My name is Sarah and I'm so glad you're here!
This blog is where you'll find all my best tips and tricks to organize, simplify, and streamline your business and life.
This week, we’re continuing our five-part planning series and diving into how I plan for each month of the year.
My monthly planning is one of my favorite days out of the entire month and making sure it happens is essential to ensuring the rest of the month goes smoothly and I don’t turn into a giant ball of stress with no idea what’s going on!
More of a video person? Scroll to the bottom to watch the video version of today’s post!
In the same way that quarterly planning plays off my annual planning, monthly planning also plays off of the plans for those larger chunks of time. (So if you haven’t checked out the posts on how I plan for my life & business and how I plan for each quarter… you definitely should!)
Aside from my annual planning, there’s a lot that goes into making sure each month runs smoothly, things don’t fall through the cracks, and I’m making progress on my intentions and goals for my life and my business.
Creating an effective plan requires using effective tools. I’ve experimented with various ones over the years, but these are the ones I’ve currently found to be the most effective for my current life situation.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I would be lost without my Simplified Planner. It is my planning bread and butter. It sits by my side every single day while I’m working and comes with me basically everywhere.
While they show up in quarterly, weekly, and daily planning, where Powersheets really shine are in the annual and monthly planning. Aside from the annual prep at the beginning of each year, I spend the most planning time with my Powersheets at the beginning of each month and they have a major effect on the plans I make for my month.
Yes, ladies and gents… I have a Simplified Planner, Powersheets, and a bullet journal. You may call it excessive. I call it analog planning perfection. We’ll dive more into it when it comes to the process, but the bullet journal fills in the cracks for tracking certain things that don’t make sense or aren’t as easy to customize within the context of a Simplified Planner and Powersheets.
In terms of monthly planning, Google Calendar is mostly a reference point. The heavy lifting is done at the beginning of the year, when I’m mapping out my client project slots, internal projects, travel, time off, and the like, but all of that planning has a major effect on how smooth the monthly planning process is!
Similar to Google Calendar, the Quarterly Creative’s Calendar does most of its heavy lifting at the start of each quarter, so it’s more of a reference and comparison point during the monthly planning… though it does come into play in a few key ways.
Now that we’ve reviewed the tools… let’s get into the who, what, and why.
First things first, my monthly planning actually takes place at the end of the previous month, typically on the last Friday of the month. I do this because I like to step into a brand new month, whether it starts on a Monday or a Thursday, feeling confident that I’m prepared for what’s coming.
I mentioned in my list of tools that Google Calendar and the Quarterly Creative’s Calendar function mostly as a reference point, and that’s where monthly planning begins.
I pull up my Google Calendar, look at the Quarterly Creative’s Calendar, and compare it all to what’s in my Simplified Planner. I make notes in the monthly view about events or things I want to be aware of (like the day taxes are due or monthly Tuesday’s Together meetings), so I can get the bird’s eye view when I need a quick reminder about what’s happening.
The biggest difference between this bird’s eye view and the monthly spread in the Creative’s Calendar is the Creative’s Calendar only has major business stuff or major personal things that would affect business things (like if I’m traveling), whereas the Simplified Planner has business and personal, and more than just the big stuff.
I also make sure all the major events or meetings are noted in the daily spreads of my Simplified Planner, so nothing falls through the cracks!
Once I’ve reviewed my reference points and have ensured all the big pictures things are noted in the Simplified Planner, it’s time to spend some quality time with my Powersheets.
If you’ve ever used the Powersheets before, you know that the monthly prep is a huge part of using them effectively.
There isn’t anything particularly special about how I do my monthly Powersheets prep, except that my friend Holly and I aim to hang out and do our prep together as much as we’re able.
In addition to walking through the prep as usual, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on the past month together, talking through what worked well and what didn’t, thinking through our goals together, and overall encouraging each other as we walk forward toward growth! If you’ve never done your Powersheets prep with a friend, I highly recommend it!
With Powersheets prep complete, it’s time for some artistic endeavors… aka bullet journal set up time!
Now, I don’t use my bullet journal for a ton, nor do I get super crazy with my layouts. I have some annual spreads that I keep updated on a regular basis, but each month I have five main pages/spreads I create: daily memories, daily gratitude, habit tracking, word counter, and to do list.
If you’re a Powersheets user, you may be wondering why I have a habit tracker in my bullet journal, in addition to the daily action items built into the tending list.
In my Powersheets, I use those daily action items to start building habits. When I want to add something new into my daily routine, Powersheets is where it goes first.
After I reach the point where I feel like it’s an ingrained habit (usually after 2-3 months of it staying on my Powersheets), it moves over to my bullet journal, where I track my consistency with all my other daily habits and make room for adding new things into my Powersheets!
With Powersheets prep and bullet journal set up complete, the final step in monthly planning is to update the calendars — specifically the Simplified Planner and Quarterly Creative’s Calendar.
I write in my goals for the month on the Creative’s Calendar, so they’re constantly in front of my face (because I am totally an “out of sight, out of mind” person), and I schedule my monthly, weekly, and daily action items as tasks inside my Simplified Planner.
That way, the growth I want to make happen goes from being something on a list to being something with a deadline, which means I’m far more likely to make it happen!
Well, there it is, friends! My tried and true system for going into each month prepared and ready to make things happen! We’ll be continuing things soon with how I plan for each week!