How to plan for a new month and do it with ease
Let’s talk about monthly planning.
Are you tired of feeling overwhelmed by your monthly to-do list? Do you find it difficult to keep track of important deadlines and appointments? If this is the case, you’re not alone.
Many of us lead hectic lives that can be difficult to manage. But don’t worry; month-by-month planning is here to save the day! In this post, we’ll look at monthly planning: what it is, why it’s important, and how to make the most of it. So, grab your favorite planner, and let’s begin!
What is monthly planning, and why is it beneficial?
Having a plan for the month can help you stay on top of your tasks and responsibilities. Essentially, it entails planning your goals, appointments, deadlines, and other important events at the beginning of each month (or at the end of the month if that suits you better).
By doing so, you can ensure that you’re making good use of your time and progressing toward your long-term goals.
One of the primary advantages of monthly planning is the ability to see the big picture. When you plan your month ahead of time, you can get a sense of what’s coming up and ensure that you’re allocating your time and energy as efficiently as possible.
This is especially useful if you’re juggling many projects or responsibilities at the same time.
Another benefit of planning by month is that it can help you remain focused and motivated.
You’re more likely to stay on track and avoid getting sidetracked by distractions or competing priorities if you have a clear sense of what you’re working toward and what steps you need to take to get there.
For example, let’s say that you’re planning a big event at work that’s coming up in a few months. You can use your planning routine to break down the monthly tasks involved into manageable steps and schedule them over the next few weeks.
This can help you avoid the stress and last-minute scrambling that frequently accompany event planning.
Now, let’s get started with my monthly planning guide.
This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you click on a link and purchase something I recommend, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Let’s talk about how to plan your month
Reflect on the previous month
1. Analyze your monthly calendar
Before we learn all about how to write a monthly plan, we have to reflect on the past month.
Examine your calendar from the previous month to get a sense of what you accomplished and when. When reflecting on the previous month, it’s critical to pay close attention to your calendar.
Your calendar can be a great tool for understanding how you spent your time and determining your priorities over the previous month.
Take note of any important things, events, or appointments you had, as well as any deadlines or obligations you had to meet.
This can help you understand what consumed the majority of your time in the previous month. It can also help you plan for similar events or obligations in the coming month.
Besides, keep an eye out for any patterns or trends in your calendar.
For example, did you have a lot of meetings or appointments in one week? Did you spend a significant amount of time traveling or commuting? Were there any gaps in your schedule that you could have filled more effectively?
By reviewing your calendar in this manner, you can better understand your time management habits and identify areas where you can improve.
For example, if you notice that you’re consistently overscheduling yourself, you may need to rethink your daily planning strategy and prioritize more effectively.
2. Review your to-do list
The next step is to examine the tasks on your to-do list for the previous month and determine whether or not you completed them.
Examining your previous month’s to-do list is an important step in the monthly planning process. Your task list can give you an idea of what you wanted to accomplish in the previous month. It can also help you assess how successful you were in meeting those goals.
Ask yourself a few key questions as you go over your to-do list. First and foremost, did you complete all the tasks on your to-do list? If not, why not? Were there outside factors that prevented you from completing certain tasks, or did you simply fail to prioritize them properly?
Consider whether the daily tasks on your to-do list were in line with your monthly goals. Did you prioritize the most important and meaningful tasks, or did you become bogged down in smaller, less important tasks?
Then, consider how you felt while completing your to-do list. Did the tasks you were working on energize and motivate you, or did they drain and overwhelm you?
Understanding your emotional reaction to your to-do list can help you make changes to your approach to planning and productivity in the coming month.
3. Review your goals
Check in on any monthly goals you set and assess your progress toward achieving them. Reviewing your previous month’s goals is an important step among these monthly planning ideas.
Goals provide direction and purpose, so it’s critical to check in on them on a regular basis to ensure you’re on track.
Start by reviewing both the personal goals and professional goals (or even business goals if you have your own business) you set for the previous month. Did you complete them?
If so, congratulate yourself! Take a moment to be proud of yourself for the hard work you put in to achieve your goals.
It’s also fine if you didn’t meet your goals. Use this time to think about what went wrong and what you can do differently in the coming month.
Did you set unrealistic goals, or did unforeseen events hinder your progress? Were there any habits or behaviors that were impeding your progress toward your goals? Consider these details as you make plans for the coming month.
In addition to reviewing your progress toward previous goals, it’s critical to set new ones for the coming month. Make certain that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable, and that they are consistent with your vision and values.
4. Identify successes and challenges
Consider what went well for you in the previous month as well as any challenges or obstacles you encountered.
When reviewing the previous month, it’s important to consider not only your goals and to-do lists but also to step back and consider the big picture. This entails reflecting on both your successes and challenges over the previous month.
Start by identifying your accomplishments. What accomplishments do you feel particularly proud of?
It could be as simple as sticking to a workout routine or finishing a book you’ve been meaning to read for a long time. Whatever it is, take a moment to congratulate yourself and give yourself a pat on the back.
Consider the difficulties or challenges you encountered.
What kept you from achieving certain goals or completing certain tasks? Was it a lack of motivation, a lack of time, or unforeseen events? By identifying these obstacles, you can start to plan strategies to overcome them in the coming month.
It’s critical to approach this step with an open mind. Everyone has setbacks and challenges from time to time, and that’s fine. The important thing is to learn from them and use them to grow and improve.
One approach to this step is to record your accomplishments and challenges in a journal or weekly planner. This can help you visually see what went well and what didn’t, as well as provide insight into what changes you should make for the next month.
5. Reflect on your habits
Consider any habits you developed in the previous month, whether positive or negative, and how they affected your productivity and well-being. When reflecting on your habits, take a step back and assess how they are affecting your personal life as well.
Have you formed any new habits in the last month that have made you feel more productive, focused, or relaxed?
Maybe you started meditating every morning, which helped you stay centered and focused throughout the day. Perhaps you developed the habit of going for a walk after work, which helped you clear your mind and relax after a long day.
On the other hand, you may have developed some bad habits in the previous month that you want to break.
Perhaps you found yourself scrolling through social media for hours on end, leaving you exhausted and unproductive. Maybe you were staying up too late binge-watching your favorite show, making it difficult to wake up feeling rested and energized in the morning.
By reflecting on your habits, you can start to identify which ones are beneficial to you and which are detrimental. From there, you can devise a strategy to reinforce positive habits while replacing negative ones with healthier alternatives. You can use a habit tracker for that.
6. Evaluate your time management
Consider how you spent your time last month and whether you were able to prioritize effectively. When assessing your time management, be honest with yourself about how you spent your time the previous month.
Have you spent a lot of time on social media or watching television? Did you spend too much time on non-priority tasks while ignoring more important ones? Reflecting on these questions can help you identify areas where you could improve your time management in the future.
A time-tracking app or tool can help you see exactly how much time you’re spending on different activities. You can then analyze this data to identify any patterns or trends affecting your productivity.
You may notice, for example, that you’re more productive in the morning and less productive in the afternoon, and you can adjust your monthly schedule accordingly.
Another way to assess your time management skills is to consider how well you prioritized. Did you prioritize the most important tasks first, or did you get sidetracked by less important ones?
The “eat the frog” approach, in which you tackle your most difficult or important task first thing in the morning, when you have the most energy and focus, is an effective strategy for prioritizing.
Planning for the next month
1. Set goals
As part of your monthly overview, determine your goals for the entire month and make sure they’re specific, measurable, and realistic.
Setting goals is an important part of any long-term planning process, including monthly planning. Take some time to consider what you want to accomplish in the coming month. Make sure your goals are SMART goals.
Instead of a broad goal like “exercise more,” try something more specific like “go for a 30-minute walk every day after work.”
This goal is measurable because you can track whether or not you completed the daily walk. It’s realistic because it requires a manageable time commitment that fits into most schedules.
It’s also critical to ensure that your goals are consistent with your larger aspirations (yearly goals) and values. If your monthly goal doesn’t contribute to your overall life vision, you may find it difficult to stay motivated and focused.
2. Prioritize tasks
To plan a new month, make a list of the tasks you must complete in order to meet your goals and prioritize them based on their importance and urgency.
Once you’ve identified your monthly goals, it’s critical to break them down into smaller, actionable tasks. You can accomplish this by creating a list of all the tasks that you must complete in order to achieve each goal.
It’s now time to prioritize those tasks. Consider which tasks are critical and which are time-sensitive. What’s the most important thing to do first? What can be put off until later?
You can assign tasks a level of importance or urgency, such as high, medium, or low priority. You could also use a system like the Eisenhower matrix, which categorizes tasks based on their importance and urgency.
3. Schedule events
When you create a monthly schedule, don’t forget to schedule important events and appointments, such as meetings, deadlines, and social engagements, on your calendar. Scheduling events is an excellent way to keep track of your commitments and stay on top of things.
Whether you have a hectic work schedule, an active social life, or personal obligations, it’s critical to make time for the things that are important to you.
To start, go through your calendar and mark any important events or appointments that you’re already aware of, such as work meetings, doctor’s appointments, or social gatherings. Make a note of these in your calendar so you don’t forget about them.
Next, consider any personal events or tasks you want to complete in the upcoming month, such as setting up a coffee date with a friend or attending a yoga class. Make a note of these in your calendar as well, and try to schedule them at a time that is convenient for you.
It’s also critical to consider your priorities and manage your time effectively when scheduling events. If you have a large project due at work, you may need to schedule more time for work-related tasks and less time for social activities.
Then, allow yourself plenty of time to prepare for each event or appointment. Whether you’re preparing for a work meeting or a social event, it’s always a good idea to allow yourself some extra time to ensure that you’re fully prepared and ready to go.
4. Create a to-do list
It’s time to do a brain dump. Make a monthly to-do list that includes both work and personal tasks. Making a to-do list is the perfect way to stay organized and ensure that you complete all your tasks for the month ahead. Make a list that includes both work-related and personal tasks.
Start by listing all the tasks you need to complete in the next month. This can range from finishing a work project to making a doctor’s appointment to planning a weekend getaway. After you’ve made a thorough list, prioritize the tasks based on their importance and urgency.
You can also break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. For example, if you want to finish a work project, divide it into individual tasks like research, drafting, and editing. This will make the task less daunting and easier to complete.
Once you’ve prioritized your list, fill in your monthly pages by transferring it to a calendar or daily planner. Then assign due dates to each task. This will keep you on track and ensure that you complete everything on time.
If you’re looking for a simple monthly planner template, Canva has lots of free ones.
5. Allocate time
Set aside time for each task, and make sure you have enough time to work on your goals. Setting aside time for each task helps you avoid procrastination and last-minute stress by ensuring that you have a clear plan for when you’ll work on each task.
To start allocating time for your tasks, estimate how long each task will take to complete. Be realistic about potential distractions or interruptions. Then, add each task to your calendar, leaving enough time between tasks for breaks or unexpected delays.
When allocating time, remember to prioritize your tasks. Prioritize the most important and urgent tasks first, and devote more time to them if necessary.
Besides, it’s critical to be adaptable in your time management. Unexpected events or tasks may arise, necessitating a change in your schedule. Don’t be too rigid with your time allocation, and be willing to adjust as needed.
6. Review your budget for the next month
Review your budget and plan your monthly expenses. Make sure to budget for both necessities and discretionary spending. Managing your finances and setting monthly financial goals are important aspects of monthly planning.
To start, go over your previous month’s budget and see if there are any areas where you overspent or could cut back. Make a list of all your monthly expenses, including bills, groceries, transportation, and any other necessities.
After you’ve determined your necessary expenses, consider your discretionary spending. This includes activities such as dining out, entertainment, and shopping. Set a reasonable budget for these costs. Ensure that you can afford them without jeopardizing your financial stability.
Here’s the best budget planner that I personally use and swear by.
Remember to set aside money for your long-term financial goals, such as saving for a down payment on a house or paying off debt.
7. Do meal planning for the next month
Meal planning is the best way to save time and money while eating healthier and reducing food waste. To start meal planning for the coming month, make a list of the meals you want to prepare. Consider your dietary restrictions and preferences, as well as the ingredients you already have on hand.
Make a grocery list of the ingredients you’ll need once you’ve decided on a menu. To reduce waste and save money, choose ingredients that you can use in multiple meals.
Remember to include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks when planning your meals. You can also plan for leftovers, which you can eat the next day for lunch or freeze for later use.
To make meal planning even easier, consider using a meal planning app or service. Many of these apps allow you to input your dietary preferences and will generate meal plans for you. They also provide grocery lists and can help you track your food budget.
Here’s a meal planner that also includes grocery lists for menu planning! How cool is that?!
8. Plan for self-care
Don’t forget to schedule self-care activities like exercise, relaxation, and socializing to keep your mood up throughout the month. This is one of my favorite monthly planning tips because self-care is just as important as completing tasks and reaching goals.
It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget to prioritize our own health. That is why it’s critical to plan ahead of time for self-care activities.
Consider activities that will make you feel refreshed and rejuvenated. It could be as simple as going for a walk in the park, reading a book, or catching up with friends over coffee.
Make sure to schedule these activities into your calendar and give them the same level of importance as work-related tasks.
Also, prioritize your physical health by scheduling time for exercise and proper nutrition. This could include making time to go to the gym, attend a yoga class, or prepare healthy meals for the week.
Remember that self-care isn’t selfish; it is necessary for your well-being and productivity. So don’t forget to prepare!
How to use a monthly planner or a calendar
1. Choose the best planner or calendar that works best for you
The right planner or calendar is critical because it serves as the foundation for your organizational system. There are many options available, ranging from digital apps to paper planners to a wall calendar, so take your time determining what works best for you.
If you prefer a digital planner, you could use an app such as Google Calendar or Trello. If you prefer a paper planner, look for one with plenty of room for notes and goal-setting.
Whatever you decide, make sure it meets your requirements and preferences. I also like to use sticky notes as part of my project planning system.
2. Decide on a planning system for organizing your tasks and events
Once you’ve got your planner or calendar, you’ll need to devise a system for organizing your tasks and events.
Some people prefer to color-code their tasks based on priority or category, while others prefer to use various symbols or stickers. Experiment with various methods to see which one works best for you.
3. Fill in important dates and events
Fill in important dates and events, such as birthdays, holidays, and appointments, once your system is in place. This will give you a clear picture of your month and allow you to plan around those events.
4. Prioritize tasks and allocate time for each task
Then, prioritize tasks and allot time to each one. This will help you avoid overwhelm and ensure that you have enough time to complete each task. It’s important to be realistic with your time allocation and not overschedule yourself. You can also assign a deadline to each task to help you stay on track.
5. Regularly update and review your planner to stay on track
To stay on track, update and review your planner on a regular basis. This is an important part of using a monthly planner because it will allow you to adjust your plan as needed and avoid missing any important deadlines or events.
Set aside some time each week to review your planner and make any necessary changes.
20 best monthly habits for a successful week
1. Review your goals for the month and plan out the steps you need to take to achieve them.
2. Create a budget and stick to it to ensure financial stability.
3. Schedule regular exercise to maintain physical and mental health.
4. Meal plan and prepare healthy meals to fuel your body throughout the week.
5. Take time for self-care activities such as meditation, reading, or taking a relaxing bath.
6. Make time for socializing and building relationships with friends and family members.
7. Set aside dedicated time for work or study and minimize distractions during that time.
8. Get enough sleep each night to ensure that you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day.
9. Keep your living space clean and organized to reduce stress and increase productivity.
10. Take time to reflect on your achievements and areas for improvement over the past month.
11. Keep a gratitude journal to cultivate a positive mindset and increase appreciation for the small things in life.
12. Plan out your outfits for the next week to save time and reduce decision fatigue.
13. Schedule regular breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout.
14. Keep a to-do list and prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency.
15. Learn a new skill or take a course to expand your knowledge and improve your career prospects.
16. Volunteer or give back to your community in some way.
17. Take time to disconnect from technology and engage in activities that allow you to be present in the moment.
18. Read for pleasure to unwind and reduce stress.
19. Set aside time for screen-free hobbies or creative pursuits to nurture your passions.
20. Practice gratitude by thanking those around you and expressing appreciation for the things you have in your life.
13 monthly planning resources from Amazon:
• 2023 Planner – Weekly & Monthly Planner Runs from July 2023 to June 2024, 12 Monthly Tabs, 14 Notes Pages, Inner Pocket, Flexible Cover with Twin-Wire Binding
• Academic Planner 2023-2024 – Hourly 2023-2024 Planner Weekly and Monthly – Appointment Book with Flexible Cover, Twin-Wire Binding
• Panda Planner Pro – Best Daily Planner for Happiness & Productivity – Undated Day Planner – Guaranteed to Get You Organized – Gratitude & Goals
• 2023-2026 Monthly Planner – 3 Year Monthly Planner from July 2023 to June 2026
• Blue Sky 2023 Monthly Planner, January – December
• Gogirl Budget Planner and Monthly Bill Organizer – Financial Planner Organizer Budget Book. Bill Book to Control Your Money. Undated
• 2023-2024 Monthly Planner – Monthly Planner 2023-2024, 18-Monthly Planner from July 2023 – December 2024
• Legend Planner – Deluxe Weekly & Monthly Life Planner to Hit Your Goals & Live Happier. Organizer Notebook & Productivity Journal (this is the best monthly planner in my opinion)
• Clever Fox Planner Schedule – Weekly & Monthly Life Planner with Time Slots, Appointment book, and Daily Organizer to Increase Productivity
• Clever Fox Planner PRO – Weekly & Monthly Life Planner to Increase Productivity, Time Management and Hit Your Goals – Organizer, Gratitude Journal
• Bliss Collections Monthly Planner, “You’ve Got This”, Undated Desk Calendar and Planner for Organizing and Scheduling Tasks, Productivity Tracker, Goals, Notes and To-Do Lists (if you’re looking for a monthly planning sheet, this is the one you need!)
• Magnetic Calendar 2023-2024 – 2023-2024 Calendar Covers from July 2023 (this is the best monthly calendar, in my opinion)
• Large Dry Erase Calendar for Wall – 3 Month Vertical Wall Calendar, Blank Reusable Monthly Quarterly Calendar Planner Undated (the greatest monthly wall planner, for sure)
What’s your opinion on monthly planning?
I would love to hear how you plan for the upcoming month!
I’m a personal growth and self-care expert, as well as an avid motorcycle enthusiast and coffee and sweets lover. Through Lauraconteuse, I provide insightful and practical advice on topics such as self-care, self-love, personal growth, and productivity, drawing from my very own extensive experience and knowledge in the field. My blog has helped countless people achieve their goals and live more fulfilling lives, and my goal is to continue to inspire and empower others.