Update: We keep the most up-to-date version of all of our planners on the Free Planners page.
The monthly level of perspective is the first level of perspective where we really start to see creative momentum start to happen. It’s also the level of perspective that many of us haven’t figured out yet. Think about it: you can probably easily plan your day and maybe your week. But the month might get away from you.
The Monthly Action Planner is our multi-purpose planner that helps you chunk your monthly projects down into weekly goals. It works with either the Weekly Project Planner or the Weekly Action Planner.
Here’s a quick rundown on how to use it. Start with…
Major events are the types of events that are going to disrupt your weekly flow. Often times, they’re either their own projects or they’re distracting enough to keep you from doing some things that you otherwise would.
Do you have any of the following events coming up?:
- Significant medical events
- Moves – as in, moving from one house or apartment to another
- A new job or a significant change in your current job responsibilities
If so, mark down when they happen. For instance, if you have a vacation that’s going to last two weeks, mark down what it is and when it will be in the Major Events block. I’d also make sure only put vacation-related goals down in the weeks you’re going to be on vacation; realistically, you’re probably not going to do anything else anyway, so you might as well get real about it now rather than beat yourself up during and after your vacation.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. After doing some brainstorming about your upcoming major events, move to…
Objectives are collections of projects that all go toward a certain goal. Fun fact: the English language doesn’t have a word for “big project” like it does for big house (mansion).
For instance, “Write The Awesomesauce Ebook” is an objective that’s broken down into component projects like “Write Chapter 1 of Awesomesauce Ebook.” The project “Write Chapter 1 of Amesomesauce Ebook” is broken down into discrete tasks.
While we’re on categories and organizing, you may find it useful to associate the level of actions with a timeframe. So:
- Objectives relate to months and quarters.
- Projects relate to weeks.
- Tasks relate to days
To be clear, I’m not saying that projects take weeks to accomplish – rather, I’m saying that projects should be the main focus when you’re doing your weekly planning.
Yes, these conventions violate GTD principles, but I’ve found that they’re a lot easier to understand and use.
Okay, so now that you’ve got the skeleton of your month laid out, you can move onto…
Below the two aforementioned blocks are blocks that correspond to each available week of the month. These blocks are where you write down what goals or projects you plan to work on during those weeks.
The little numbers do not necessarily relate to the numbers in the “Objective” block. However, the goals/projects that you put in here should relate to the objectives you listed.
For instance, let’s go back to the objective “Write The Awesomesauce Ebook.” That’s a great objective, but thinking about writing it won’t get it written. Writing it will get it written, and to write it, you have to allocate some time to it. Otherwise, it just becomes a bee that sleeps during the day and stings you at night.
The weekly blocks may frustrate the hell out of you because there are only five slots. These blocks are intentionally limited, though, for two reasons: 1) to keep overwhelm down, and 2) to force help you make meaningful stuff the priority. Time and resources are finite – make ’em count.
Get Momentum with the Monthly Action Planner
Strategic thinking, done correctly, helps you push the ball forward in a meaningful way because it helps you project effectiveness further into the future. Effectiveness comes from linking today’s action to this month’s objectives – that way you can work “in the trenches” with the confidence that it’s worthwhile.