planner hack

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.

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March 2, 2022

Quickstart Your Planning – Podcast Ep 9

Listen to episode 10 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.

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February 9, 2022

Setting ROOTED Goals: Etched in Your Memory

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


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.

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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.