Hey! You made it to Day 2 of the How to Plan Planning Challenge! Welcome back…today we’re going to be talking about planning your month.
Planning your month is a useful tool for helping you to reach your goals while still keeping all of your dates, appointments, birthdays and other reminders in one place where you can see it all at a glance.
When you plan your appointments and important dates, you should always be writing it down in your calendar. I love using my iCal on my iPhone because it’s always with me. If I am at the doctor’s office and they schedule my next appointment, I instantly pull out my phone and input that appointment for the correct date and time. This way I am not trying to remember everything in my head. When it’s on my calendar, I’m sure I won’t forget it or plan something else during that time.
However, planning your months isn’t just about appointments and dates, it can be used as a useful tool in helping you to achieve your goals too!
As part of the planning process, we started off with planning your year, now the next step is planning your month. Planning your month should be based off of your high level planning when you were planning your year. Keep reading to find out how exactly how to plan your months.
STEP 1: REVIEW YOUR GOALS
Get clear on where you are at right now. Take a look at your yearly plans again. Life happens, so each month can be different. It’s important to keep checking back on your big goals and seeing your progress. This is the time to make adjustments and determine what action to take next. For your quarterly goals what was your main focus? Break down those quarterly goals into monthly milestones so you have a focus for each month. Clear out all of your notes, lists and any other reference materials you may jotted down. Take action on them or eliminate them.
Some questions to ask yourself when planning your months include:
- Am I on track?
- How can I align with my goals?
- Are there any projects that I need to finish?
- What new projects can I do this month to reach my goals?
STEP 2: UPDATE ROUTINES & HOME MANAGEMENT BINDER
Take a look at your routines, time management, and your household. What needs to be adjusted? Do you need to wake up earlier to avoid stressful mornings? Do you need to start working out right after dropping the kids off at school? Think of these questions to help you make your routines better:
- How can I make this month better?
- What in my schedule can I move around?
- How can I schedule more time to work on my projects/goals?
This is also a good time to make sure your household is up to date. If you have a home management binder fill in and update your records for the following:
- Cleaning schedules
- Car maintenance
- Holidays, Anniversaries and Birthdays etc.
STEP 3: GET AN OVERVIEW OF YOUR MONTH
- Plan out all of your appointments, events, birthdays and other committed events onto your calendar.
- Check your annual calendars to see if there was anything planned for this month.
- What are your monthly goals for the month?
- Color-code different categories of your life in your calendar so it’s easy to see at a glance what is on your schedule.
- Examples may include: Personal, Family, Business, Health/Fitness, School etc.
- Doing this will help you to see how much free time you have in your month
- Every season of life includes different priorities, if this is a busy month for you try not to plan too much. Break up your tasks and spread them out according to your schedule. Make it reasonable.
STEP 4: BRAINSTORM A LIST OF ALL TASKS RELATED TO PROJECTS/GOALS
Now that you’ve set up the basics for the month, it’s time to think of what we need to do in order to move forward on our projects or goals.
- Brainstorm all of your tasks related to your monthly project or goal. Don’t think about the order or when you will complete them just make a list for now.
- What do you need to do in order to complete your project?
- What are your next action steps?
- Check back on your goals/projects planner to see if you can break down those milestones even further.
- Even if you can’t think of what you need to do, as long as you write the first next action, that would be enough to get you started.
STEP 5: SET UP HABITS FOR THE MONTHS
In order to be successful in our goals, we need to make it a part of our daily routine, we need to make it a system in our daily life. To make it a system, you need to create daily habits. So if your goal is to run a marathon, you need to be running every day for 30 minutes, drinking 8 cups of water, and getting in at least 15 minutes of exercise every day. But if you are just starting and cannot keep up with so many new habits at once, try sticking to just one key habit per month. As months pass, you can continue to add more habits that will contribute to you reaching your goals. Read more about how using systems can make your goals happen here.
- Figure out what your key habits for the month will be. Focus on only 1-2 key habits per month.
To be successful with your habits it’s good to have a visual to help you keep track of your habits. Use a habit tracker to keep you accountable.
STEP 6: SCHEDULE IN YOUR GOALS/PROJECTS/TASKS INTO YOUR CALENDAR
Break large monthly projects into weekly sub-projects. Think of these like milestones you want to reach for the larger project you want to complete for that month.
Plan out the individual tasks for that month and assign them to a week, so that you know what you need to be working at every step of the way. You should try to aim for only 3-4 big tasks per week each month. Set a deadline for your projects and tasks.
This might seem obvious, but often we stop at large-level goals, like annual or monthly goals, and never stop to think about the work involved daily or weekly to get to the goals, and that’s where most of us trip up.
STEP 7: ESTIMATE YOUR TIME
Estimate how long each task will take you to do.
This will help you to see if you can realistically get those tasks done in the days/weeks you scheduled them for.
- If you find that total tasks you scheduled for your week totaled to 40 hours a week, but you only have 20 hours available to work on your goals then you may need to spread those tasks further apart to accommodate your schedule.
STEP 8: REVIEW YOUR PLANS
Plan for monthly reviews and weekly task breakdowns. This will give you clarity on what you need to focus on each day, increasing the likelihood of you actually accomplishing your target for the month. These reviews will help you celebrate when you finished what you actually set out to do, and/or gives you the opportunity to readjust your goals and tasks for the next month.
ACTION STEP: Now take the time to plan out your months, using my step-by-step method, each and every month. Planning time to plan is crucial in helping you to become more productive and organized.