Monthly review. An oh so critical element to take a few minutes to celebrate the things done that month, identify mistakes, areas to improve and re-prioritise whether those things you didn’t get around to are actually worth scheduling for the next month.
For being such an important and (I find) effective thing to do – very few planners include a monthly review. Most planners do include notes pages either before or after the monthly calendar, or at the end of the planner. So if the planner you’re using doesn’t include a monthly review, here are 10 different ways to DIY your own.
1. The Questionnaire
Some questions to ask:
- Out of 10 (10 being the most), how happy am I with the progress I made on my goals this month?
- Go back to your brain dump / to do list from the start of the month (if you don’t already do this, I definitely recommend doing it from now on). Did you finish everything on your list? Are the things you didn’t do, things that you haven’t gotten around to for more than 3 months now? It may be time to drop the task
- Did I achieve a good work / life balance?
- Review your habit tracker (download one here) – what habits are you struggling to maintain?
2. A rating for each category
Some planners include goal sections split into different areas of your life. Typically they’re something like:
You could use their categories as a starting point and add categories that are specific to you.
3. Goal specific
For each goal that you set at the start of the month. Write the goal and list out exactly what you did during the month that took you closer to achieving that goal.
4. The brain dump list
This is the first thing I do at the end of the month. If you don’t keep a brain dump list at the start of the month, definitely try this option.
I use a completely blank piece of paper with no distractions. Then I start writing all the things I did that month. And I keep writing until I can’t think of anymore. I can usually fill a page.
At the same time, you may want to keep a list on another page of all the things you’d planned on doing (whether you wrote them down or not) but didn’t get around to.
by doing this you’ll get a better idea of where you’re spending most of your time.
5. Each category and notes
Similar to number 2 on this list, a simple table format with the goal category and what you achieved that month, for each category.
This helps you see where you are focusing your time – where you should spend less and where you need to focus more time. I.e. if one category is blank then you know you need to focus on that. Some goals may have 2 or 3 steps complete and be nearing completion so you may choose to focus on completing those etc. Then you can work out your priorities for next month.
6. By the numbers
If you like facts, this one’s for you. It’s especially useful for bloggers.
Some things to track:
- Blogging – pageviews
- Health – weight, calories per day, number of hours spent exercising
- Mood tracker
7. Habit Review
Don’t want to go into detail? Add 2 extra columns when setting up your habit tracker for next month. One column for goal (e.g. go to yoga 10 times this month) and another for total. This is a quick and easy way to track your progress each month.
8. Life in Pixels
Your mood says a lot about your happiness, which says a lot about whether you’re focusing your time on the right things. Plus color coded mood trackers add a pop of color to your planner.
9. Life Review
If you like journaling, you’ll like this method.
Write down everything that happened this month.
- Events (parties, celebrations etc.)
- Favorite memories
- Biggest lesson you learned for the month
- Anything else you’d like to track / journal / consider important to have in your life
10. What you didn’t get done
I find writing what I didn’t get done (but would’ve like to and / or had scheduled to do) just as effective than recording what I actually did do. A big brain dump list works well.
Then take it a step further and jot down some of the things you focused on too much, what you didn’t focus on enough.
And then take it a step further again and write down strategies on how you’re going to improve next month.
More planning tips
- Why I don’t use ring bound planners (and what I use instead)
- 6 Useful ways to efficiently plan your week using highlighters
- 50 Tips for writing a better to do list that will make you more productive
- Review of the Do It All Weekly Planner by Orange Circle Studio
- Review of the Plum Paper Me Planner
- Life Organized Weekly Planner by Paper House (similar to the Erin Condren Life Planner)
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