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“Plans are nothing, planning is everything.”
Having a well-designed a well-thought-out plan will help you to avoid decision fatigue, take control of your focus and get that (annoying) stuff done that you should have done a long time ago but procrastination took over your life.
Success is never a coincidence but the result of effective planning, smart (hard) work, continuous effort, self-discipline, persistence, and unwavering self-belief in one’s ability to achieve their goals.
Achievements have to be planned, goals need to be set and action has to be taken in order to get closer to your dream life. So, take a piece of paper and a pen because you’ve got an exciting month to plan. And to help you with that here is the 5-step formula to plan a successful month!
1 Step: Previous Month Reflection
The first step in planning a successful month is the month that has already passed. The purpose of this activity is to identify what went well and what went wrong for you so you know exactly what needs to be improved, fixed or completely change to make the next month more successful, productive and fun.
To make the most of this self-reflective exercise you need to be 100% honest with yourself and delve deep into each individual project and goal. Because if you want to take your life to the next level and upgrade your results one each area of your life you need to identify what strategy didn’t work, what mental blocks are slowing down your progress and what are the things you should invest more time, money and energy to feel for fulfilled and content.
- Did I achieve my goals?
- How did I achieve my goals? (strategy, method)
- What goals I didn’t accomplish and why?
- What were the most challenging things?
- What were my biggest wins?
- What skills did I acquire?
- What did I learn?
- How did I improve my life?
- What or who had the biggest impact on my life?
- What I am the most grateful for?
2 Step: Break Down Planning Into (Life) Segments
Whether you work from home or from the office, you want to make sure that you maintain a healthy and solid balance between your professional and personal life. A great way to achieve that is to break down your monthly planning into different segments (work-related and personal-life related). Ideally would be to dedicate half of the segments to work and career advancement and the other half to personal life and personal development. However, it’s not necessary. It all depends on you.
I, for example, broke down my life into 6 main segments (I also call them monthly life projects) that I want to focus on during the next month.
- Plan your WORK – (project work)
- Plan your GROWTH – (project growth)
- Plan your WEALTH – (project wealth)
- Plan your SELF-CARE – (project self-care)
- Plan your PHYSICAL ACTIVITY – (project physical activity)
- Plan your FUN with family & friends – (project fun & adventure)
You can use the same segments as me, or different ones. Again, it all depends on what you want to focus on during the next month.
3 Step: Plan Monthly Projects (Life Segments)
Once you choose the segments of your life you want to focus on within the next month, it’s time to set main goals within each of the life segments so that you know what to focus on.
I used to write my goals in my notebook and create a dedicated file in Google doc and it worked pretty well. But a couple of months ago I decided to experiment a bit and choose a more creative and inspiring method called Mind Map. And I must admit that it was one of the best planning strategies I’ve ever tried. I highly recommend you try it.
Creating a mind map of your monthly projects (different segments of your life) will help you visually collect knowledge, consolidate information from different sources, create crystal clear ideas, narrow down your goals, and redirect your focus on your top priorities. But there’s more a mind map if done nicely can become a powerful source of inspiration that will keep you going when obstacles appear and you will be close to giving up.
When creating a mind map don’t over plan. Choose from 2 to 3 (maximum 4) main areas you want to focus on (ex. health, mindset, wealth, career, side hustle). Then set individual goals for each area and write your ideas, activities, or question that will help you to get a crystal clear vision of how you’re going to achieve these goals.
4 Step: Go In-Depth With Project Planning
Once you’ve created your monthly project mind map, it’s time to go into detail and plan out those projects you’re going to work on during the next 30/31 days. Remember that there are no two identical projects: every project has its own requirements, challenges and unique process.
So when going in-depth with your project planning, analyze each project individually and identify all the main things (action steps) that you need to get done in order to bring your project (each of them) into a competition. Once you figure all the action steps out you need to assign a due date for each of them so that you keep your project(s) on track.
When creating a plan of action for each of your projects remember that there are many different ways to achieve a certain goal and bring a project to completion. They can vary in complexity and time investment, so make sure you aren’t choosing the most difficult, complex, time-consuming and boring one.
Instead, analyze the different available options you have and choose the one that will make the whole process of achieving your goal challenging, interesting but also fun. This simple strategy will increase your willpower and determination to work hard to get the desired results. But it will also trick your brain into being more creative and of course productive. So it’s kind of a win-win situation.
- Create checklists with subcategories (hold yourself accountable and track your progress)
- Create an action plan (break down your big goals into small manageable steps)
- Set deadlines that you’ll actually stick to
5 Step: Calendar & Scheduling
The final step of planning a successful month is to put everything you need and want to get done into your calendar. The purpose of this step is to reduce decision fatigue, boost your time management skills, improve self-discipline and plan the life you actually want to have. Because that’s what the calendar is for, right?
Many people I know use their calendar to schedule nothing but work-related tasks completely forgetting to create time and space for their personal life, social events, powerful rituals, hobbies, self-care activities or even work breaks. No wonder they see their schedule as their worst enemy. But it doesn’t have to be the case. It all depends on your approach and the system you put in place when planning and scheduling your tasks.
The calendar can be your friend, your most relatable accountability buddy that gives you the sense of accomplishment for every task done well and on time. The way you schedule your tasks, projects, meetings and appointments (both professional & personal) determines your level of success in every area of your life. All you have to do is to realize that. So use your calendar to plan the life you actually want to have instead of putting unnecessary pressure on yourself.
- Map out your perfect daily schedule (including morning, evening & workout routines and meal breaks)
- Prioritize & simplify your tasks to avoid unnecessary complexity, confusion & decision fatigue
- Use the calendar time blocking method to manage your time effectively
- Batch similar tasks together to create momentum in your day
- Plan work breaks to rest, change the energy and restore mental clarity
- Plan your enjoyment
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- How To Figure Out What You Want In Life: 12 Simple Exercises
- Discover 10 simple ways to train your self-discipline muscle
- Use best time management apps to keep you on schedule at work
- Organize your day around your goals
- Use the Eisenhower Box to identify your top priorities and avoid the urgency trap
- Create and maintain a powerful morning routine
- Develop morning rituals to make your motivation flow effortlessly
- Create motivation through action
- Start before you are ready
- Improve your decision-making process
- Overcome your self-limiting beliefs that block your progress
- Balance productivity and happiness
- Cultivate self-care routine
- The 3 x 8 rule for Perfectly Balanced Day & Life
- Create rituals to induce a flow state
Set your priorities straight
and regain control of your time!