Post Updated on June 11, 2020
Do you ever get to the end of the month and wonder if you’ve actually accomplished anything? It might seem like you’ve been working constantly, yet you can’t remember what you were even working on.
If you live by daily to-do lists, you might not be working in alignment with your bigger goals and priorities. It’s easy to get into autopilot mode and do the same things day in and day out without actually making progress on what matters.
That’s why I’m a huge fan of monthly planning. For the past year or so, I’ve gotten into the habit of planning my months ahead of time.
I’m someone who feels anxious and stressed if I’m not prepared, so this process has been a game changer for reducing my stress levels. It’s also helped me to stay on top of everything I need to get done and anticipate what’s to come.
I love seeing how other people plan their time, so I thought I’d share how I plan ahead and set my month up for success. I hope my monthly planning process inspires you to plan and organize your schedule ahead of time!
The Benefits of Monthly Planning
Maybe you’re wondering why you should plan your month ahead of time. Of course it’s not totally necessary, but here are a few reasons why you might want to try it:
You’ll feel like you have your life together
I’ve always been the type to plan ahead because it makes me feel prepared for what’s to come. I’m not a huge fan of winging it, and I try to avoid it when possible. Though things don’t always go to plan, creating a monthly outline can reduce unnecessary stress and make you feel like you’re on top of your game.
You won’t let things fall through the cracks
I find that planning my month ahead of time helps me stay on track with my goals. Instead of going through the month on autopilot, I can take into consideration my long term goals and vision for the future. That way, I’m more likely to make progress on them.
You won’t feel rushed to get things done
When you have a plan for the month, it gives you a sense of what you can realistically get done. By planning ahead of time, you can space out what needs to get done without feeling rushed. After all, if you try to work on too many projects in the same week, it’s only going to overwhelm you.
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”– Alexander Graham Bell
Monthly Planning Preparation
Before you start planning out your month, it’s helpful to get organized with a few different tools. Here’s what I use:
- A notebook to dump out ideas and plans for the month.
- A monthly calendar to keep track of appointments. I prefer Google Calendar because I can move things around with ease.
- A tool for managing your projects, tasks, due dates, and recurring tasks. I recommend Asana or Trello, but you can also use a paper planner like the Erin Condren LifePlanner (pictured above).
When to Plan
I like to plan my month the week before it starts. This gives me time to get prepared so I’m not doing it all on the first of the month. That being said, you can still plan the rest of your month now no matter how much time you have left in the month.
Monthly Planning Process
1. Review Goals
Before I start planning out my month, I review the yearly goals I’ve set for myself. You can read this post here about how I set and plan out my goals. Reviewing my goals helps me remember what I should be focused on so that I’m planning tasks that align with my bigger priorities.
2. Calendar Overview
I’ll take a look at my Google Calendar for the month and see what I have going on. This reminds me of appointments, events, and dates I need to plan around that I’d probably forget otherwise. I’ll also use this time to look through emails and messages to see if I have any other appointments to plan for.
3. Content Planning
I usually plan my blog content out on a quarterly basis and then split my months into certain themes. When I’m planning my month, I’ll review what my monthly theme is and the content I have planned. I’ll then outline each blog post and rearrange my blog and newsletter topics into an order that makes sense.
4. Project Planning
I have a running list of projects that I want to work on, such as program creation, website updates, and promotions. I’ll take a look at the list and figure out which projects I want to work on this month or need to continue working on. Once I’ve decided on those, I’ll break the projects down into smaller steps in Asana and set due dates for each task. That way, I know what to work on for each week of the month.
5. Weekly Outlines
If I want to get SUPER on top of my game (I’ll be honest, I don’t always do this), I’ll make an outline in my notebook for each week. In my outline, I’ll include my top three priorities for each week so that I know exactly what to focus on. Of course these things can change, but you can never be too prepared, right?
Do you plan your months in advance?
I hope this post has encouraged you to try monthly planning and see how it can work for you. It’s been a game-changer for increasing my productivity and reducing my stress levels, so I hope it helps you too. I’d love to know how you plan your months if you have your own method!