It’s almost approaching the end of the month now and like me you probably want to start the new month off on the right foot. But what are the steps you need to take to prepare yourself for a productive month?
In preparation for this upcoming month I started thinking about the things that I do regularly to prepare for the new month and the things that I would like to do every month to be more productive.
I ended up with a list of 8 things that I think are really useful in preparing for a successful month.
When thinking about these points I realised that a lot of these tips include some element of reflecting. That in order to successfully plan for a productive month ahead I first needed to reflect on what I had been doing in previous months.
I hope you enjoy this read and get some useful tips to help you prepare for a more productive month.
1. Reflect on the past month
Reflecting on the past month is the most important thing you can do to prepare yourself for a productive month ahead. After all, if you don’t know where you’re at with your goals at the moment how will you know what you need to do to improve on next month?
So how are you gonna go about this? There really isn’t any right or wrong way to do a self-reflection. Some people like to write down their thoughts with good old-fashioned pen and paper and some people prefer typing on a laptop. Do whatever works best for you!
What should you be reflecting on? Reflect on your GOALS. If you want to achieve your goals and improve your life then you have to take steps every month to get to where you want to be. By reflecting on the actions that you have (or haven’t) taken this month to get closer to your goals you will know what you need to do next month.
I created the worksheet below to help me reflect on my goals (you can download it for yourself by right-clicking on the image and saving it to your computer or you can write out the questions yourself).
I will fill out one of these for each of my goals to clearly see how I’m progressing each month. At the top I write the specific goal. Then I have one column where I right down all the things I have done to further my progress. This is a great encouragement for me because even if I don’t feel like I’ve improved a lot it celebrates all of the small actions that I’m taking to get to my final goal.
The middle column is for the things that I found either helped me or more importantly the things that prevented me from advancing this month (ie. university, work, procrastination, illness). By identifying the things that hinder you from progressing you will be more aware of what you need to change next month to be successful.
The third column is about identifying what the next steps are going to be to help you reach your goal.
2. Set specific goals for the month ahead
After reflecting on how you improved last month and what your struggles were you need to set specific, measurable goals for the upcoming month.
Why is it important to set specific goals?
It is really important when setting goals that your goals are clear and measurable so that you know exactly what you are aiming for. For example, “to do more fitness” isn’t a specific goal however “go running three times a week” is.
If you can measure a goal then you’re more likely to stick with it.
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym to help you create realistic and measurable goals for the month ahead. By using this system your goals will be very clear and you’ll know the exact steps you need to take to reach your goals.
Make your goal specific. What exactly is it you want to achieve? The more specific the better.
Can you measure your goal? If you can’t measure your goal then it will be difficult for you to see how you’re progressing each month.
Numerical goals are easier to achieve because you have a specific target to work towards.
Is your goal realistic? Do you really think you can hit that target in a month? Setting unrealistically high expectations will just make you feel bad when you don’t reach that goal.
Is this goal actually important to you? Will this goal help you to achieve a larger goal? Is there something else you could be focussing on instead?
What’s your time frame for this goal? In this blog post I’m specifically talking about monthly goals but you could use this system for longer goals too.
In this step you should also try to break down your monthly goal into weekly goals. For example, if you want to spend 10 hours this month learning a new skill then that would be about 2.5 hours a week (and 5 half an hour sessions a week). This way you know what you have to accomplish each week to reach your monthly goal.
The S.M.A.R.T. system of goal-setting is a great way to set goals for the month to ensure that you remain productive and focussed throughout the month. However, if you don’t want to use this exact system then the most important thing to remember is that your goals need to be measurable, specific and important to you.
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3. Review your calendar
One thing I always make sure to do when preparing for the next month is to go through my calendar. I make sure that all events for the month are written down in one place so that I don’t forget anything.
I also use this moment to try and figure out when my busiest week of the month is and when I have more time free so that I know when to schedule important work that I need to do for my blog or around the house.
IS EVERYTHING IMPORTANT TO YOU?
If you’re looking at your calendar and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of activities and events you have planned, take a moment to think about whether all of those are really important to you. Do all of these activities make you happy?
SCHEDULE TIME FOR YOUR GOALS
Since you have already set specific goals for the month, schedule exact times in the week when you want to work on your goals. This will make you more likely to achieve them.
SCHEDULE TIME ON SUNDAYS TO PREPARE FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
If you haven’t already read my blog post The Sunday Routine That Will Change Your Life, I wrote a post about things to do on a Sunday that will prepare you for a productive week ahead.
To remember to do your Sunday routine, schedule an hour or two every Sunday where you know you’re going to sit down and prepare for the next week.
4. Clean your home
We all tidy and clean our homes throughout the month, but what about the areas the like closets, kitchen cupboards or other places that we don’t clean regularly? They quickly build up dust and dirt.
You don’t have to deep clean every area of your home every month. However, to keep the mess or dirt from taking over your home, choose one area of your home every month to deep clean.
At the beginning of the year you may want to write a list of all of these places such as kitchen drawers, garage, utility room etc. and dedicate one of these areas to each month. That way when you get to that month you already know what you need to do.
Cleaning your home regularly means that cleaning is easier because you’re removing dirt before it builds up too thick.
This is also a good opportunity to declutter these areas of your home so that you have more space for the stuff you really use.
5. Declutter your bag/purse
I don’t know how but my handbag always seem to collect litter such as receipts, wrappers and scrap pieces of paper.
If you’re the same then I’d suggest once a month, to completely empty out your bags and purses so that you see what you have in them. Then, only put back the things that you actually need to carry with you.
Having more things than you need in your bag is just going to make it heavier and more difficult to find what you’re actually looking for.
If you want to stay on top of your finances every month and be in control of where your money is going then having a budget is a must!
It’s always a good habit to first reflect on how you have spent your money this month. Do you feel like you have stuck with your previous budget? Are you spending more money on certain categories than you would like to?
Once you have analysed your spending over the last month you can begin creating your budget for this upcoming month. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to do this in excel, on paper, using the envelope cash system or an app. Just make sure that the system works for you.
I cover budgets in more detail in my post How To Organise Your Finance (in less than 2 hours!)
7. Schedule a few fun events/dates
Don’t forget to have fun! In our mission to become as productive as possible we sometimes forget to set time aside to do the things that truly make us happy.
Don’t let your busy schedule stop you from having fun and doing the things that you love. Whether it’s doing a hobby or meeting up with friends, put it in your calendar. That way you can’t forget about it or be too busy to do it.
8. Meal Plan + Staples Shopping Trip
Something that will really help you or your family to eat healthier and save money on food is to meal plan at the beginning of the month. Meal planning for the entire month may feel a bit excessive but even just planning for a week or two ahead will make you start the month on the right track.
Meal planning is a great way to save money. When planning meals you can make sure to plan recipes that require cheap ingredients. You can make sure you buy the ingredients ahead of time so that you don’t have to buy anything last minute from your local corner shop. You end up spending less on takeaway because you already know what you are going to eat.
Meal planning will also help you to eat healthier because you’re not making any last minute decisions on what to eat. Instead you can make sure that the meals are healthy and nutritious.
This is also a good time to go through the staples that you keep in your pantry and make sure that you have everything you need on a regular basis.
In my post Meal Prep vs Ingredient Prep: Which Is The Better Option For You? I talk about two different ways of meal prepping that are good for different types of people. Check it out if you haven’t already!
Thank you so much for reading until the end! I hope that this post gave you some good tips on how to successfully plan for a productive month. Let me know in the comments what you thought the most helpful tips was. Don’t forget to share this post on social media if you enjoyed it! xxx
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