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Planning for 2019: Quarterly and Monthly Planning

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Now that I’ve covered the overview of my Master Plan for 2019, I want to get into the actual planning part of my planner. In this YouTube video, I walk through planning a quarter and a month (the script I worked from is pasted below the video).

Hey, all, and welcome back to my YouTube channel. Today I want to talk about quarterly and monthly planning.

The Quarterly Plan

Because I worked in a corporate environment for the first decade-and-a-half of my adult life, I got very accustomed to the year being broken down into not just months, but also quarters. And there’s something about being able to plan something that needs to happen within the next three months rather than the next four weeks that makes it feel more attainable. Plus, sometimes there are things that we need two or three months for—like building and breaking habits.

So after my Master Plan spreads, I get to my Quarter 1 planning spread. There are a few things that I know will have to be done each quarter, so I went ahead and put those in on the computer before printing the pages—car maintenance and housekeeping. Yes, there’s a daily housekeeping list, too, but these are the big things, the tasks that only need to be done between one and four times per year rather than every month or every week or every day. Same thing with the car maintenance. And just for kicks, I added a quarterly car loan tracker. It’ll be paid off in July, so it’ll be really exciting to see that number dwindle for Quarter 2 and Quarter 3!

The other two boxes on this page are more for brainstorming/brain dumping. Some of the Things to Do and See are ideas of things I’d like to do, and some are must-dos. And, of course, there’s no way I can afford to eat at all the restaurants listed here in the next two months (since we’re already near the end of January and I haven’t eaten out once yet this month). Again, it’s more of a wish list than a to-do list.

The big piece for quarterly planning is my SMART goal for the quarter (I’ll link to my class on goal setting in the description box below). This is something that ties in with my master plan focus areas and something that can be completed in a three-month span of time. This first quarter, it’s getting myself onto a structured schedule for the work day. More than just “my work hours are 9 to 6, but actually following a plan for blocks of productivity time with scheduled breaks—with a plan for what to do during those scheduled breaks. And in addition to tying it back to several Master Plan categories, I’ve also written out specific action steps for myself to keep it top of mind as I go through the quarter planning my months and weeks—including a weekly review and evaluation of what worked and what didn’t, how I did with the schedule, and making revisions if necessary. All of this with specific results in mind—the main ones being the schedule becoming a habit, my work and overall productivity levels increasing, and my body clock resetting to the specific sleep and wake times.

Month-at-a-Glance Calendar
I like having a month-at-a-glance planner. But as you can see, I don’t write a whole lot on it. Everything on here are personal appointments or activities. I keep everything for work on my work Outlook calendar—and I also put in any appointment that fall during work hours into that calendar as well. I’m very much the kind of person that if I don’t write it down and give myself a visual reminder, I’m likely to miss it. (I also have all of my personal stuff in my personal Gmail calendar as well—for the electronic reminders when I don’t have the planner right in front of me.)

At the end of each month, I sit down at the computer and pull up the events calendar from the local newspaper as well as the Events section of Facebook and look for activities coming up to do the upcoming month. Because I moved to this city only a little more than a year ago, I’m still trying to plug in to the community. And I enjoy knowing what kinds of events and presentations the local museums, historic sites and society, and theater are doing that I might be interested in going to. All of that gets put on this monthly calendar.

Monthly Planning
The last week of the previous month, I also sit down and start filling in my monthly plan spread. For January, because I got really excited (and had a lot of time over Christmas break), I used my blank graph box for a whole bunch of Master Plan ideas for the month—more than I actually have been able to keep up with.

From my Master Plan, I narrow down three habits to build and three milestones—with rewards. Habits are things that I need to be doing daily and need to continue doing once this month ends. Milestones can be things that I can do all month—such as giving up fast food (except coffee shops, of course!)—or specific things I need to get accomplished that month, such as finding a local chiropractor and eye doctor, which I’d been putting off since I moved here. And each milestone comes with a reward, from something small, like buying stickers and decoration for the planner, eating out, or buying a ticket to a production at the theater that I want to see—making the reward commensurate with the milestone.

Then the rest of the spread is going back and looking at my Master Plan and coming up with specific tasks to do during the month. A lot of my Master Plan areas are things that I know I’ll be doing each month, so that’s why they’re printed instead of blank boxes. The only thing that I didn’t do on this page for January was the recap of the previous month, and that’s because I’d stopped using last year’s planner long before December. So I’ll do that at the beginning of February for the first time, since I’ve been using this all month.

Oh, and you may have noticed that I have a color theme for the month. I decided that instead of color-coding each category, which was making me crazy having to either look up the colors or memorize them, I’d go with a color scheme that matched the borders I dropped into the calendar pages before printing. Since my January snowflake border is in shades of blue and aqua, I decided to use those colors. And I really like the way that it’s turned out—which you’ll see more of in another video.

Because that’s how I plan my quarter and month. Next time, I’ll show not only how I plan my week, but how I designed the pages, if I can get the screencast to work!

If you like this content and would like to see more videos like this, please like and subscribe. If you have any questions about my planner or my process (or anything else!), please let me know in the comments! See ya next time.

My SMART Goal Planning course:

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