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:
Sentence Summary
Did not complete any of the things I needed to do, but I made an ice cream run with Tiffany. Tired, low focus.
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!
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?
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.

View all posts by Scott

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *