A couple of weeks ago (months, now?) I switched to digital planning. While the process is mostly the same, there’s a whole lot less paper involved, and a lot more screens. Which reminds me, I should update my weekly planning video…
My monthly planning routine video, though? That one can stay. My monthly routine did change a bit, but I still do it all on paper. The only difference - now that I don’t have my beloved, disc-bound, pretty DIY paper planner, I had to find a new place to write down my goals, affirmations, etc.
As with anything, switching over to digital was a process of trial-and-error (with a side of extra errors). First, I tried doing everything in a notebook, but as we all know, notebooks have this weird tendency to get stuck on a shelf, never to be opened (until a new month rolls around and you have to open it back up to write your new goals). As a result, my goals were never reviewed, and goals that are never reviewed are, well, DEAD.
The solution? The perfect balance I found to organizing my life online while simultaneously keeping my goals and aspirations tangible and in-reach?
A simple 8.5 x 11” piece of paper.
Here’s how I do it:
Every monthly planning session, I have a set process that I follow. First, I look back and review how the previous month went. Then, I look ahead to the new month. This is the part that goes onto this crisp, clean piece of printer paper.
Before I do anything, I start by writing the name of the month in a way that is simple, yet elegant. Chic, as a fashion blogger might call it. Then, as I go through the monthly planning routine, I add some equally aesthetic headers and use the best handwriting I can muster to write out the following...
I choose 3 goals that I want to focus on for the month. I don’t have set categories but I do try to vary them. I wouldn’t for example, have three blog goals. For the month of October, I had one blog goal and two financial goals.
It all depends on what is currently going on in my life, and what my priorities are at the moment.
It’s important to choose goals that push you but don’t overwhelm you. You don’t want to feel bad about yourself for not reaching a goal, but you also want to challenge yourself to get better. This will take some experimentation, so don't expect to get it right from the get-go.
I choose one habit to focus on for the month. Of course, I try to keep up with all of my daily and weekly habits (using my habit tracking app), but I choose one to really commit to that month.
The number of days it actually takes to form a habit is a little controversial, but the point is to have one thing to focus on throughout that month. I am rarely able to complete all of my habits on any given day, but if I can complete that one, I feel pretty good about myself.
Book of the month
I choose one book to read that month. If you’re interested, here is my list of books that I want to read. It’s quite a long one, and one book per month is kind of a slow pace, but as long as I’m chipping away at those books and constantly learning, I’m satisfied.
Looking forward to
I think it’s incredibly important to focus on the positive. OPTIMISM FTW. Whether that’s on the small scale (I write down 3 things I’m excited for each day) or the grand (writing down 3 things I’m looking forward to each month), they help you see past the stressful and difficult parts of life and appreciate all of the wonderful things that are unfolding around you.
I choose one affirmation to guide me that month, usually based on whatever I struggled with in the past month. In September, I noticed that my mind seemed to constantly be focused on the future, whether that was the next month or simply the next task. Constantly being in this state of anticipation stressed me out, but I found that whenever I consciously brought my thinking back to the present moment, to the task at hand, everything seemed simpler and more manageable.
So for October, I wrote this affirmation: I focus on the present moment.
I write this at the end of each journal entry, every morning and evening. Sometimes I write it on my hand as well. It is the sentence that guides my month.
Keeping my goals in sight
Once I’ve finished my artsy fartsy little monthly planning sheet (and posted about it on Instagram, of course), I hang it up in the place where I will see it most, right above my desk. I’m picky about my work environment and my desk is my ideal place to get things done. As a result, you'll find me there 70% of the time that I'm not at school.
So every time that I’m doing weekly planning, every morning when I’m looking over my to-dos, and every time I’m journaling at the end of the day, I can glance at my monthly planning sheet and see a bird’s eye view of my month. It reminds me of what I want to accomplish, and it is a gentle yet constant reminder of what I need to do.
This is the monthly planning sheet that I just created for November 2018, as well as my planning sheets from October and September that I dug out of the archives (AKA Google Photos, my photo organizing savior).
Share your monthly planning!
For me, this system works perfectly. I tested a bunch of different methods, but the only way I could keep my goals close at hand and at the front of my mind was by putting them on a piece of paper that was right in my field of vision for the majority of the day.
I encourage you to try this method this month. How convenient that a new month starts in just a few days, it’s almost like I planned it that way ;) Make sure to tag me @theblissbean (on Instagram and Twitter) and use the hashtag #TheBlissfulLife. Remember, you can make this as artistic or as minimalist as you want. There are NO RULES. I can’t wait to see what you create.
Let me know - will you try this method? How do you remind yourself of your monthly goals and intentions?