Planning ahead is one of the keys to success. Throughout my many blog posts, I’ve emphasized the importance of planning, whether it’s daily to-do lists or quarterly goal-setting.
In this post, I’ll be revealing the monthly planning routine that helps me prepare for the upcoming weeks and maximize my days.
With these 8 foolproof steps, you’ll be able to streamline your planning process and truly skyrocket your productivity during the month. Let’s get into it!
Essential supplies you need
Though you can plan with whatever supplies you have and want to use, I find that a few certain supplies really help make the process easier. Check them out:
This planner is undated and has plenty of space for a monthly overview and weekly scheduling (both of which are important for later steps). In addition, it also has blank pages for you to be creative, make extensive plans, etc.
If you’re more creative and like to create a planning system completely from scratch, invest in a bullet journal! You’ll be free to create your own monthly and weekly planning spreads and can decorate them however you’d like.
- Goal-planning freebie (from me)
This completely free resource will help you plan out your goals for the month and determine what action tasks you need to perform throughout the month. You can find it in my Freebie Library!
- High-quality black pens
- High-quality highlighters
- Stickers, washi tape, decoration (optional)
Lastly, I love to use stickers and washi tape to decorate my planner and journals. Whenever you have some empty space on your pages, you can fill it up with some cute stickers to further personalize your planner!
YOU’LL LOVE THIS POST: How To Set Up Your Planner For Maximum Productivity
Step 1. Start planning early
Speaking from experience, it’s not a good idea to start your monthly planning 2 days after the month already began. Instead, start planning at the end of the previous month.
In the last few days of the month, grab your planner and sit down for a solid 30-40 minutes. Though this may sound like a long time to spend planning, it will save you hours of time that you would’ve been spent trying to plan during the month.
Step 2. Monthly braindump
One of the first things you should do in your monthly planning routine is not to actually start planning; instead, start with a monthly braindump to declutter your mind and allow yourself to start from a blank slate.
The Muji Free Planner’s blank (but gridded) pages are great for this purpose. You can use this space to just dump out what’s on your mind. Some things you can write down include:
- Highs and lows of this month
- Favorite memories (you can even paste a few pictures!)
- Achievements you’re proud of
- Something new you discovered this month
- Things you want to say to your future self
- Anything you want!
Step 3. Set goals
Now, we get planning.
Goal-setting is a crucial step for both long-term and short-term planning. Having goals (or even just one goal) will motivate you to complete your tasks well and efficiently, therefore helping you be more productive and successful.
In this step, set goals for the month. These can derive from long-term goals for the quarter or year, or they can simply be goals you want to achieve this month.
For example, if one of your long-term goals for the year was to “lose 15kg,” your goal for the month could be to “lose 2kg.” This would be a derivative or branch from your long-term goal.
Or, set goals that are completely independent. Here are some examples: a certain academic achievement, a habit you want to build, or a grade you want to achieve.
Step 4. Create action tasks
This step goes hand-in-hand with Step 3, setting goals. In order to truly achieve these goals, you need to create actionable tasks that will help you achieve your goal, one step at a time.
Essentially, you need to break down your main goal until you’re faced with small, actionable steps. It will be much easier to track your progress and actually complete your goal when you have action tasks like these.
For example, if one of your goals for the month is to raise your SAT score by 50 points (based on practice tests), your action steps could be to do 30 practice questions every day and take a full practice test every weekend.
Analyze your goal and try to find ways to break it down into routine tasks, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving it!
Step 5. Mark important dates
There are bound to be a few important dates throughout the month, and to make sure you don’t forget or miss them, mark them in your calendar or write them down in your planner!
Some dates you should keep in mind include:
- Test dates
- Self-care days
By keeping track of what days you’re busy and what days you’re free, you’ll be able to make plans much more smoothly. This will also ensure that you can schedule your month to maximize productivity.
Step 6. Create a habit tracker
Every month, you should continue to improve yourself by building healthy habits and breaking unhealthy ones. A habit tracker can help you do this, as it shows you how well you’re achieving your goals and can motivate you and keep you on track.
Habit trackers are easy to make. Simply create a grid for the month (you can format it like a calendar or just leave the right number of blank spaces) and fill it in with a dot, color, or sticker… if you completed the habit on that day.
If you’re not sure where to begin with building habits, check out the Complete Habit-Building Workbook! This guide will teach you how exactly you can build habits that stick, as well as provide free habit-tracking templates and challenges.
Step 7. Create an academic tracker
Next, if you’re a student, create an academic tracker that tracks your academic progress– more specifically, your grades.
Your grade tracker can look like a simple line graph, with time across the bottom and your grade along the side. As your grade changes (or stays the same), you can track its movement with your “graph.”
Though this is a super simple trick, it can help to help you identify what classes you tend to struggle with and when. For example, if your grades seem to be falling due to homework, see if there’s something you can do to prevent that. And if your grades seem to drop right after tests, you know that you need to find more effective ways of studying.
None of the planners I mentioned above have an academic tracker, but if you’re interested in a planner that does, you can check out the Ultimate 3-in-1 Student Planner, made by yours truly.
Step 8. Prepare for weekly planning
Lastly, once you’ve planned out the big picture for your month, you need to prepare for weekly planning. This will consist of the more specific plans you have, as well as more extensive to-do lists.
In your weekly planning, you’ll have to take into account the following:
- Habits you’re building (use your habit tracker!)
- Weekly goals and action steps for monthly and long-term goals
- Weekly to-do lists (tie in your goals!)
- Daily to-do lists
It may sound tedious and unnecessary to do such extensive planning, but it is this extra detail and structure that helps you stay accountable and productive.
I hope you found this post helpful! Planning ahead can truly give you a head start in the month, so grab a planner (remember to do this a few days before the next month) and get planning!
If you’re looking for more productivity and planning posts, you’ll love these:
- Ultimate 5 Day Guide To Become Insanely Productive
- 9 Powerful Daily Habits For Productivity
- 8 Daily Habits Of Highly Successful Students