There is a mixed bag response about monthly planning. Some are dedicated to it, while others barely touch their monthly spread.
So which camp are you in?
In this blog, I’m going to use “monthly spread” and “monthly planner” interchangeably. Whichever way I say it, I’m referring to the 2-page spread of the 12 months in your planner.
The Case for Monthly Planning
Like sands through the hourglass…so are the months of a year. Or something like that.
Our time funnels down from years to months, months to weeks, and weeks into days.
Your months are an important part of the time cycle, and thus to our planning ecosystem.
Whether you plan from top down (years to days), or bottom up (days to years), your month is a pivotal middle ground for both.
The top down approach gives you 12 generous sections of time to break down your game plan. If it’s a project, you can map out your steps amongst your other responsibilities, which gives you a better look at your time.
If you have home team intentions (your people) to see them on a regular basis, your monthly spread will allow you to plan it in a way that doesn’t overlap or exhaust you (assuming you want to add white space to your life).
The bottom up approach allows you to scale your efforts. For example, if one of your core values is health – with the intention of getting solid sleep every night – your monthly planning will help you adjust your night and/or morning plans to get a proper shut eye.
Your monthly planner is like the limbs of a tree, which helps connect the years (trunk) of your life (roots) to your weeks and days (branches and leaves). It’s an integral part of the entire system.
The Anatomy of the Monthly Sprouted Planner
I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it. The monthly layout in the 2023 Sprouted Planners are dreamy.
In previous years, the boxes were not lined. As someone who cannot write straight to save my life, these lines were added.
Let me show you around the monthly view *she says with her best Vanna White arm display*
As already mentioned, the daily boxes are lined in light grey to help guide your writing.
There’s a 3-item reminder list, referring to your setup pages in the front:
- Year List
As you plan your month, these are reminders to check those 3 prep pages, and schedule anything relevant to them.
The grid space to the left of the calendar can be used for notes, lists, tracking, additional reminders, or anything else you can think of.
Each month has a different quote in the upper-right corner. These are the only quotes in the entire planner. The subject of the quote coordinates with the subtle theme of the month, which is also reflected in two of the Monthly Reflection questions at the end of each month.
There are 10 checkboxes, broken into 2-columns of five. Here, you can use this section for to-dos, goals, wish lists, cleaning lists, etc. The 2 columns allow you to designate different areas of your life, themes, people, and so on. For example, Personal and Business.
Previous & Next Month Calendar
Within two of the blank daily boxes is a mini calendar of the previous month and next month, for quick reference.
At the bottom of the right page is a blank space, lightly greyed out for visual depth and containment. This is a great space for random notes, doodles, stickers, quotes, memories, and anything else your beautiful little mind can think of.
Plan How You’ll Monthly Plan
Anyone getting Friends vibes from this header?
Decide in advance how you want to use your monthly spreads. You get to decide how detailed and lofty you want to plan your month. Or not at all lofty, and keep it simple as a straight scheduler, the end.
Look at each space and determine what you’ll use it for. What do you want to use your checkboxes for? What will you use the grid space for? How about that blank space?
When you’re referencing your prep pages for People, Reminder, and Year List, how will you utilize your monthly spread to take intentional action on these?
How to Plan in Your Monthly Planner
Telling someone how to plan is a little like telling someone how to do their makeup. Not everyone applies it the same way, in the same amount or style, and plenty of people don’t fill in their eyebrows.
Side note: I never filled in my pathetic eyebrows until this year, and now I can’t imagine my face without it.
That said, here’s my suggestions on how to best utilize your monthly planner.
Let the turn of a new month be your queue to plan your. Bonus points if you do this before it turns to the first.
Whether you are in a daily or weekly planner (or a straight monthly planner), use your monthly spread to schedule and plan everything outside the current week or day.
When you are planning your week and/or day, you’ll reference your monthly spread to complete your schedule.
At the beginning of the year (or you can do this month-by-month), fill in everything you already know: birthdays, anniversaries, no school/work days, vacations, appointments. Check out this post on setting up your months.
High five for clearing some headspace. People love this little checklist reminder so they don’t have to try and remember on their own.
At the beginning of each month, utilize the reminders to check your prep pages:
If you have the capacity, text your home team right then and there. You can simply let them know you are thinking about them. If it’s time for a catch up, initiate a plan to get together. If you don’t have the capacity to do that during your planning session, add it as a to-do in the checkboxes. Or list the people you want to connect with in your grid.
Check your reminders for that season and month, then schedule it into your month. Either commit it to a day, or add it to your checklist.
Look through your year list and decide if you want to take action on anything that month. Schedule it into a day or add it to your checklist.
Use your grid space to make notes that correspond to that week. For example, if you have school age kids, note Spring Break here so you’re not writing it across the entire week.
Another option is to use it as a list for home supplies you need, or things you want to clean/declutter. The grid a perfect place for an organized list.
Tracking! There’s over 31 rows, and 8 columns for you to monthly track what you need to. Reading plan, exercise, mood tracking, cycles, whatever.
Use your checklist as just that – a list of thing to do and check off. As already noted from the Reminders List, this is a great place to list your important intentional things from your prep pages.
If you are a goal setter, write down the things you’ll be accomplishing towards those goals that month.
It’s also a great spot to note random reminders. Currently on my various month checklists are “Finish Copywriting for Creatives course,” “cancel gymnastics on the 25th,” and “check camping supplies in the notes section.”
I’ll keep it organic and vibey, and not prescribe anything for this space. Typically, I’ll jot any random notes down here. Or I’ll sticker it. Often, it’s a space I’ll let my 3 year old scribble on to keep him entertained while I finish “one more thing, honey…color right here!”
If you want to try the monthly layout before you commit to a planner, you can download and print the monthly layout from the Printables page. Or you can use it for meal planning and stick it on your fridge, so your spouse knows what to start cooking if you’re not home yet. *ahem*
If you still need a planner, I’ve got options for you! You can looky-lou at all your options here.
Allow me to break it down for you too:
You can find these gorgeous monthly spreads in the Sprouted Planner Daily Planner or Weekly Planner.
You can also find a pared down version in the Monthly Planner.
Lastly, if you’re on an academic schedule, checkout the 2022-2023 Hourly Planner.
Cheers to intentionally planning your month!