A few days before the end of the month is the best time to plan the next month. It only takes a few minutes, and giving yourself a plan for the coming month can make the difference between being reactive vs proactive all month long. Here’s how:
1. Start with your goals. I know it’s tempting to dive right into your plans for the month, but if you don’t make your goals your priorities they will fall by they wayside. (Here are more details on how to make your goals your priorities.) Go back over your goals for this year. (If you didn’t set your goals for this year, take a look at this post for a step by step guide.) Evaluate your goals progress, figure out what you have accomplished so far and what still needs to be done. Then write out your goals for this month. What do you want to accomplish this month? Think about where you want to be at the end of the upcoming month. What do you need to do in order to make that happen?
2. Big rocks. Now take a look at the big stuff happening this month: events, travel, holidays, birthdays, projects, deadlines, bills due. Write all these into your planner if they aren’t there already. Think about what you need to do to prepare for these. Write your tasks and actions into your planner when they need to be done.
3. Weekly details. Now that you have a good overview of what is happening this month, take a look at your weekly details to see when you will have time to get things done. Which weeks are busiest, and which weeks have more time available? When will you be traveling, and therefore not able to complete other tasks? See when you’ll be able to fit things in. Assign larger tasks to weeks that are not already heavily scheduled.
4. Revisit goals. Take a look at your goals again, and look through your planner at all the plans you have made this month. Do you need to adjust your goals? Maybe this month will be busier than you expected, and you won’t have as much time to focus on your goals. Or maybe the opposite is true: can you hit it hard this month and get a lot done? Adjust your goal expectations accordingly.
5. Preview next month. Take a look ahead to the following month to make sure nothing is going to sneak up on you, especially things that happen at the beginning of the month. Do you have anything big coming up that you need to prepare for? Do you have any big expenses coming that you need to set aside savings for? Plan ahead and be prepared.
Planning your month isn’t as daunting as it first sounds, and it will put you ahead of the curve so you don’t get taken by surprise by anything coming up. Start the month prepared so you can be steady and productive all month long!