planning your days. Because, friend, margin is a beautiful thing. It’s planned white-space for your day, your week, your home, your brain—space to breathe in #allthethings. Making space for margin is the practical secret-sauce for making space to thrive.

How We Plan Our Weeks

Every Monday is a fresh start. You have an entire week before you, a clean slate, and it can seem like the possibilities for productivity are endless! But how do you balance all your responsibilities and to-dos? How do you create week rhythms that serve your long term goals, your weekly work needs, and your family? In this episode, you’ll get a peek into how we (as business owners running a growing company with nine kids under the age of six between us!) plan our weeks. We are all about flexible planning that is individual for each person. You’ll get to hear how we each approach week planning, and get ideas you can apply in your own unique way.

Planning While Postpartum

Planning while postpartum? At first glance it sounds over-the-top, almost an oxymoron. Postpartum should be a season of rest. But it’s incredibly hard to rest when you have a smattering of to-do’s rattling around in your brain. It’s hard to know what’s essential and what can be left for another day (or dropped completely), when you’re foggy from sleep deprivation. It’s hard to track how well you’re healing physically, mentally and emotionally, if you try to do it all in your head. In this episode, we about the simple, but extremely useful, form of day-to-day planning that helps us get out of our heads, sort our priorities, and let the non-essentials fall away so we can soak in those newborn days that pass so quickly.

What Makes Our Planner Different

In this episode, we give you a tour of the Evergreen Planner System. There are so many planners out there—so why did we decide to create another one? What makes our planner different? We created this system because we couldn’t find a planner that felt intuitive—that brought all the different areas of our lives together. So we created a planner that is minimalistic, intuitive, and extremely versatile. Instead of asking you to change the way you organize your thoughts, this planner was made to change and flex with your evolving needs. If you’re interested in a deep dive of all the aspects of the Evergreen Planner system, and the “why” behind each design choice we made, this is the episode for you!

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You can find the Make Space to Thrive podcast on Apple, Google, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Don’t forget to follow us so that you’ll never miss a new episode!

February 16, 2022

Setting ROOTED Goals: Developed by Providence

Sustainable, Lasting, and Life-Giving Goals Are:

Recap:

Last week, we talked about the secret sauce for making progress on your important goals— even when things change —by writing your goals down frequently, even daily, so you train your brain to care about your goal. This week, we’re wrapping up the entire ROOTED goals system by talking about the most critical mindset you can have when setting and executing your goals.

Your goals must be Developed by Providence, the final step in the ROOTED goal setting system.

The Kingdom of God does not rise and fall by the successes and failures of our written goals. Knowing this gives us an incredible amount of liberty to simply follow the Lord’s leading through the messy middle. Leading our lives with integrity and excellence is a deeply meaningful endeavor, and God loves to give us the grace to do that. Having a Christian growth-mindset allows us to set our goals with an “amen” posture towards God’s unknown plans for the future, knowing that when we give our goals back to God, we can trust Him to develop them in the best of ways.

How Can You Set Strong Goals When You Know You’re Not in Control of Tomorrow?

You want to get organized around your goals and chase them with abandon.

But then reality crashes in to your plans, making you question whether goal setting is all it’s cracked up to be. Start digging into productivity and goal setting literature, throw a stone in any direction, and you’ll hit a quote about how we can (and should) be masters of our own fate and designers of our own destiny.

But there’s a difference between attempting to control tomorrow (spoiler alert: it’ll never happen), and taking personal responsibility for your choices, recognizing that they’ll have a significant impact on the future.

The Bible doesn’t pit God’s sovereignty against man’s responsibility. It’s not an either/or, it’s a both-and.

In fact, in the classic James 4 passage that reminds us to make all of our plans with a “Lord-willing” attitude, verse 17 expounds on James’s purpose for even reminding people that their lives and plans are but a vapor in the bigger picture of God’s eternal purposes and reign over history:

Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin.

What’s the “therefore” there for? James’s reminder that we’re not in charge of the future is supposed to compel us to have strong priorities.

This entire series on the ROOTED Goal Setting System has been written with this heart:

  • God is in control of our personal histories.
  • He put us in the historical and cultural context that He did for a reason.
  • He made us in His Image for the purpose of stewarding His earth and building Godly communities (starting with our own homes).
  • He’s given us each talents (resources such as time, money, and influence) that we are called to maximize in loving service to Him and others during our lifetimes.
  • God is sovereign, and yet we have freedom of will. The dynamics of this go beyond what we could logically comprehend because we are limited creatures. While He is orchestrating all things together for His glory and the good of His people, we are also fully responsible for the decisions we make and the fruit those decisions bear.

The Scriptures (especially Proverbs) are chock full of practical wisdom about how the sowing and reaping principle plays out quite predictably in the lives of people. And yet forces such as injustice, the brokenness of a fallen world, valid expectations from others, game-changing information (and other disruptions that are allowed by God’s Providence in our personal histories) come in and interplay with that universal sowing and reaping principle in unpredictable ways.

So how do we embrace personal responsibility while still respecting God’s place as, well, God?

The Mindset Shift That Make Sense of Everything

You need to adopt what’s called a “growth-mindset” that is founded on these two principles:

  1. God gives you the personal responsibility to make plans and choices based on His revealed will (Scripture), the wisdom He’s given you through experience, and the godly desires He’s placed in your heart.
  2. God will develop your goals through the revelation of His Providences, and will give you more light as you walk forward, committing to be faithful even with the little you do know right now.

​You may not know the future, but GOD DOES. He gives you the responsibilities and priorities that He wants to shape your focus. James uses the reality of God’s Providence for tomorrow to urge us to embrace our responsibilities, and do what is right starting today.

We Walk Forward; God Gives Light​

But we can’t get to the future part where we’re learning God’s unknown will, until we take those steps of faith and obedience to God’s revealed will in our presentAnd that’s why we make sure our goals are “Rooted in our core calling,” “Organically growing out of our context,” and “Tailored to our lifestyle.” That’s why this goal-setting system is so unlike anything else out there.

The starting point is God’s Providence for tomorrow, and our path forward is lit by what He’s revealed to us today. Who are the people He’s given us to serve, what are the pressures He’s Providentially allowing to capture our attention, and what resources has He provided to solve the problems He’s allowed us to face?

A goal-setting system like this reminds us that the Kingdom of God does not rise and fall by our efforts—but we do have the responsibility to do our part, exercise our influence, and steward our resources for Christ. This takes a great deal of personal maturity, and getting organized around our goals is an exercise of that same maturity.

So let’s lean into today’s responsibilities with fresh perspective.​

Living intentionally is all about taking personal responsibility, nurturing relationships, and setting strong goals for the development of the resources God’s given us. And putting on a mature, Christian growth-mindset means that we’ll be posturing ourselves to embrace all of the ways God develops our goals through the revealing of His will in the days head.

February 9, 2022

Setting ROOTED Goals: Etched in Your Memory

​Sustainable, Lasting, and Life-Giving Goals Are:

Recap:

Last week, we talked about how to create a symbiotic relationship between your goals and your lifestyle so they mutually support each other over the long-haul. This week we’re going to talk about the secret sauce for making progress on your important goals— even when things change. When you train your brain to care about your goals, your subconscious joins the team and starts looking for every reasonable opportunity for you to make progress.

We call this “etching” your goals into your memory, and it’s step 5 in the ROOTED goals process.

Why People Don’t Accomplish Their Goals

92% of people don’t accomplish their New Years Resolutions. The world gets super pumped about goal-setting on New Years day, vows flying left and right that we’ll cut refined sugar, increase our incomes, or start reading to our kids every day. But then, around January 17th (which has been officially dubbed as ‘Ditch Your Resolution Day’), goals begin dropping like flies.

Why is this?

Life picks up steam, the obstacles start mounting, and the habits start slipping. After a few days of falling off the bandwagon, many people honestly just begin to question why their goals mattered to them so much in the first place. And after a few weeks of lapsing, their goals are left in the dust of the first quarter, forgotten.

You don’t want this, and we don’t want this for you. But it will happen, if you don’t begin etching your goals into your memory so that daily, sustainable progress becomes easy.

This is because your brain is a prioritization machine. It takes what you focus on and think about, and deems those things as important. And then it starts screening out everything else as not-quite-as-important. So whatever you’re paying attention to—whether it’s your kids, the leak in the basement, your boss’s mood swings, every random notification on your phone, the news stations, or your goals—that’s what your brain is going to prioritize as important.

The good news is that we have a lot of control over what we choose to pay attention to.

Write It Down—With Pen and Paper

Studies show that “vividly” writing down your goals makes you 42% more likely to achieve them.

By imagining your goal, and then putting in the cognitive effort to describe it in written format, you experience what’s called the “generation effect”—a double-processing effort that helps to deeply etch your goal into your memory.

Vividly is an important word as well. You want your goal to be so clearly fleshed out that you could show it to someone else and they would understand what you want to do and how you aim to get there. Think pictures, timeframes, sketches—something you can fully imagine yourself jumping into.

The mental exercise of expounding on your goals and processing through details as you reverse-engineer them (we covered reverse-engineering in step 3 of the ROOTED goals process) creates an obvious pathway that your brain can utilize and begin building networks around.​

The cognitive processes for writing by hand versus typing are different, and the handwriting processes engage your brain at a deeper level. The slowness of writing by hand is actually a positive thing, inviting your brain to really digest, comprehend, and retain what you’re writing about.

This same principle applies to the phase of time where you are following through on your goals. You need to be developing your goals, by hand, throughout the entire time that you’re working to accomplish them. This brain-to-hand processing habit will help you continue to remind your brain that this goal matters to you, and that it should be prioritized. It also gives your brain time to get ahold of the details you’re outlining, see how everything interacts in your life, and constantly scan the horizon for opportunities for you to  take specific steps forward on your objectives.

Somewhere You’ll See It Consistently

The out-of-sight-out-of-mind adage fully applies to your goals.

Writing down your goals by hand is powerful—but keeping your goals somewhere you’ll see them regularly will add the benefits of having a regular visual cue that will launch your goal back to the forefront of your mind.

The more you trigger the memory of your goal, and ruminate over what this goal means for your life, the more your goal for the future will feel relevant to the choices you make today.

Here’s where to your goals strategically to ensure that you see them daily and in the context of your real life schedules:

  • the first pages of the Annual
  • next to your month calendar in the Annual
  • next to your week grid in the Monthly
  • just above the habit tracker in the Monthly​

Galvanize Your Goals in 90 Seconds a Day

We modern women lead very full lives. We need simple habits that help us stay focused on what matters most. If writing your goals down by hand and then looking at them every day is proven to increase your chances follow-through, then what would a habit of writing them down by hand every day and then remembering your deep-seated “why” for each one do for you?

I (Shelby) tested this habit out for several months and found that it cultivated in me a sharp awareness of whether or not my daily lifestyle decisions were aligning with my ultimate goals. Taking time to write down why each goal mattered to me forced me to consistently grapple with reality: either I needed to intentionally pivot on my goals, or I needed to adjust my lifestyle until it fueled my priorities.

I’ve been writing my three quarterly goals in my planner every day for years now. I am regularly challenged to come at them from new and different angles that connect with the other details of my life at that point. And it’s changed everything. I’m no longer a stereotypical flighty Visionary, with a lot of hollow passion and a bad case of shiny-object syndrome mixed with FOMO. I’m still a Visionary—I always will be—but now I’m focused on the long-game. I’m able to stick to following through on my goals. And this has been made possible by a single 90 second daily habit that has trained my brain to deem my goals as essential.

This exercise has powerfully shaped my lifestyle in incredibly meaningful directions. It has been so powerful that we reformatted the Monthly to include it in the daily pages for all of you—just days before we sent it off to be manufactured. Each daily page of our planner has a space for you to write down your top “seasonal goals” and remember your “why” for each one.​

By completing this daily exercise, you’re leveraging the power of your God-given neuroplasticity. Handwriting your goals in the Evergreen Planner builds new neural pathways every single day, literally building up your brain—and cultivating a robust and dynamic working memory—around the things that matter most to you.

February 2, 2022

Setting ROOTED Goals: Tailored to Your Lifestyle

Sustainable, Lasting, and Life-Giving Goals Are:

Recap:

Last week, we talked about how to make sure your goals are clear and actionable, so that you can make significant progress whenever you have the time. Today, we’re going to talk about that time, about how to create a symbiotic relationship between your goals and your lifestyle so they mutually support each other over the long-haul.

Step 4 is all about how to Tailor Goals to Your Lifestyle.

Other goal setting systems might show you how to reverse-engineer your goal (what we talked about last week), but then they end there and wish you good luck. This system shows you how to look at your goal in the context of your daily life, and then make strategic shifts in your schedule in order to make space for this goal.

Learning From Experience

When I (Shelby) was seven months pregnant with my first, my husband and I decided that I would work from home. At the time, designing a planner was nowhere on my radar. I had a complex system of to-do lists and digital calendars that makes my head spin to think back on. But what was worse than my lack of a cohesive system of organization was my total lack of understanding about the concept of trade-offs.

That’s why, at seven months pregnant with my first baby, I signed the biggest freelancing contract I’d ever seen. Without fully realizing what I was doing, and with one tiny digital stroke of the pen, I had committed the next two years of my life to the completion of a very rigorous and mentally straining project that would teach me the concept of trade-offs through the hard knocks of experience.

On top of it all, I had a severe deficit in my personal time-management skills. Unsurprisingly, this turned into a years-long season of overwhelm that bubbled into every area of my life.

Even so, I have to admit that I am thankful for that insane season of life. It was genuinely good work (a dream project, really), and I learned SO, SO much from it.

But one of the most powerful skills that I learned through that season of my work life was the skill of learning when to say “no.”

Learning to Say “No” is More Than a Cliché

I quickly learned during my first few years as a work-at-home mom that trade-offs are unavoidable, and that “No is a responsible word. And even though a complex of mom-guilt followed me like a shadow, lying to me and telling me that I should’ve said a big fat “NO!” to trying to do any work projects while also being a mom, those lies do not align with the conclusions I’ve reached over these five years learning the ropes of entrepreneurship and motherhood.

“No” does not have to be a big, nasty slamming-of-the-door on your hopes and dreams. It’s actually a word that we’re called to use with maturity, thoughtfulness, and precision. It’s also a word that we don’t really know how to use properly until we’ve gotten some experience under our belts in whatever area of life needs pruning. Without a growth mindset, “No” is a scary and painful word.

But combined with a growth-mindset, “No” is a power tool that you can use to optimize any area of life (work, home, school, ministry, anything). When a strong “Yes!” leads to a precise set of “No’s,” you have lifestyle-crafting magic. Within the context of a “Lord willing” attitude, God has given us agency. He calls us to wisely steward the lives and resources He’s given us.

So how do we use “no” as a power tool to optimize our goals and our lifestyles so that there’s a lot less toxic stress and a whole lot more synergy?

Tailoring Your Goal To Your Lifestyle

If you want to create a compelling next-right-step goal that resonates over the long haul, you have to give yourself permission to develop creative solutions that make sense for your particular circumstances. If you allow yourself to approach your goal in your own unique way, you will access a precious sense of freedom. This freedom will allow you to bring rich flavor and irreplaceable value to the table—and will help you tackle your goal with confidence.

Saying “No” with thoughtfulness and precision is included in “giving yourself permission to develop creative solutions that make sense for your particular circumstances.”​

Your lifestyleyour daily and weekly rhythms, margin, deep work intervals, and other life-giving habits — should be a flexible structure that properly supports and matches the goals you want to be living out. This means that your lifestyle must be trimmed so that it provides an attractive shape for your goals to follow, instead of tugging and pulling your goals out of shape.​

Your goals also need to be neat and trim. You want your goal to make sense and fit you as a person, and you can’t let FOMO prevent you from being realistic about the kind of goal that fits the size of your life and the needs of your lifestyle while still being compelling to you. You need to embrace that you, with your particular life, will necessarily infuse a unique flavor into how your goals are actually accomplished.

Optimizing Within Beautiful Limits

Let’s take a second and talk about this phrase, “Beautiful Limits.”​

Looking at the tangled overwhelm in certain areas of your life would probably not feel like a “beautiful limit” to you. Your kids are loud and impossible to concentrate around, your boss won’t allow you to pursue a certain avenue, and you have a personal issue that low-key nibbles at the rest of your emotional bandwidth.

Whatever your limits are, you may struggle to call them “beautiful.”

I hear you. I feel you. But you have to start with seeing the beauty in your life, embracing it, and building off of the frameworks that you’ve chosen and been given to steward (go back to last week and look at the concentric circles of influence for more on this). Yes, there are big changes that can be made to improve any life. But oftentimes, those changes are complex and difficult to puzzle out—and the process takes time.​

The good news? You can begin to tackle the logistics of making those big changes by tailoring goals to your lifestyle, and then tailoring your lifestyle to support your goals.

Beautiful things happen when you embrace your limits, trimming both goal and lifestyle so that they match and mutually support each other.

How All Of This Helped Me As a Work-From-Home Mom

When it came to working from home, there was so much excess to trim from both my goals and my lifestyle.

How I had to tailor my goals:
  • I had to get deeply in touch with my “why” for working from home. Helping to capitalize and stabilize our family and our long-term business and ministry projects was at the heart of my “why.” And since my “why” centered on deeply connecting with and providing for my family and our common goals, that meant that my work would need to facilitate both deep connection and adequate income.
  • I had to embrace my unique “how.” I have small children to homeschool, a husband who works full-time while freelancing on the side, and issues with chronic illness. In my life, I have to fit my work in around my mothering. I had to design solutions for my limited emotional, mental, attentional, and decision-making bandwidth. This is the precise reason why I helped create the Evergreen Planner. It acts as a hub for my brain—storing important details, providing a framework for my time, and allowing me the space to be intentional with each of my limited resources.
  • I had to trim my “what.” This was the most practical, results-driven part of my goal-tailoring journey. I had to get still, get real, and get focused on what mattered most to me in my career. I wanted to be a fully present mama, but I also wanted to be excellent in my work and serve others deeply through my efforts. I had to zero in on the things that would really move the needle forward on my work goals every single time I sat down at my desk, because time was limited (and this is why outlining goals for clarity is so critical!).
How I had to tailor my lifestyle:
  • I had to create daily and weekly rhythms. I had to create time-blocks for my hours and themes for my days, turning my chunks of time into buckets that would make organizing my tasks a lot easier. I had to automate as much as I possibly could, turning the mundane everyday things I needed to get done into automatic habits (so that not only would I stay on top of things, but so I could also free up a ton of emotional and decision-making energy for my work). I had to proactively make provisions for time with my kids, time to clean my home, time for working, and time for my community. All of this helped me feel mentally present for wherever I could show up, because I knew that I carved out time for all of my other responsibilities too.
  • I had to identify my lifestyle anchors. These were the things that were sure to happen at the same time, every day. My anchors were when my husband went to work (9am), when my kids needed to nap or do quiet time (1pm), when my husband got off work (5:30), and when my kids went to sleep (7pm). These lifestyle anchors formed the framework for the rest of my habits. Understanding the consequences of not honoring these anchor points helped me learn to proactively transition.
  • I had to schedule deep work intervals. Probably the most stressful seasons in my working life (outside of agreeing to insane deadlines) have happened because of I attempted to do work that needed 80% of my focus in the middle of a ton of distractions. Carving out time for deep work means making space for significant progress. This is time when I’m not on full-out-mom-duty (because the kids are sleeping or being cared for by Daddy), I’m not letting my phone distract me, and I’m not just pulling random work tasks out of an invisible hat. Deep work time is time spent fully focused on getting to a specific milestone of an important project. Deep work has looked different in different seasons. Sometimes it’s daily, and other times it happens in larger chunks on certain days. Crafting a lifestyle that makes space for me to have this time has meant that I can make tangible daily progress in my work goals and keep vocational commitments—even with a very busy household.
  • I had to create supportive habits. This has looked like consistently maturing in my morning and evening rhythms, improving my self-care habits, revisiting my boundaries around technology, regularly talking positively about my work with my kids (so they could become passionate about it too), learning better communication habits with my husband, developing techniques for sorting out my priorities and choosing what I allow to go on my schedule, and, of course, maintaining a strong habit of decluttering my brain and getting organized around my goals by leveraging my planner and this ROOTED goals system.
  • I had to make sure I had margin to breathe. I had to embrace that every choice came with a trade-off. God only gave me a limited amount of time—and it is enough time to get the really important things done. But in order to get the really important things done with that limited time, I would have to prioritize. And I would have to support my energy, bandwidth, and sanity with MARGIN. You can’t sustain a breakneck and packed schedule for long. Margin is the oil that keeps your gears from stripping, and allows you to actually enjoy your family and your work, instead of only ever feeling stressed and drained by them.

How to Get Started

How do you begin optimizing your goals and lifestyle? Start by asking what’s doable in both. By asking what’s doable, you get your first glimpse of the lines you need to draw and excess you need to trim in your expectations. Then you work from there, crafting rhythms, trimming excess, doing all I’ve talked about above.

If it feels overwhelming, take a deep breath. This is building sustainability for you, your family, your work. It will take time, but you can do it. And you don’t have to figure it out alone. The ROOTED Goals Workbook walks you step-by-step through exactly how you can do this in your unique life.