Organization and planning are some of the best ways to ensure that your time is well spent. Sometimes our full-time jobs lead us to think we have less time than we do. The only way to really tell how much time you have is to write everything out and plan for the entire month like a boss!
I find I have the best success when I plan out the entire month. Sometimes I plan out weeks at a time, but it tends to get a bit tedious. By planning the entire month, you’re taking a look ahead at activities you do monthly and activities that are specific to only that month. Planning can also help you realistically evaluate your time and help you avoid forgetting important events such as birthdays and appointments.
Planning for the month doesn’t have to be overwhelming or intimidating. Just because your month is planned out doesn’t mean every minute of every day is spoken for. You will still have plenty of time for yourself, especially if you follow the steps below.
Quick note: This post is especially helpful for people who enjoy pre-planning and is also great for people who want more organization and structure. Here we go!
Step 1: Invest in a good calendar
It’s impossible to plan for the entire month without a calendar. You’ll want to get a big calendar for the best benefits. I prefer to use chalkboard or whiteboard calendars so that I’m not dealing with reprinting a new calendar every month. A chalkboard calendar also makes it easy to erase and make changes. I suggest hanging your calendar in a location that you look at daily. Currently, my calendar is hanging on my bedroom wall for quick and easy review.
The reason you want to write your calendar out and not just put it on your phone is because your phone calendar gets lost among all your other apps. You want some sort of guarantee that you are not only looking at your daily plans but also looking ahead to the future.
Step 2: Add Finances
If anything is certain in a month, it’s finances. We receive a paycheck and pay our bills. This section is vital for your calendar because it’s a reality check on the intake and output of your money. So, let’s get this over with:
Make a list of all the payments you need to make in a month. This includes rent/mortgage, phone, car, credit card, and subscriptions.
Since these payments are monthly, make sure to add them to your calendar first.
Next is the paycheck. This one is way more exciting to add to the calendar than the bills part. If you get paid weekly or bi-weekly, simply add a dollar sign ($) on the day you get your mula.
Hopefully you put money into your savings every month. If you don’t, start now! All you have to do is select one or two days in the month to transfer money into your savings account (Yes, you need a savings account for this step. A regular checkings account is not considered a savings).
This can even be done automatically with online banking. I find it’s easiest to transfer money to my savings on the day I get paid. Whatever day you decide, make it a routine and put it on your calendar.
Step 3: Birthdays
You can’t plan for the entire month if you don’t remember to include birthdays. Do you sometimes forget to wish your friends happy birthday? I do (I know, shame!). Since I’ve been putting birthday’s on the calendar a month in advance I no longer miss anyone’s big day.
I know we live in a day and age where we don’t necessarily know all our friend’s birthdays like we used to. An easy way to get a list of your friend’s birthdays is Facebook. If you don’t have the social network, there’s no shame in simply asking.
Step 4: Add goals & deadlines
You know that short-term goal you’ve dedicated yourself to? Add that to the calendar!
Short term goals are all about mini-deadlines. Since short-term goals are typically set between 3 to 6 months, you want to see a steady progress each month. It can be overwhelming to set a 6-month goal and not track any progress. To make sure this doesn’t happen, try and set a deadline or a goal for each month. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, set a pound goal each month.
For my personal goal as a writer, I set dates for how much content I want to have written within each month. At the beginning of the month, I evaluate how much time I will have to write and I pick a date for my goal towards the end of the month.
Just like with your goals, you’ll want to add deadlines also. If you’re in school, this is a vital step for you. Gather all your homework deadlines and write them down on your calendar. The last thing you want to do (or forget to do) is your homework.
Step 5: Monthly challenge
Monthly challenges are awesome. If you’ve ever wanted to try something new or commit to something, why put it off? Make up your mind that you can do it and then put it on your calendar. A monthly challenge can be choosing to run three times a week, going vegetarian, watching every sunset, or taking a painting class. Whatever you decide to do, fully commit to it. At the beginning of the month, write in every day you plan to exercise or every time you want to deposit money into your savings.
My goal for this month is to practice yoga at least 4 times a week. I already scheduled which days I will do yoga so it’s been easy to stick to a schedule. Who knows, I might go ahead and make this a habit!
If you think you want to skip this step and wait until the New Year or Lent to set a goal, why wait? The sooner you start, the sooner you will see results. So, add this in when you plan for the entire month, trust me.
Step 6: Plan out meal preps
If you meal prep like I do, it’s important to know in advance what you will be eating. I hate going to the grocery store and not knowing what foods I want to cook for my entire week. I avoid this by planning out my meals ahead of time.
There are typically 4 weeks in a month. On the Sunday of each week, write in the food you will meal prep for that week. Since I only meal prep for breakfast and lunch, my calendar looks like this:
Week 1: Green smoothie, salmon & broccoli
Week 2: Green smoothie, chicken breast & cauliflower
Week 3: Grits, pasta & steamed carrots
Week 4: Green smoothie, salmon & broccoli
This simple step will make grocery shopping way easier. If you also meal prep for dinner, make sure to put that in. Remember, you can get as fancy with your meals as you like.
Step 7: Reconnect with 1 person
Do you have a friend from high school or college that pops into your mind every now and then? When you plan for the entire month set aside a day to give them a call, schedule lunch, and spend some time catching up.
This step may require coming out of your comfort zone a little bit but once you do it you will feel amazing. Simply pick a date to call/text an old friend and enjoy reminiscing about the good ‘ol days. This also works for any relationships that need mending.
- Make buying birthday and holiday gifts easy. Buy a bulk of assorted birthday, congratulations, and sympathy cards so that you are always prepared.
- Buy birthday gifts in advance. Just because your friends b-day is at the end of the month doesn’t mean you should wait until that week to make the purchase. As we get older, it can be hard to get our friends gifts, so here is a cool, practical gift . It’s easy and can work as a simple gift for the right person.
- Be realistic about the amount of time you really have. If you work full time, don’t plan 3 other activities for that same day. You want to avoid burnout at all costs
Now you know how to plan for the entire month! Good luck with putting together your calendar. If you want to add more or less to it, go ahead! This is all about what works best for you and what will help you make the most of the little free time you actually have.