Have you ever found yourself halfway through a month and realised that you’re just completely overwhelmed? You don’t know what’s happening when, you’ve missed appointments, your finances are a mess and you don’t even know what day of the week it is. All you know is that your life seems to be getting busier and busier.
There are certain things you can include in your monthly planning to reduce this overwhelm. I always plan my month ahead at the end of a month and it’s made a huge difference to how I feel going into a new month. Where I felt anxious when a new month rolled around, I now love the beginning of a new month.
In this blog post, I list and explain six things you should include in your monthly planning. If you’re ready to face a new month with confidence, this post is for you!
As a side note, I designed the Everything Planner specifically to include the monthly features described in this blog post. You can check out my Shop page to find out more about this planner.
1. A Monthly Review
Before diving into a new month, it’s important to reflect on the previous month. The Everything Planner includes a monthly review page at the end of each month.
When reflecting on a month that has just passed, you can consider the following prompts:
- What are you grateful for in this month?
- What was good about this month?
- What was not good about this month?
- What do you want to do more and less of on the next month?
- How is your progress towards your goals?
2. A Monthly Overview
A monthly overview helps you to keep track of birthdays, appointments and special days without double-booking. You can use a monthly calendar or a similar layout in a planner.
I like to colour in the blocks of days that fall on long weekends or holidays, or use washi tape to mark these days.
I also use stickers to allocate birthdays, parties, appointments, due dates, weddings and date nights to specific days.
3. A Monthly Budget
Nothing can mess up a month like running out of money halfway through it. That’s why having a monthly budget is so important!
When creating a budget for yourself, make a list of your fixed monthly income and your fixed monthly expenses. Write down how much money needs to be allocated to each.
Fixed monthly expenses can include:
- Rent or Mortgage Payment
- Utilities (Electricity, Water, Gas)
- Internet and TV
- Phone and Mobile Plan
- Insurance Premiums (Health, Auto, Home, etc.)
- Loan Payments (Car loan, Student loan, etc.)
- Subscription Services (Netflix, Spotify, etc.)
- Gym or Fitness Memberships
- Transportation Costs (Public transportation, Fuel, etc.)
- Groceries and Food Expenses
- Childcare or Babysitting
- Property Taxes
- Savings and Retirement Contributions
Then, add income and expenses that are additional for the month you are planning.
Examples of month-specific expenses can include:
- Holiday Gifts
- Travel Expenses
- Birthday Celebrations
- Annual Subscriptions or Memberships Renewals
- Quarterly or Annual Taxes
- Home or Car Maintenance
- Seasonal Clothing or Gear
- Special Events or Occasions
Make sure to check back in with your budget throughout the month to make sure you’re sticking to your spending plans.
4. A To-Do List For The Month
Make a list of all the things you’d like to do in the upcoming month. You can have one big list, or create lists for different categories of your life, like tasks in your home, tasks at work and family commitments.
I suggest starting with a “brain dump,” where you just write down absolutely everything that comes to mind that you would like to do.
Once you have that master list, allocate tasks to your weekly to-do lists.
5. A List Of Things To Carry Over Into The Next Month
Being aware of how much time you have available is vital for achieving your monthly goals. You have to be realistic in the goals you set, otherwise you won’t even try to work towards achieving them.
If you realise that you want to do more in a month than you know you have time for, prioritise your task list.
Schedule the top-priority tasks into your weekly to-do lists and write all other tasks in a list to carry over into the next month.
If, as the month goes by, you realise that you won’t manage tasks you had thought you would (life happens, this is normal!), you can add them to this list as well.
At the end of the month, you can decide for each task whether it is still relevant. If it is, add it to your brain dump for the next month.
Each year, the monthly covers in the Everything Planner have a different style and design. In 2023, each month included a beautiful full-colour watercolour artwork by Jo-Marie Barlow. The 2024 planners won’t include colour covers, but beautiful black and white prints.
6. Goals for the Month
Make a list of the goals you want to achieve in the upcoming month. The Everything Planner has a page allocated to monthly goals. You can refer to your reflection from the previous month to finetune and adjust your goals for the year, or you can create new goals for the month.
Goals can be set for:
- your personal life (self-development, growth, etc.)
- your relationships
- your work or business
7. A Plan For Achieving Your Goals
If you write a list of goals for the month and leave them on your goals page in your planner, you are very likely to forget all about them until your review at the end of the month.
If you want to achieve your goals, you have to create a plan for working towards them.
For each goal you set for the month, write down HOW you plan on achieving this goal. If your goal involves a big task, like completing a specific project, break that task down into smaller pieces.
Furthermore, schedule the smaller task pieces into your days of the month as much as you can.
Want More Planning Tips?
I love sharing tips to help women use planners more effectively. If you’d like to make sure that you don’t miss any of these tips, you can follow me on Instagram (@deardiary_za) or subscribe to my newsletter below.