While my weekly review keeps me afloat week to week; monthly planning ensures I'm aiming toward the right targets.
 
When monthly planning is complete, I have an actionable review of the previous month and clear priorities for the next month. The entire process takes 30-60 minutes, depending on how in-depth I want to get. 
 
This is my process:
  1. Recap the Prior Month
  2. Examine Hot Spots in my Life
  3. Identify a Monthly Theme and Priorities
  4. Update a Physical Tracker and Routines

1. Recap the Prior Month

As part of my monthly planning, I look for insights based on what my best life looks like on a day-to-day basis.
 
My debrief starts with a short summary of each day recorded throughout the previous month. After I summarize, I evaluate against a four value scale:
The busier we get, the more critical it is to slow down and reflect.
 
I use a table for my summaries, although I could do a better job recording the summaries on a daily basis. These are some example entries:
 
Day
Sentence Summary
Bad/Neutral/Good/Exceptional
26
Did not complete any of the things I needed to do, but I made an ice cream run with Tiffany. Tired, low focus.
Neutral
31
First day on military orders and gaining focus as I lock in on the on ONE job for the next few weeks. AND, I FINISHED the GVRAT with a 24:22 5k for an exclamation point! VICTORY!
Exceptional
At the end of the month, I roll-up of monthly values. These are my results for August:
  • Bad: 1 (3%)
  • Neutral: 8 (26%)
  • Good: 14 (45%)
  • Exceptional: 8 (26%)
More than 70% of the month was good or exceptional. I'm really thrilled with everything I accomplished as it was an extremely purpose-driven month. Using the summaries and data, it's easy to pull out valuable insights for the month.
 
For example, I notice that my exceptional days this month usually included a memorable social engagement and/or a high level of success hitting my daily targets. These are things I can try to incorporate more into my daily life.
 
Then I follow up with a few short sections to dig a little deeper, celebrate successes, and identify potential target areas moving into the next month.
  • Quick Recap: I'm shocked by what I accomplished this month. I sold a house and transferred ownership of a second one. Tiffany and I are debt-free except for our home. I ran 220 miles and wrote 24 blog posts. I even found time to spend with my wife with an adjustable Tempur-Pedic bed on the way!
  • Big Wins
  • Misses
  • Opportunities for Improvement

2. Examine Hot Spots in my Life

Hot spots are areas critical for maintaining order and progress in my life. These areas include Day Job, Blog/Newsletter, Health, Finances, Relationships, and several others.
 
Using the list allows me to quickly identify the current state of the area and re-balance appropriately to areas being neglected or potentially overlooked.
 
Hot Spots
What's the current state?
What tasks or projects does this suggest for next month?
Calling
  • Blog
  • Newsletter
Finishing 30 Posts in 30 Days; maintain weekly newsletter.
Finish the remaining 6 posts and then get onto a weekly publishing schedule of every Sunday.
 
Use the post to drive weekly content for the newsletter.
Health
  • Diet
  • Fitness
Finished GVRAT and legs are feeling strong, but have severely neglected any strength training.
Squat Challenge: 50 squats a day
 
Continue walking on a daily basis.

3. Identify a Monthly Theme and Priorities

Between the recap and the hot spots, I've identified a list of potential tasks and targets for the month. Next, I prioritize and assign a theme for the coming month. The theme serves as a reminder of purpose and motivation. Last month was "Lose Yourself."
 
These are my priorities for September and will drive my weekly tasks. This month is considerably more conservative than August:
 
Theme: Less is More
 
Lock in the Morning routine
  • Walk/run every morning.
  • Cold shower
  • Write for 15 minutes every morning
It's Army Training Time
  • Lean in and do a great job for Annual Training!
  • Start working on the next professional development course
Keep the Blog Rolling
  • Finish 30 Day 30 Post Challenge
  • Continue with a weekly publishing cadence
Maintain the Fitness Gains
  • Keep clocking morning miles, but let the mind and body recover from last month
  • 50 squats/day!
Relationships
  • Maintain healthy boundaries with work
  • Spend more quality time with Tiffany

4. Update a Physical Tracker and Routines

For motivation and accountability, I prefer having a physical tracker as it's highly visible and easily accessible without needing a computer or a specific spreadsheet. A two-second scan also tells me whether the month is on track and where to adapt.
 
For the tracker, I update and print out a one page Google Sheet. While it has daily check-offs, I use this more as a motivational tool than a data collection sheet, although it could easily provide actionable insight. Now, I'm ready to get into the specific week-to-week details.

Do you do monthly planning? If so, what does it look like?
 
Note: This is part of a series with a systems overview explaining my weekly, monthly, mid-year, and annual reviews.

Cover Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash


About Scott

Grow intentionally. Give generously. Run stupid far. To learn more, visit my Start Here Page at scott.krouse.com.

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