Earlier, I wrote drafts about reviewing and planning your week. While I still review and plan my weeks, I set my schedule once a month, breaking each week down individually. My weeks largely stay the same in terms of structure. Rather than setting up recurring calendar events every week, I now do it once a month. Even though most of the planning remains unchanged, I still need to review the current month before I can plan for the next one.
Here are some actions I take as part of my monthly review.
I review my areas of focus. I shared earlier about the value of looking at our areas of focus once a month in order to think from a higher level––so we can see the forest for the trees. It helps us to understand why we are devoting our time and attention to some projects and saying no to others.
Then, I review my journal entries to look for patterns in my thinking.
I review journal entries tagged with “week”. This is useful for collecting those entries and reviewing them once a month during my monthly review. I tag entries from my monthly reviews (one for each month) in order to review them once a year.
I review journal entries tagged with “center” to keep track of situations in my life when I have lost my “center” and regretted it. These are times when my emotions get the better of me and it helps to reflect on them.
I reflect on the current month––first in terms of how I lived, and second in terms of what I accomplished. Mind you, the order matters. Next, I review the projects completed this month to celebrate my progress.
Finally, I review my monthly spending to see how it compares to my budget.
I do the monthly review and planning in the last two days of the current month. It’s why I rarely schedule meetings on those days.
Once I’ve reviewed my current month, then it’s time for me to plan for the following month, which is the easy part. Like I said at the start of the draft, for me, most of the recurring actions that I do every week rarely change, particularly now in this pandemic as I’ve limited my travel.
These include meal and exercise times, morning and evening times for warm-up and reflection respectively, daily walks, reading time, time for doing creative work, laundry, weekly reviews, game nights, movie nights, personal care, reading newsletters and RSS, etc. Basically, anything that needs to be done at a specific time gets scheduled in the calendar. Everything else, like paying bills on the same day every month or reviewing my monthly subscriptions, gets scheduled in my list manager.
It might seem like I’m scheduling every minute of my day, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I have enough discretionary time for doing what I want.
It’s worth noting even if I didn’t schedule regular times for these events in my calendar, I would still be doing most of it by way of habit. Putting these events on my calendar lets me know how much time I actually have every day/week to do the things I’ve committed to, so I can show up and do the work. After all, self-discipline is freedom.
You might also want to read about how I get work done every day/week.
I hope this draft has given you ideas for reviewing and planning your own month.
It’s only when I know what things remain unchanged week-to-week and month-to-month that I can devote my time and attention to completing projects I care about. I think about my commitments once a month and then do them week to week. I know what I have said yes to, so I can ignore almost everything else (for now). This helps me stay highly focused on a few projects and give my full attention to them, rather than overcommitting and spreading myself too thin.