Several years ago I read a book titled The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark. The topic of the book was home organization, but the author took an approach that was entirely new to me. The gist of it was this: instead of spending so much time cleaning up your house as is, take the time to set up your home in a way that it will clean itself.
She recommended you take time to really evaluate your home, including taking pictures to give yourself a new perspective, keeping an eye out for messy spots in the home, and to get really, really specific about the types of things you were always cleaning (be it toy blocks, laundry, shoes, school bags, etc.). Once you knew what was causing most of the cleaning issues, you could brainstorm extremely specific solutions for those issues.
Have you wondered how we approach planning? Or what advice we give when we talk with friends about planning? Are you simply curious to know more about us?
For the final episode of this season of our podcast, we dive into questions we received from our community! They range from personal questions, to planner-related questions, to general productivity questions.
Join us for a laid back and fun conversation!
Time-blocking is a powerful productivity tool for maximizing the amount of time you have available, and for liberating your time to focus on what matters most. Yet over the years of talking to women who use our planner (and others who have a heart for intentional living), we’ve found that many of people are intimidated by the concept of time-blocking, don’t know how to make it work for them, or simply feel like it’s just too structured and stiff.
We totally get this! No one wants to feel pressure to make their intuitive daily rhythms “work” on paper before they're "allowed" to move forward on them. No one wants to feel like there’s no flexibility for spontaneity, or to feel false-guilt when things don’t go “as planned.”
Thankfully, the way we approach time-blocking feels nothing like putting a straight-jacket on your day.
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.
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.
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."
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.
We know the to-do 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 to-do list that grows faster than you can manage.
The Problem with To-Do Lists
To-do 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. To-do 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.
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 (download for free at the bottom of this post).
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.
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!
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.