Shelby uses her planner while sitting on a sidewalk in the city.
December 30, 2020

She Couldn't Outwork the Overwhelm

If you've been following us on Instagram long, you are familiar with our favorite hashtag: #makespacetothrive. In a world full of hashtags, this may seem like nothing more than a snippet of motivation, a pithy phrase, or something fun to add on on top of photos. But for us, #makespacetothrive is a reminder of a key practice that moves us from overwhelm, to intentional living.

#MakeSpacetoThrive - The Desperate Story Behind the Hashtag

Back in 2016, Shelby was living in a non-stop, head-down, shoulder-to-the-grindstone hustle. She and her husband supported their tiny family with a home business and were always behind on deadlines. Every moment taken to just sit down and breathe—even just to eat dinner together without multitasking work—invited a crushing air of guilt into the atmosphere.

But there seemed no way to simply hustle more. After brain-dumping a giant todo list that took up seven sheets of paper, Shelby realized she was going to have to upgrade her productivity strategy—or she and her husband would never get ahead of the train.

Shelby turned to Google. Her husband gave her a couple of books he thought were relevant. They scheduled a meeting with a business mentor. Something, anything had to give. But every tip and tool she found didn't seem to get at the foundational issues of their current situation. No matter how disciplined she tried to be, it was never enough to move the needle.

Then She Found What She Was Missing

But then she found it. The missing piece. While there are no magic bullets in life, Shelby will tell you this is the closest thing she’s ever found to one. This is the element that has proved over and over again to be THE #1 strategy to consistent achievement and success that so many people completely miss.

And what was this missing ingredient? MARGIN. 

SPACE to thrive.

Margin is planned white-space for your day, your week, your home, your brain—space to breathe in #allthethings.

While there is certainly more to effective time-management than simply carving out more margin—it's simply impossible to level up without it.

How Creating Margin Can Change Your Life

Planning in margin (i.e. “making space to thrive”) shows up as a lot of things in our lives:

  • daily space to sit down, breathe deep, drink a hot cup of coffee, and have a strategy meeting with ourselves using the prompts in our planner
  • leaving for an appointment (or church or event or party) 15 minutes earlier than needed so that when we hit traffic or forget something or have a driveway adventure with a toddler, we're not freaking out
  • taking time to re-write your goals in your best handwriting, allowing you to fully emotionally process them and then display them so they stay top-of-mind
  • asking: "to what can I say 'no', cull, or renegotiate in this week to make it easier and calmer?"
  • getting up before the children (whether in the morning, or before naptime is over) and doing essential things so they don't get missed
  • taking time to exercise instead of putting off health goals until your workload lightens or the kids hit a magical age
  • keeping our homes clean, decluttered, and well-managed so that spontaneity feels fun instead of chaotic
  • saying "no" to a stretch goal in the business so we can make a nicer dinner than usual for our family just because we want to
  • turning off all of the notifications on our phones (except for calls from our husbands and mama, of course) and limiting social media so that new information isn't constantly taking a toll on our emotions
  • using our time-blocker to add 15 minutes of padding to the transitions in the day (meals, commutes, meetings, etc.), so we don't have to feel like insane people to get anything done on time

Margin transforms your schedule from a never-ending endurance race to a strategic agenda filled with life-giving rest periods. Margin helps you focus on what's essential, and then protects your intention, so that you can truly show up in the things that matter most.

Margin allows you time to process stuff instead of letting it build up and eat away at your mental bandwidth. With a lightened schedule, opportunities to be flexible, and a decluttered mind, margin exponentially reduces your stress—which in turn empowers you to be more creative, make more thoughtful decisions, and tackle complex problems with confidence and energy.

She Discovered What It Was Like to Breathe

Figuring out how to build life-giving margin into her life changed everything for Shelby. She started to set deadlines that were actually reasonable—and then hit them. She started to be on time more often. She began thinking clearly enough to show up in relationships, make her home a place of serenity, and actually produce work she thought was good.

It even helped her to find the space in her life to start this dream business with McCauley. She figured out which things were actually going to be worth all the effort in the long-run.

After years of practicing margin, prioritization and boundaries became intuitive—and Shelby discovered what it was like to breathe.

This is why our motto is “make space to thrive”. It's so much more than a hashtag or podcast name to us.

It's become our mantra for crafting life-giving lifestyles.


Are you ready to make space to thrive in your life? The Evergreen Planner was designed to help you achieve this goal.