First Published: January 18, 2021 | Last Updated: January 18, 2021

The gist: we're diving deep into my monthly planning process and look at the 3 tools and overall routine that I use when planning for a new month in Notion, a bullet journal, and a calendar.

What happens once a month, lasts for a few days, and absolutely requires a decent supply of chocolate?

Well, my period, yes, but we're not talking about that today.

I'm talking about my monthly planning process. πŸ€“

In this video we're going to walk through the whole routine and the 3 tools I use for it.

How to Plan Your Month

If there's one thing you need to know about me personally, it's that one of the longest and most stable relationships of my life is the one I have with planners.

Sure, I've been with my partner for 12 years, but honestly that's nothing compared to the 22-year relationship planners and I have going.

As soon as my school started handing them out to us when I was in 4th grade, it was love and codependence at first sight. 😍

Fun fact: In college once, I went home for the weekend and left my planner there, and needed to call my mom nightly to have her read off what I had in there for the following day. And I still wonder whether she hid the planner so I'd call more. 

But that's beside the point.

Whether I called it an agenda, a calendar, or a planner, whether it's been analog, digital, or a hybrid of the two, they've always been a part of my work life.

Whenever I fall out of the habit of maintaining it, or consider not using one, I'm just reminded of how much easier it makes my life.

Between juggling multiple jobs and commitments, being neurodivergent, having brain fog from chronic illnesses, and just perpetually overcomitting myself, I have no desire to keep track of everything going on in my life in my head.


And these days, the main maintenance involved is my monthly and weekly planning sessions.

In this post, I'll focus on monthly, but if you want a look at the weekly version, comment on the video and let me know below.

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About My Monthly Planning Process

The three main planning tools I use right now are a bullet journal, Notion, and a calendar. (The calendar is powered by Google Calendar, but I open it in the app Woven.)

And the methodology that I use for my monthly plans is the Practical Planning process.

You can watch the video below for a background on the strategy, since this post will focus on tools and implementation.

Step 1: Check Monthly Calendar in Woven

The first thing I do is check what events or appointments I have scheduled. For this I'll open up Woven and toggle on the right calendars.

woven monthly calendar

The reason I switched to Woven in 2020 has to do with the time blocking I do in my weekly and daily planning.

But for monthly planning, I:

  • Open up the monthly calendar view
  • Review anything appointments, meetings, or events for the month
  • Make sure each event is color coded correctly for me to do more detailed planning later

Once I've reviewed the events on my calendar, I'll list them out in my bullet journal's monthly spread.

Step 2: Create Bullet Journal Monthly Spread

My bullet journal is extreeeemely simple and minimalist, everything is literally either a list or a square box. The only thing keeping it from being as minimalist as possible is that I do like to add pops of color.

(Because obviously, working brighter. πŸ™ƒ)

bullet journal monthly spread event log

These events go first because they tend to be the most non-negotiable. They're events or meetings I already committed to.

Whereas since I'm self-employed, everything else is a little more flexible.

Once that's done, I'm finished with Woven and switch over to Notion for the remainder of screen portion of my routine. The bullet journal will come back later.

Are you ready to start working brighter?

Productivity isn't black and white, it's personal as hell. And there's no single lifehack or framework to solve your problems. 

Sign up to get weekly tips and stories to help you create your OWN definition of productivity working better and brighter.

Step 3: Notion Monthly Dashboard

If you've watched my webinar on Notion, you know that I use it for pretty much everything. πŸ€“

But for monthly planning, I'm looking at:

  • My projects database (a linked view of it)
  • My tasks database (a linked view of it)
  • A monthly dashboard/spread

The monthly spread I set up in Notion is similar to the one I set up in my bullet journal, but more detailed.

notion monthly dashboard

The point of my journal, in general, is for an overview of just the most important stuff in my Notion, where every detail of every plan lives.

When I've got the events typed out, I'll embed a linked view of the projects database and pick out the projects I'm gonna make progress on throughout the month.

Once they're selected, I'll add date ranges to anything with hard dates to keep in mind like client deadlines or online events in the Work Brighter Clubhouse.

After I've finalized which projects I'm working on, I write them out in my bullet journal.

I'll also break them down by which area of my life they fall under: Work Brighter, my other business, or personal stuff.

Step 4: Detailed Task Breakdown

Now that the projects are finalized, I'm done thinking about the bigger umbrellas and projects (or snowmen using Practical Planning).

That means I can start drilling down to tasks.

I'll go into the page for each of the projects I'm going to be working on, and add in the details I need to make progress on them.

notion project dashboard task breakdown section

The most important part of that, especially in this stage, is making sure I start thinking of what tasks are involved and adding them in so I can schedule them out for the month.

Step 5: Braindump Random Tasks

The last thing I do for planning is braindump any stray tasks that might not be tied to full projects.

These are usually things random admin stuff or nice-to-have goals, the carrots in the Practical Planning process.

And then the last thing I do for this overall process, while not strictly planning, is to write out any intentions or goals for the month. This might be stuff like income goals or personal milestones I want to hit, just a bit of journaling on stuff like that.

Start a Monthly Reset Routine

Those are the 3 most important things I do to prepare for the month ahead, usually the last Sunday of the previous month.

On that Sunday, I also do a few other things along with this monthly planning routine as part of a monthly reset, which I can make a separate video about.