How to Use a Weekly/Monthly Planner

 How To Use A Weekly/Monthly Planner

Maximize your productivity by using a weekly/monthly planner! By using this combination of both you'll have an easy overview of important events and tasks to complete. I've often wondered why the most popular layout is a weekly/monthly layout. So, I spent some time researching and here's what I found. It and found it allows for productivity without the distractions of unimportant tasks.

Using a weekly/monthly planner allows you to start with the monthly big picture goals and plans. Then, break it down into achievable weekly and daily tasks to achieve those goals. Many people start with daily tasks and just check off the things that fall into their lap to get done. But, if you start with larger goals and work downward from monthly to weekly and daily, it will help you achieve the goals you want rather than checking off to-do items that have nothing to do with your goals. In the rest of this article, I'll give more info on how to use a weekly/monthly planner for an organized and productive life.

Setting Up Your Planner

Before you grab any old pen and just start writing in a new planner, take a few minutes brainstorm and decide how you want to use this planner and the goals you have for it. Are you using this planner for personal, business, or family activities? Do have a lot of meetings to track or lots of to-dos? Thinking through how you will use this planner before you start writing in it is really helpful and insures you won't have "setup regret" later.

What's important to remember about your planner is that there are no rules. How you set it up is unique to YOU and meant to help you achieve your goals and plans, not anyone else's.

Choose Your Materials 

Decide what tools you are going to use ahead of time. Once you bring your planner home, are you going to use one color pen? Are you going to color code important dates/activities? Do you like to write your plans in one color and the kids' plans in different colors? Do you write business plans in one color and work appointments in another? Do you like to use stickers, washi tape, etc. to decorate your planner or do you keep a more minimalist approach? 

  • Planner

  • Writing tools

  • Stickers

  • Washi tape

  • Colored pencils

  • Stamps and ink

Start with the Monthly Layout

Begin working in your planner by thinking of the year as a whole. Go to each month and write in important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries. You can also add Federal holidays. Some planners already include this information, some don't. It just depends on the planner. For handy reference here's a list: Holidays and Observances in the US.

Next write in your upcoming events such as vacations, sporting events, concerts, parties, and travel plans.

Last but by no means least, use the monthly layout to set goals. Are you trying to lose weight? Save more money? Master a new skill? Grow your social media following? Plan out your goals and then note where you want to be for these each month. It's a great way to track your progress.

By looking at your year as a whole and then breaking it down, month by month, week by week, and day by day, you'll be able to set goals and then create a plan to achieve them.

Next Step Weekly Layout

Now that you've filled in the monthly calendar, go into the weekly spread and fill in the same information. It may seem redundant, but it's not. In the weekly layout, we're going to break those items out and then add the tasks that are needed to complete each goal.

Here's some goal examples and how to make them happen:

Lose 4 pounds a month. That's one pound a week. What tasks will you need to add to your to-do list each week to achieve that goal? Maybe it's exercise 3 times a week. Add workout to those days and then you're putting tasks into place to achieve that overall goal!

Saving money. Let's say you decide you want to save $100 per month. How will you go about that? Does it mean you won't buy a Starbuck coffee every day? Or maybe you pack your lunch instead of buying one. Or instead of going to Friday night movies, maybe opt for a Saturday matinee? Making these changes will allow you to achieve your goals effortlessly while tracking them in your weekly planner.

Social media goals. Let's say you decide, I really want to grow my Instagram followers. So, in your monthly layout you want to gain an additional 100 followers. Now in the weekly and daily goals you'll need a plan to achieve that goal. Maybe your to-do list will include following 20 people/day. Commenting on non-follower posts 10 times/day. Or posting 3 times/day. These are the actionable steps you can do to achieve that monthly goal. 

I just gave three examples of daily/weekly tasks to achieve goals. If you notice, they are all easy to do on a day-to-day basis. Often when you start with an overall goal for the year/month, it seems unobtainable. But, if you break it down into step-by-step easy tasks it makes that huge goal effortless to achieve!

More About Weekly Layouts

I've seen so many varieties of weekly layouts! Some such as Moleskine break out the week on one page and allow for notes on the next page. The benefit of this spread is that you can log holidays, appointments, and important reminders in the calendar part and use the notes side for weekly tasks and to-dos. 

Many other planners, such as the Happy Planner, provide the week broken out over a two-page spread with larger boxes for each day. So in this space you'll be able to add both your appointments and to-dos in the same box.

I've also seen planners that within the weekly spread, the days are blocked out in time format. This layout focuses on blocking out the time you'll need to achieve tasks rather than just making a to-do list. So for example, you have an upcoming holiday such as Halloween. You'll need schedule the time to choose a costume, buy candy, or go trick-or-treating.  This layout is effective because you have to plan the time along with the tasks and it allows you to realize the time it takes to complete those tasks.

Using the Monthly/Weekly Layouts Together

I used to have a really hard time understanding the difference between a monthly and weekly planner. I thought, why am i putting the same information in both places? 

Really, you aren't putting the same info in both places. Think of your monthly layout as a place to QUICKLY glance at plans and goals. The weekly layout allows you to FOCUS on the tasks that are needed to achieve those goals and plans. In other words, the monthly layout is not a place for tasks!

In the last section, I focused a lot on goals. But let's say you have some events coming up. One of the things you have on your monthly planner is Aunt Jennifer's surprise birthday party on May 11. Now using the weekly/daily plan, you'll be able to apply tasks for that event such as: Buy Gift for Aunt Jennifer, make appetizer for Aunt Jennifer's party, or blow up party balloons. 

Applying tasks to events, goals, and priorities makes them easy to achieve. You won't be scrambling at the last minute because you forgot to add them to your to-do list.

The monthly and weekly layouts go hand-in-hand and it's important to have them both to help you set life goals and achieve them.

I hope this post helped you to understand the importance of a weekly/monthly planner and how to use it. If you'd like more info on what tools I use for my planner, check them out here.

What other weekly/monthly tips do you have? Let me know in the comments below!