The beginning of a brand new month always feels fresh and full of promise. Capitalizing on that momentum is what I have found to be the trick for a successful 4 weeks. Concentrating on the details off the bat before there are any distractions, keeps the upcoming weeks together even when things pop up that are out of your control.
With March’s arrival and Spring Equinox right around the bend, I’m about to do my monthly “Welcome” where I tidy and sort so that the upcoming 31 days can go as smooth as possible. This month in particular, I’m going to include spring cleaning and some garden planning.
Work wise, the last week of the month is when I run my analytics and find out where the gaps are. This helps me in terms of productivity because I can make special notes in my planner for things to follow up on, or to do better over the course of the next 4 weeks. Every new month is a new chance to tighten up, organize, and do things better than the month before. It takes evaluation and a willingness to get organized. And even when you think that you are organized, you learn more and do more to be better organized, and on and on. Organization and planning is an art or golf in that it’s never mastered and the variables constantly evolve. That’s what makes it so stinking fun!!
With that said and without further ado, here are some things to do to help you make the most of the next 31!
Finance: Organize receipts, balance accounts & review budget
I’m really into budgets and personal finance. As outlined in this blog before, I do my finances more than once per month. But at the 1st of the month, I do go in and add notes to my planner about any invoices coming up that are not the norm; soccer registration, quarterly water bill, and the like.
When it comes to receipts, once the amount has been debited from my account, and I no longer need it to make a return/exchange, I recycle it. The only exception to this is if I need it for taxes. If so, it gets filed away into either a personal or business binder. I never let them pile up for more than 1 month. Often, I have the time to do it weekly or as needed.
Looking at your finances in a “big picture” kind of way really helps. I’ve noticed a definite change in my spending and saving habits when I look back at the previous 30 days and see things to be mindful of. Often, I’ve learned new information from a book or a YouTube video and can now do something better going forward. The more organized and prudent I get about it, the better my finances get and doing a “bird’s eye view” at the start of the month has been key to my progress and growth.
Home: Make a stock up list, plan monthly zone cleaning & clean the basement
Over the course of the last week in the month, I start to take inventory around the house; TP, spices, condiments, canned goods, dog food, cat food/litter, cleaning supplies, personal products. I make a list and I stick with it when it comes time to go to the store. I’ve spent the better part of the last 5 years knowing what works, what their prices are and where I can find the best deal. Now it doesn’t take me but 20 minutes and one store to stock my household. If you need help getting started in this arena, here is a post that I wrote on stocking up & inventories that will help.
At this time, I also note where I am with “zone cleaning”. I look back at what was deep cleaned the following month, and I put into my planner the next room to be done and break the tasks down to 30 minutes per day. If you want to know more about zone cleaning and the fastest way to deep clean your home a little at a time and make your efforts last, go here.
I make sure that I get into the basement in the beginning of the month and tidy it up. I purge a bit too. As an example of how great this task can be, I am down to one tote of Dylan’s baby clothes and I am finally ready to let them be a blessing to someone else. It took me years of looking at it once per month, and dwindling down the “special pile” to one tote, but making yourself look at your belongings often prevents that out of sight out of mind syndrome. Eventually, you’ll be ready to pass things on and open up space. Give your basement a good sweep, and don’t forget to wash your washing machine by filling up the basket with hot water and 1 cup of vinegar and letting it cycle thorough. This will clean out the hoses and break down the detergent and debris that’s built up in it over the past month. Your laundry will come out even fresher.
Personal: Schedule appointments, send birthday cards & plan personal time
I make it a habit to schedule my next appointment when I am paying. Whether it’s for a haircut, a chiropractor appointment, or for a follow up, I never take the option of calling later. At the beginning of the month, I look over my planner and plug their costs into the aforementioned budget. However, sometimes things come up or I want a consultation to budget for the upcoming future and as a professional, I know that calling a professional at the beginning of the month is best. This gives the most flexibility for both parties and I usually get first pick because usually their schedule hasn’t filled in yet.
When it comes to birthdays and anniversaries, I try my best but I’ve been failing miserably. I want to be like my late Godmother who sent a card to hundreds, if not thousands of friends and colleagues monthly. She never forgot a birthday or an anniversary, and everyone got holiday cards…all holidays. I didn’t even know that they made Thanksgiving greeting cards until her. Even if you only send one card out per month, we haveto get back to the written word and deep connection in society. It’s really the only way that we are going to survive.
For the same reasons that you book professionals at the beginning of the month, you should plan time for yourself as well. Take this time to say hello to someone and see if they want to meet for coffee. Block out a section of time in your planner where you make sure that you have nothing to do and use that time to follow your bliss. I’ve gotten pretty good at this lately and my family even followed suit. Now we all have our alone time, one on one time, and time all together and it’s made the difference in all of us.
Miscellaneous: Detail vehicle/maintenance, review next 90 days, set goals, purge emails, & read community newsletters
Every month I look over Jennie the GMC and see what she needs. She gets detailed every week, but if you don’t do it that often then the 1st of the month is a good time to get that done. Especially coming out of winter, you’ll want to get the undercarriage fully washed by going through a commercial washer, to get the salt off or it will deteriorate your important parts like sway links.
While you are looking over the upcoming month, take a minute to look at what the next 90 days will be bringing you. Vacation? Birthdays? Events? Start to plan now for what you will need for these things and place them into your budget/make notes to gather what you’ll need so they will be at the ready.
In terms of goal setting, a fresh month with a near blank slate is the best time to evaluate what can be worked on, grown, or done away with over the next 4 weeks. It takes 27 times to make a habit so starting out the way that you want to go will bring you far.
Purge your emails and get down to inbox zero monthly if not more often. The best way to do this is to take the time to unsubscribe from all that is unnecessary so that next month you’re not wading through expired offers. I use a tool called unrollme.com. This service brings me all of my usual emails once per day. It also catches all of the junk mail, and allows me to mass unsubscribe right in the tool. It keeps my inbox tidy so I can respond to personal emails timely and get to inbox zero daily.
While evaluating your emails, take this time to read your community newsletters. This gives you information about what is happening in your neighborhood so that you can make a note in your planner and attend, or have talking points and information to pass on to your neighbors when you see them. As an editor for a community newsletter, I can promise that they are packed full of great information and you never know what event is coming up that you will want to get involved in. Just like getting back to the written word, getting more involved in our neighborhoods is what is going to save us as a society.
So there it is, my best tips that keep your month smooth and productive. We stand at the brink of a brand new season, so this month in particular it’s a great idea to start off as fresh as can be.