A planner with a monthly spread has been very useful for me when it comes to viewing at a glance, planning and organizing activities. Even though I am not a naturally organized person, and tend to love to go on my days ‘in the flow’, I still learn to use my monthly planner often when I need to organize and plan for an important event or travel.
It is now towards the end of the year and you may be searching for ideas on how to make your life more organized and structured. Hopefully, I am able to share my experience on planning using a monthly planner.
Benefits of having a planner with monthly view
Some may like planner with weekly or daily spreads. I have a diary with daily pages but I still have either a separate monthly planner or I use my table calendar to help in my planning. Here are the benefits of having a monthly view planner:
1. Important dates/ reminders/ birthdays/ holidays at one place
I find it essential to keep whatever that is important, reminders or tasks that need to be done at a single place where I can remember. For example, I observe vegetarian diet on certain observation dates each month. There have been few times when I forget simply because I did not write the date down. One day, I took about 20 minutes to write the entire year’s observation date and was able to stick to the diet on most of the observation dates.
Writing down important reminders is especially useful useful if you have a busy schedule or juggling multiple roles in your life. So your planner with monthly spread should be something that you can refer to on that particular day or on the day before to know what you need to be done. For example, if you have that doctor’s appointment that you know will take half a day, you should not schedule any meeting or calls with clients during that time.
2. Keeps your life more organized and less overwhelmed
We may not be able to remember every single thing. Even if we have a good memory, we can put it to better use such as retaining new knowledge or skills. We should not overload our memory with all kinds of reminders and appointments.
I cannot tell you how many times I felt so much less stressed after I was able to break down a seemingly big task into smaller manageable tasks when it comes to tackling certain important events such as festive planning/preparation, work projects and assignments. I was able to do this with by listing down tasks on my diary (I would either use that day’s spread or an unused spread) and then breaking down this into smaller bit size chunks in my monthly planner.
When I was planning a move recently, I felt so overwhelmed at the huge amount of to-dos and tasks that are swimming in my head and weighing me down. I thought I had no time do accomplish these tasks and was feeling quite stressed.
Till I sat down and listed every single thing I need to do in my diary. And then I plot the to-dos into each specific day in my monthly planner spread. As it turns out, it was not so bad because fortunately I did not wait till the very last minute. After plotting down these tasks, I realized that I do have a little breathing space and need not feel so overwhelmed. I also know that if it will not be the end if I could not have the tasks done by that day- I could still move them forward. By looking at the month view, I also know the maximum leeway that I could move and shift these tasks around.
3. Increase your productivity and help you to achieve your goals
You may wonder why I do not talk much about digital planning tools such as the calendar app that is already available on your mobile phone. Instead I would write about planning on paper.
Because there is something about writing down and looking at everything at a single glance on a physical planner that helps us put everything into perspective. I do not get the same feeling when I was looking at my digital calendar- as often it could not even list all my tasks because of space limitation on my mobile device.
You may think that sitting down to plan is wasting time. Well, I used to think so too until l find that I get behind things, feel overwhelmed and forget to get important things done or bought. If I plan out everything at a month’s glance, I would know when I can afford to laze around and when I can’t. I would know that if I choose to procrastinate, I would fall further and further behind my schedule.
Planning is also useful when it comes to my blogs. For example, when I know there are certain weeks or even months that I would not be free to publish new articles for my blogs. What I would do in this instance is I would set a realistic goal of how many blog posts I could write at the time I still have available. Then I would calculate the number of blog posts I need to write in a day (I also have rest days in between) to enable me to achieve my goals.
The planning is done on my diary. I then use my monthly planner or calendar as an accountability tool- ie I would mark a ‘I’ for every blog post I write on the day I manage to do it. Then I revisit on how far I have come from my goal- by just totaling up the number of “I” strokes. Immediately I would know if I am ahead or lagging behind. So I would know if I can afford to use more time to binge watch YouTube videos (even though I watch mostly videos that teaches on self improvement, they are still a huge time suck) or simply laze around doing nothing.
In the end, all the posts are set to be scheduled for publishing. Sometimes, I may not be able to achieve 100% what I target for but at least I am to achieve more compared to if I have not sat down and write things down.
Trust me, coming from a person who was not previously organized, planning on paper has helped me tremendously. I was forced to be more organized when I held a demanding and stressful corporate job previously. And this learned skill was useful when I needed to juggle multiple roles in my current life.
You can make a big difference in your life and emotions by just spending a little bit of time each day to sit down to plan out your things that you need to do each day as part of your daily living as well as to move you closer to your goals. You can do that in your diary, notebook or bullet journal.
Then plot them into manageable portions in your monthly planner which is portable and that you can carry around with you.
Initially you may make mistakes- like I did. For example, initially my planning systems did not work and through trial and error I tried to improve. Most important, do not give up because eventually, you will discover a system that works for you. And often, it would be follow exactly as someone else’s system but a hybrid of various ideas/experiences of other planners as well as innovation of your own.