Have you ever wondered how to get ahead of your schedule? Have you asked yourself if it’s possible to stop always feeling behind? Right about the time you think you’ve caught up, another month rolls around and you start all over again. Trying to show up for your daily responsiblities without feeling overwhelmed when those extras pop up,let alone, appointments, and the dreaded holiday planning season.
I’ve been there. Years ago, I started planning my months out so that I could have a better idea what’s coming down the pike ahead of time with enough time to plan and prepare for it. However, eventually I began to feel like even that was was not enough. I would get to the end of my month and start looking at the upcoming one, already feeling behind. Somethings took longer to actually get planned and before I knew it, it would seem the month was half way though again and I was staring the next month in the eye without ever feeling like I had finished preparing for the last one!
Why I began planning a month ahead
A few months ago, I had a mind shift about how I plan my months, however. Instead of planning the current month at the beginning of the month, I realized I should start to plan the NEXT month. So at the beginning of say, September, I began thinking about what I would need to prepare for the first week of October. What I was doing before was planning the next month at the END of the current month. But, this left me feeling behind when the first week of that month came up. I wasn’t quite ready for events scheduled that week or birthdays I hadn’t bought gifts for.
In fact, I realized birthdays had become a particular pain point for me. We have a large family and with extended family, I would often miss birthdays that I didn’t mean to. Even my own family’s! Or I would be frantically trying to find a gift the day I needed to ship it or give it. So I decided to start planning a month ahead with birthdays first.
Around the same time I heard a tip from the Lazy Genius podcast about how to batch work together when it makes sense. This seemed like a great way to begin. I first bought all the cards I needed, then the presents, and lastly the packaging needed for gifts to ship. Than I wrapped them, packed them and labeled them all at the same time. This was the most freeing thing for me! Having the gift ready to go when the day arrived, made the shopping experience so much more enjoyable! I had more time to find a thoughtful gift and get it there with plenty of time.
Benefits of planning a month ahead
Because this worked so well, I began thinking about other things I could plan ahead for the month. My husband and I started scheduling out main events or appointments at the beginning of the month for the month ahead, as well. It was nice to do this in a way that was not so far in advance, nor too close to miss the positive impact.
This greatly contributed to our over all peace of mind, while also allowing us the room to be more generous with our time, home and resources.
This has not only freed us up to have more time to prepare for each appointment and event, I have found this also frees up my mind to think more about creative projects and activities on a weekly and daily basis as well. I don’t have to worry about so many things at once. I know the bases have been covered already and I can just coast along each week with the upcoming things to either prepare for or enjoy participating in.
Steps to take when planning a month ahead
Map out your calendar
Get a calendar or a bullet journal with a list of the days of the month and write in the following:
- ing events
- Scheduled Appointments
Next pencil in the following items where they might fit in the schedule:
- Appointments that need to be made
- Monthly activities/ events that need to be planned
- Events you want to host
- Projects you want to accomplish
After you’ve done this, it is a good time to connect with your spouse, merge your calendars and see where these more flexible things can fit in your schedule. Having them penciled in doesn’t meant they will permanently remain in that date, but will help you see if your calendar is too full and what you actually have room and time for.
Make actionable lists
In a notebook, journal or a note on your phone, create a page or list for the following:
- Any event that you have a responsibility to purchase or bring anything for
- Any event your are the planner or host of
Under each of these lists note any actionable things you need to get done.
Gifts to buy?
Decor to decide on?
Something to share?
Something to bring?
A gift for the host?
Things to pack or prep the night before?
Whatever comes to mind that would make that event more of a blessing to you, your family, and the other attendees.
Batching tasks together
Lastly, group like items together into another list by category of action
- Cards and invitations to buy
- Gifts to purchase
- Packaging to purchase
- Food to plan or bring
- Decorations for events
- etc. etc.
This will make it so much simpler to shop and prepare for what you need. For example, if you will need to bring a baked good to 2 different events you can make both at the same time and freeze one to have ready for the other.
*Note: Only batch actions together when it makes sense for YOU! If you don’t want to buy decor for 2 events at once, that’s up to you! You decide where streamlining creates less stress for you, or not. As long as you prioritize planning the first week for the next month’s first week- you will have plenty of margin to prepare for all you have on your plate.
Begin taking actionable steps
Move through your current month of planning with the corresponding next month’s week in mind.
I begin by taking actionable steps for the events first up on my calendar. If the front of your month is mostly birthday heavy, than start there. If there are social events you need to plan for, than do that planning first. Move through your current month of planning with the corresponding next months weeks in mind. This ensures you don’t get stuck still planning an event in the last week of the month that occurs the first week of the next!
It can all seem overwhelming until you break it down into actionable steps and don’t feel rushed because you have given yourself plenty of time to prepare what you need.
Planning a month ahead- summarized
- Buy a calendar and notebook, use google calendar and notes or journal calendar combo of your choice.
- Label each birthday and event for the upcoming month
- Write in any reoccuring upcoming events & appointments
- Pencil in events you want to host
- Pencil in project deadlines you plan to accomplish
- Make a note or page for each of these appointments that require further planning
- Create another list of actionable items that you can batch together from each list
- Begin taking action on the events coming up in the first week of the corresponding month!
I hope this blog post has helped you see a way to get ahead on your schedule for once. Let me know if you have any questions or if you try this and LOVE it, or even if you are confused!
As always, thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the interwebs!