Five Steps to Having a Productive Month

By Ali Luke

March 27, 2011   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man


Maybe all of your days tend to go smoothly. You’re good at getting up on time, doing your work, and making sure that you relax. The problem is, you feel like things are not quite adding up. On a day to day basis, things are pretty good – but month-by-month, you don’t feel like you’re making progress.

Do you plan for the month ahead? Most of us don’t – if I’m truthful, I don’t always manage this myself. But a bit of forethought can make a huge difference.

Here’s how to have a great month:

Step #1: Spend Fifteen Minutes Planning
You certainly don’t need to schedule out every day of the month ahead – but spending just a few minutes planning can have a huge impact. Rather than just taking life day-by-day, you can look ahead to ensure that you’re on track with bigger projects.

The rest of the steps pretty much require some forethought, so get your calendar ready. If you don’t tend to do much planning or if your current system doesn’t seem to be working, I highly recommend Charlie Gilkey’s Monthly Action Planners.

Step #2: Take a Full Weekend Off
We all need down time. It’s a vital part of staying healthy and being able to work creatively. If you’re working 9 – 5 in an office all week and then carrying on with your own projects (or chores) every weekend, you’re going to be feeling stressed-out and tired.

When planning your month, find a weekend which you can block of purely for guilt-free leisure time. You can spend it however you like – but you might also want to look ahead to see whether there are tickets you want to book, or friends you want to meet up with.

It’s easy to get to the weekend and end up watching television or playing video games, not because you especially want to, but because you don’t know what else to do. Planning ahead can let you enjoy weekends that you remember all year.

Step #3: Tackle Some Bigger Goals
Most goals are too big to be accomplished in a single day, or even a week – but not so big that they’ll take a whole year.

Maybe you’re trying to cut down on caffeine. You might not manage it in a week, but across a month, you could see a radical decrease in your consumption. By planning ahead a bit, you can set smaller goals and targets: cutting down a little bit more each week.

Maybe you’re trying to lose weight. You know you could be at your target within a year, but it’s hard to stay focused when some weeks see your weight staying level for no obvious reason. If you plan ahead for the month, you can see sustained changes.

Step #4: Take on a New Project
A lot can be accomplished – not just started on, but finished – within a single month. Take NaNoWriMo, for instance, where participants write a 50,000 word novel during November – that’s a challenge, but a possible one. Think how great your month would be if you accomplished something like that!

Of course, you don’t need to take on anything hugely ambitious. Perhaps your project is to finally get the garage cleared out, or to sell a stack of old DVDs on ebay, or to do some work in your garden, or to learn to cook four new meals. Look for something which you can complete during a month – that way, you’ll get the satisfaction of seeing real progress.

Step #5: Consider a 30-day Trial
Is there some big chance you’re considering – like getting up at 6am instead of 8am, or quitting alcohol, exercising daily, or becoming vegetarian?

Maybe it seems like something you’d like to try, but which you’re not sure about committing to. How about giving it a 30-day trial? If you decide the change doesn’t suit you, just stop after the month is over. But if you decide that it’s been worth it, then this month just might have been one of the most important in your life.

How will you make next month one of your best months ever?

Ali Luke

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