December 8, 2021

How to Get the Most Out of Your Annual

If you’ve been hanging around here for long, you know we are all about planning that is simple to implement and customizable to your unique season and lifestyle. Our undated Annual booklet does both of these things beautifully. The design perfectly combines the ideas of absolute simplicity and maximum flexibility into a calendar you can carry with you wherever you go.

The New Year is only a few weeks away, and many of you are busting out a crisp new Annual and dreaming of all 2022 will bring. If you’ve used our Annual in the past, you know it is full of blank bullet pages that you can use in a way that fits your current season and needs. It can be a process figuring out exactly how you want to use the blank pages of your Annual, so this post is full of inspiring ideas (most of these come straight from how team Evergreen has used the Annual this last year).

Before we begin, it’s crucial to remember that above all this is a productivity tool. We love this booklet because – as the bullet journaling community has taught us – a simple notebook can so easily become a beautiful keepsake you’ll look at for years to come. But, it doesn’t have to be aesthetically pleasing for it to be useful. So if you’re Annual is full of messy handwriting, scribbled dreams and planned events, rest assured you’re using your Annual perfectly. This post is full of ideas on how to maximize the use of your Annual, but don’t let these ideas turn in to a to-do list!! Use what is helpful for your unique season and let the rest fall away.

How to Set up Your Annual for a New Year

Our Annual booklet is undated, enabling you to start it at any time in the year. As January is right around the corner, most will be starting with the New Year, but you’ll still want to sit down first thing and write in each month’s date for the entire year and stick on your botanical month stickers (or your own favorite sticker pack!). Here are two simple tips when it comes to planning dates ahead of time with your Annual:

  • Use pencil when writing in future dates. Writing in pencil enables you to keep events on your radar, while also easily being able to erase and change as plans shift or commitments have to be whittled down. (Clari uses washi tape marked with Sharpie to denote when she’s hosting company. The visual difference helps immediately remind her of the prep work that will be needed to host, and the washi enables it to be easily removed if guests have to adjust plans.)
  • Only write events & holidays relevant to you this year. This is simple, but it can be easy to bust out a new undated Annual, look up standard holidays and be writing in Presidents Day in February before you even realize what you are doing. If you aren’t tied to a school calendar, President’s Day will have little bearing on your year, but it’ll be begging for attention come February and your brain will spend wasted time wondering why it’s there. Write in only events that you need to show up for mentally or physically, and as we mentioned above, use pencil until plans seem absolute.

Keeping your Annual clear and minimal will enable your brain to have absolute clarity when it comes to planning each month. You’ll open a new month and know exactly what events and dates you’re committed to, and be able to plan and purge commitments as needed.

How to maximize the use of the blank bullet pages at the front and back of the Annual:

The front of the Annual has three pages of blank bullet space and the back has one page. Here are some ways we’ve used these blank pages in our booklets:

How to maximize the use of the blank bullet pages that accompany each month spread:

Each month has a simple calendar grid, a blank bullet grid opposite and then a full spread of additional blank bullet space. Here are some ways our team has used this blank space this year:

  • Writing focus points or goals for the month/quarter
  • Listing critical to-do items
  • Charting week rhythms for the month
  • Brainstorming ideas and goals
  • Journaling important events
  • Planning work tasks
  • Tracking monthly reading
  • Capturing highlights from the month
  • Storing any paper mementos (a note from a friend, drawing from a child, photo, etc.)

McCauley loves to write future month goal ideas lightly in pencil as she is brainstorming them, and then going back in with pen once her goals are finalized. Shelby utilizes endless paperclips to store notes or to-do lists for herself in future months, so when she turns to a new month, all her thoughts and ideas are there waiting for her.

As we said at the start, the Annual is not primarily a scrapbooking tool, but if you’re interested in adding a little more fun to your Annual this year check out our blog post that gives simple ways to add some beauty to your planner.

You may find that you use your Annual’s blank space in the same way each month, or you may find that you change it up to fit your needs as they fluctuate. We’ve found that our use of the Annual can ebb and flow quite a bit. In some seasons, we really sink into the beauty and aesthetic possibilities of the Annual, in others we simply jot our critical lists, prioritize tasks and then hit the ground running. At the end of the day, it’s all about what you need for your current season.

January 6, 2021

How R.O.O.T.E.D. Goals Can Help You Thrive in 2021

I (Shelby) recently asked a very creative, capable, hard-working woman how traditional goal-setting methods had failed her in the past.

She answered and said that traditional goal setting methods failed to help her make a bridge between the accomplishment of her most important goals and the life she was actually living in the present.

I could completely relate to those feelings.

Last week we told the story of how I plowed through stacks of time-management books, articles, and podcasts a few years ago when I found myself absolutely overwhelmed with the demands of working full-time hours from home, first-time motherhood, and chronic illness.

I learned so much from the top gurus in the time-management, goal-setting and personal growth habits space. But one thing I started to notice was that many of the tips and strategies assumed something that I couldn’t relate to—they assumed that I’d be able get away to a kid-free office for eight hours per day and take twenty minutes before or after work to think, strategize, and walk through my goal-setting rituals. I began to realize something important. If I had any hope of truly taking action on anything I was learning, I would have to transpose all of these amazing CEO strategies into my real life context—toddler-crowded, macaroni-stained, cartoon-clanging kitchen “office” and all.

I also learned something extremely important after doing one particularly invigorating goal-setting exercise that fell flat in about three weeks. As good as I was at dreaming big and reverse-engineering my goals from A-to-Z, I couldn’t set arbitrary goals and hope to have the stamina to meet them. Unless I found a way to integrate my long-term goals with my family’s daily good, my goals were shot. I just couldn’t stand to poke my head up from my goal-executing-scramble and see my little family starving for my time and attention.

The verdict was in. If it was going to be a contest between my paper goals, and my real, living, breathing heart goals (which were represented by my closest relationships, the atmosphere in my home, and the unexpected needs of others in my local community)—the paper goals were going to lose every time.

But I knew that I was called to more than just reacting and responding to the urgent expectations, requests, and whims of the people in my life. I was called to be proactive, to initiate, to solve big problems, and to make space for the important things. I could envision ways to cultivate abundance in the gaps of life where no one else could. I was put here for a purpose, and I wanted to keep growing into that God-given potential.

I knew that goal-setting could help me level-up from the realm of wishful thinking and begin to make the changes (big and small) that would empower me and my family to truly thrive. But I also knew from experience that S.M.A.R.T. goals weren’t going to cut it.

The deepest currents of our lives that needed my proactive and steady nurture in order to be routed into something that gave us life (instead of drowning us in the overwhelm of it all) propelled me far past the bare mechanics of goal execution. I needed to cut back the layers of excuses and get to the heart of my “why” for living intentionally and setting significant goals for personal and familial progress. The bridge I built between my future goals and my current life context needed to be suspended by the things that were actually essential to a life well-lived.

This deep dive into my core values resulted in the development of a completely new approach to goal-setting. Instead of inadvertently introducing a contest between my goals and the “obstacles” of my life, I crafted the lifestyle that I and my family craved THROUGH the goals I set and accomplished. In turn, our new lifestyle made so much space for personal growth and productivity that it’s actually begun to fuel some of the most challenging and life-giving goals that I’ve ever dared to imagine. 

​And here’s the key: Sustainable, Game-Changing, Life-Giving Goals are…​