Ah, the start of a new month. With it, comes endless possibilities to accomplish your goals, knock things off your to-do list, and up-level your habits. Depending on where you’re at in your menstrual cycle, the start of a new month may coincide with feeling jazzed to start a new project (like, spring cleaning). There is something exciting about turning your calendar over to the next month. We’re days into March, and there’s no better time to get organized. After all, an organized start to the month can set you up for success—both personally and professionally. Spoiler alert: it will also lower your stress. Without further ado, let’s dive into tips for a productive new month routine.
Set an intention
When it comes to creating a productive new month routine, begin with an intention. What do you want to manifest for the month? What is (or are) your intention(s)? What do you want the energy to be like? Is there a particular word—or words—that call to you? Jot this down. For example, maybe your intention for the month is to be more conscious of your spending. Your theme would be financial boundaries. Getting clear on your intention for the month will help guide your choices and decision-making. With the theme of financial boundaries in mind, the next logical step is to create a spreadsheet of every expense. Keep this tab open on your computer or phone for easy access. Update it every day. By the end of the month, you’ll have undeniable data. Thus, you’ve taken the first step to conscious spending.
Do a Mind dump
Ever tried tackling a project without organizing all the pieces first? Consider your start-of-the-month mind dump as the precursor to tacking a project. The goal here is to get everything on paper. This mind dump can include things like returning clothes, paying bills, cleaning the toilet, or baking a cake for your child’s birthday. Anything goes—tasks, responsibilities, happy hour with friends, and random to-dos. It’s whatever you must get done during the month (or things you’ve committed to!). I’m old school, but I like to mind dump in a bullet journal. Otherwise, you can use your computer’s built-in notes app, Evernote, or an iPad app for note-taking.
separate Priorities from to-dos
Yes, there’s a difference. I often talk about this with my clients, but there’s a difference between your priority list and your to-do list. Priorities are your bigger “rocks” (the pillars of your life and your values). For example, priorities might include cooking seasonal meals, moving your body every day, balancing your blood sugar, and spending time with your family. Our to-do list, on the other hand, are all of the random task and responsibilities we have—emails, work projects, picking up the kids from school, etc. Once you do your mind dump, separate your long list from priorities vs. to-dos. Ultimately, the goal is to find a balance between both. If we only tackle our to-dos, we aren’t prioritizing what’s important in life. Vice versa, if we are only focusing on our priorities, it’s likely that we’ll eventually get bogged down by to-dos.
Transfer your list to a calendar
Next step: put your mind dump in your calendar. Google Calendar, iCloud, Monday.com, Asana—whatever floats your boat. I use a combination of Google Calendar, synced across my devices, as well as Asana. Make your system work for you. Color code according to the type of event (personal, work, kids, family, etc.) and make sure you have your calendar in more than one place. Maybe you like having a handwritten calendar in the kitchen but you also have your events on your Google Calendar with notification reminders. Through trial and error, you’ll find what works best.
Don’t forget home admin tasks
Lastly, as you organize your calendar, choose 1-2 days during the month to get “home admin” tasks done. These are things like paying bills, sending snail mail / buying stamps, donating unused clothes, and cleaning out the pantry. Choose a full day or two half-days to do this. Feel free to add in things like, clearing your desktop clutter, unfollowing people on social media, etc.
P.s. If something from your mind dump isn’t urgent, put it on the follow month’s mind dump, then add it to your calendar.
Get your inbox under control
Truth be told, my inbox needs a declutter. However, I’ve learned that one of the best things you can implement in a productive new month routine is an inbox strategy. Whether you jive with folders, labels, or any type of structure, a clean inbox is an easier-to-manage inbox. If you haven’t tried batch responding to your emails, give it a go this month. A few other tips: try Spark (zero inbox, baby!) and Leave Me Alone (to easily unsubscribe—forever—from emails). Don’t become a slave to your inbox. Make it work for you.
If you’re a people-pleaser like me, begin setting boundaries this month. You’ll quickly avoid certain people, tasks, and experiences that currently cause stress. In turn, you’ll make space for more of what makes you feel grounded, inspired, and happy. When you get clear on what you’re comfortable with—and what you’re not—you’ll protect yourself from relationships that may cross certain boundaries. This also means putting your phone on Do Not Disturb as frequently as necessary. It takes practice, but standing firm to what you will (and won’t) tolerate is game-changing. I highly recommend this book to get started.
Acknowledge that self-care is productive
When we prioritize the important things, we live and breathe the essence of self-care. Unlike we’re lead to believe, self-care isn’t just candlelit baths and face masks. Self-care means building a life that sparks joy. Said differently: self-care isn’t living in a constant state of burn out, running on coffee and cortisol every morning, or working a stressful job. At the end of the day, we must acknowledge that self-care is productive. As we create our productive new month routine, we need to think about our feel-good habits—movement, meditation, listening to a podcast on a leisure walk, etc. At the end of the day, a productive month includes daily self-care. The more efficient, intentional, and productive we are with our time, the more ease and rest we can fit into our days.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider.