If you’ve been reading my blog this year you might have noticed I’m a little obsessed with my Monthly Planning sessions. Before I started journaling regularly, I used to take things as they came. That may sound super chill, but the results were anything but. Because I wasn’t planning ahead, things would slip thru the cracks. I was always busy, but curiously unaccomplished. This is because I was being “reactive” instead of “proactive”.
What does that mean? Reactive means you are always reacting in the moment. Responding to stimuli instead of creating your own. If you let it, this practice can take up ALL of your time. Personally, I don’t want to spend my life putting out fires. I’d rather spend it being proactive.
Okay, so you’ve decided you want to be proactive and plan out your month. Where do you start? Here are the basics to get you started. If you only do these 3 things, you’ll be ahead of the game, and take your month back!
The very first step to a more productive month is reviewing and writing down any and all appointments or commitments coming up on your schedule. This has to come first because you need to know how much time you really have available. Setting a big goal and then realizing you’re booked solid is the disappointment of a lifetime.
The most popular way to keep track of appointments/events is using a calendar. There are plenty of preprinted versions available for purchase, but as a Bullet Journal girl, I prefer to make my own. (Psst! If you’re looking for a free printable calendar, click here!)
For a calendar, I use the traditional minimalist style as designed by the creator of the Bullet Journal system Ryder Carrol. It’s minimalist, and it works well for me because I try not to over schedule my days with more than 1 major event at a time, but that might change against my will in the near future.
Here’s an example of what I use.
You could also try any of these awesome DIY calendars!
To Do Lists
Ah, the To DO list. All those annoying little tasks that run thru your head again and again when you can’t sleep. Need a cure for To Do List induced insomnia? Write it down! Writing things down is a proven method for clearing your head and getting all that brain space back!
So when you sit down to write your monthly To Do List, think of it as a brain dump of things that are coming up. These can be time sensitive or not. It’s a general list to reference when you’re planning your day. This list will keep your head clear and enable you to keep that little stuff from falling thru the cracks.
Here are some examples of how productivity super stars rock their To Do Lists.
This is where you get to insert yourself into your own life! Now that you know what you HAVE to do this month, it’s time to think about what you WANT to do! How can you be better this month? How can you improve your circumstances, your relationships, your mood?
Here’s an example of how I set goals for the month. I choose three major area’s of my life to focus on. In this spread it was, Home, FAmily, and Blog, but you could choose any category you want to fill those spaces. Work, Business, School, Finances, Relationships, the list goes on and on. It’s completely customizable month to month, depending on whats going on in your life at the time.
If you do these three things at the beginning of every month, You are well on your way to taking control of your life.
Additional Spreads that Boost Your Productivity – And Your Fun!
This is one of the most productive spreads you can have in your Bullet Journal! List the habits or tasks you want to keep track of along the side, and then mark what you did each day. You can list things like laundry, water intake, making the bed, no spend, exercise, etc. This spread can really give you insight into how often you are really accomplishing what you set out to do. Once you have a clearer picture of how often you perform certain activities, it’s so much easier to set realistic goals for yourself, and gradually grow into those habits you want to make a part of your life.
Also, they’re pretty!
Here are some examples.
The idea behind a Gratitude Log is that even on your worst day you are forced to take a step back and look on the bright side. The act of being mindfully grateful can have long-term effects on your health, your self-control, and your general satisfaction in life. Psychology Today writes “ Regular practice of gratitude can change the way our brain neurons fire into more positive automatic patterns. The positive emotions we evoke can soothe distress and broaden our thinking patterns so we develop a larger and more expansive view of our lives.” Sounds good to me :).
Here are some examples.
Title Page + Quote of the month
I love drawing these intro pages every month. Not only do they jazz up my journal, but they really get me in the mindset of the time period I’m entering. Every month is different- different events, different weather, busy, slow, etc. When I sit down to draw out my intro it helps me adjust my thinking to whatever vibe is needed for what I have coming up.
Here’s an example of how I get in the mood for a new month with an intro page.
Monthly Memories And Review
This a great way to keep track of what happened this month and what you want to remember! And of course, a regular review ensures you get better and better.
I hope these examples have inspired you to start your own monthly planning practice! Let me know what you think in the comments!