It all began when a frazzled young work-from-home mama slapped a well-worn spiral notebook onto a makeshift desk and hurriedly sketched out a personalized planner. Shelby had ambition and grit, but she absolutely needed to get organized.
Every planner she bought only seemed to add to the overwhelm.
She'd given up on them all. These planner sheets were her final attempt at getting the cacophony of needs and responsibilities out of her head and onto paper so she could step back and sort through them with a clear mind.
Finally, a decluttered mind.
A few weeks later, Shelby carried a folder stuffed with her planner sheets into McCauley's home.
Shelby's brain felt...decluttered. Her thoughts were spilled out on each sheet and thoughtfully organized. Her most urgent tasks were clarified. Her goals for crafting a more sustainable lifestyle were beginning to be mapped onto her shedule.
Every stroke of her pencil had lightened her mental load, and it reflected in her step.
"Here's something I made and have been using lately." Shelby handed the folder to her sister sheepishly. "They're really helping me see and stay focused on the tasks I need to do next to stay on track with what matters most."
Although McCauley was in a similar season of life—a new baby balanced with a business she'd started on her livingroom floor—Shelby was always amazed at how beautifully McCauley prioritized.
She had been studying McCauley's approach to time-management, and her handmade worksheets were an attempt at reverse-engineering what seemed to have always come intuitively to her sister.
The planner sheets she had made had finally given Shelby a glimmer of hope that a strong approach to time-management was possible for her too.
It all started with a decluttered mind—and all of her thoughts out of her brain and on paper, in one centralized place, where she could manage them proactively and objectively.
To Shelby's surprise, McCauley studied the designs intently. "I want to try these. I need to get all of my own details into one place. Can I keep a few pages?"
But what if a planner could do it all?
McCauley used the planner sheets. Then she called a meeting. She wanted to make the planner sheets into a real planner that you could hold in your hands.
Starting businesses together was something Shelby and McCauley had been doing since they were 7 and 5. As teenagers, they moved into the same bedroom so they could use the other one as a joint studio-office. They'd painted it mint green and would work long into the night crafting, designing websites, hammering out copy, and dreaming about the future.
Now, with babies in carriers and drafting supplies covering every inch of the kitchen table, Shelby and McCauley were shuffling layouts and features like puzzle pieces, discussing the parts of Shelby's original designs that were magic for them both.
"Here are the problems I have with the current planner options on the market" Shelby explained, pointing to the stack of planners she'd invested in over the past year.
"This one was awesome for challenging me to set strong goals, but as soon as I started digging into my week planning, I forgot to reference those goals. And when I tried to flip back and find all the awesome things I brainstormed, I started to get lost in my planner. I found I was spending way more time using my planner than actually getting the things I was planning done.
Shelby held up a dark blue volume. "And then this one—I really like these prompts, but the whole layout was so business-centric that I didn't have room for tracking my household responsibilities. I found that made it hard to stay emotionally connected to the other areas of my life besides work, and I would start to plan as if work was the only thing I had on my plate.
Shelby gestured to an advertisement she had pulled up on her phone. "So I thought about maybe getting a planner designed for household management. But..."
"But then you'd have to carry around two planners." McCauley finished her sentence. "And also, the aesthetics of the home-centered planners I've seen are so...set in stone."
"Yeah. I'd really like to stick to something classic and minimalistic. I want my planner to honor both my role as a homemaker and a professional." Shelby agreed.
"Plus, trying to keep up with multiple planners at once? So confusing!" McCauley exclaimed. "That's my problem. I'm walking all over the house to try to sync calendars, and trying to remember which notebook has my menu, or which one has the patterns I drafted."
"Right." Shelby said. "And I tried bullet journaling to solve that problem—keep it all in one space, right?" Shelby opened a notebook sporting her bujo attempts. "And I loved this dutchdoor layout I created with an x-acto knife because it allowed me to see my week the whole time I was planning my day."
"So you don't overbook your day!" McCauley exclaimed.
"Yes, and so I don't forget to prioritize in light of something that's coming up later in the week." Shelby added.
"Why didn't you keep bullet journaling?" McCauley asked. "I love the idea of designing a planner that matches your own personality and priorities perfectly."
"Basic bullet journaling didn't have enough structure for me—I needed the timeblocker and calendar. But then when I tried to get creative and just design my own layouts, I found that I couldn't just keep redrawing layouts every day!" Shelby answered. "Getting out the rulers and being tempted to reinvent the wheel every time... it just really took a hit to my productivity. I need a planner that has all of the basic structure so I can get into a good planner habit and stay organized."
"I can see that." McCauley flipped open a traditional planner.
"But I do want a lot of extras, besides just calendars and timeblockers. Like I said: the dutchdoors seem like a must to me. I have no idea how you'd manufacture something like that. And I'd want a place for recipes, budgeting, goal-setting..."
Shelby fingered a three-ringed binder she'd been stuffing with ideal features and prompts.
"Wait, what if... what if you could have a planner with interchangeable booklets so you can create a system that best matches your own personality and season? I personally wouldn't keep everything in my planner you'd want to keep in yours."
"But it still has the basic structure for a strong, consistent planning habit? How exactly would you do that?"
"I'm not a fan of rings and spirals. I want a planner that will last well, and that I'll want to carry around. I'm imagining a traveler's journal style..."
The sisters continued to reimagine the perfect day planner. Tossing out conventional boundaries and manufacturing constraints, they brainstormed until they'd dreamt up an analog planner that boasted maximum functionality, flexibility, and elegance.
"I don't know how we'll make this, though." Shelby's mind was boggled.
"You know us." McCauley's eyes twinkled. "We can figure out anything together."
The Evergreen Planner is Born
Weeks later, their sides were splitting with laughter as they jabbed ice-picks through the spines of handmade booklets and learned how to sew binding.
McCauley fantasized the cover that would bind it all together into one beautiful unit—and worked with leather and a heavy-duty Singer on her living room floor until she achieved a working prototype.
Shelby was floored as she held a real life example of what McCauley had been trying to describe to her before. With this format for a planner, the possibilities for building a perfectly customized system were endless.
Soon, they'd each replaced their entire networks of calendars, sticky-notes, and journals with their prototypes.
They were most shocked to discover that they'd developed a system that was structured enough to get them both organized, yet flexible enough to work for their polar opposite personalities.
"We’re going to turn this into a legit business, Shel." McCauley's eyes shined.
"I would've never believed we would both love the same planner. And it's helping me accomplish so much more every day. Can you imagine how many other women this could help?" Shelby asked her.
But it was only the beginning.
In those moments at McCauley's kitchen table—with nights spent distilling top productivity principles down into a single spread, husbands volunteering to help with typesetting and leatherwork, and various paper weights being tested with calligraphy pens while nursing our babies—the Evergreen Planner System sparked to life.
An Absolutely Essential Tool
As the sisters tested the final renditions of their new system, they were amazed to see how it stood up to the test of time.
Not only was it comprehensively useful in basically every area of their lives, but it was becoming absolutely essential to their progress and personal growth.
"It's like it's evolving alongside my own journey to manage time well." Shelby said in awe.
"I love mine." McCauley raved. "It's like a hub for my brain."
The novelty never wore off.
It not only organized them powerfully as they tackled the daily responsibilities, it also propelled them forward in the long-term goals that beat inside each of their hearts.
It kept them focused, helped them cultivate working memories around their most important objectives, and became a constant companion for decluttering their minds and ascertaining what was best next.
But it was only the beginning.
Several friends volunteered to field test the system. These wonderful humans provided invaluable feedback, helping to refine the planner further. They started to have the same amazing results Shelby and McCauley had been experiencing. More women started asking when the planner would be available for purchase.
Bringing this planner into the marketplace was no longer a matter of late night dream-casting. Getting this incredible tool into the hands of as many women as possible became a core mission.
Three-and-a-half years of field testing, half a dozen babies, hundreds of hours of productivity research, five major prototype models, and (approximately) 7,665 cups of coffee later...
...and the Evergreen Planner system finally came to life in December of 2019.
It is the only planner on the market to feature the innovative dutchdoor layout, which allows you to plan each day in the context of your weekly goals and agenda.
Gorgeous, minimalistic, and ridiculously intuitive, the booklet planner system boasts an unprecedented balance of robust structure with fully customizable flexibility.
With designs refined by the hands of a seasoned leathersmith, our locally crafted Cover has surpassed even the sisters’ wildest dreams.
And the entire system is supported by a game-changing podcast, a revolutionary new approach to goal setting, a quarterly subscription that keeps your planning habits fire, and a growing online community called the Evergreen Collective.
In December 2019, Shelby and McCauley launched their first humble booklet, hoping to raise enough capital to fund the manufacturing of their full system.
They were fully funded in a day, and the following launch generated so many sales in the first two hours that Shelby and McCauley were rendered speechless—and started praying for another team member to help handle the volume of customers.
God brought Clari to the team in the Spring of 2020, turning the visionary duo into a powerhouse trio.
And as the whole world grappled with unsettling events that challenged to families re-examine priorities and individuals to uplevel in their capacities of self-management, the number of people who found a solution in the Evergreen Planner steadily climbed upward.
Every “this is the first planner I've used consistently” and “this planner finally helped me follow through on my most important goals” message that the team has received has been like gasoline on fire.
Now in their fourth year of business, Shelby, McCauley, and Clari remain confident about one thing. This is only the beginning.
Are you interested in trying the heart of the Evergreen Planner system for free? Check out this free printable day planner sheet! Like those original sheets Shelby created, you can use this printable to effectively plan your days until you're ready to jump into the entire Evergreen Planner system.