How to Use a Monthly Planner: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Use a Monthly Planner - calendar + notebook

The Erin Condren Monthly Planner is more than just a calendar book—it's your ultimate tool for staying organized and inspired. Whether you're a seasoned planner pro or just starting out, this guide will help you unlock the full potential of your planner, turning it into your go-to resource for productivity and purpose.

Step 1: Define Your Planning Purpose.

Before diving into setting up your calendar book, take a moment to think about how you'll use it. Here are some questions to help you get started:

Goal-Getter or Schedule Master?

Are you laser-focused on achieving specific goals each month, or do you prefer a clear picture of your appointments and deadlines? Understanding your primary use case will help you tailor your monthly planning approach. Identifying whether you are a goal-getter or schedule master can guide your planner setup and ensure you get the most out of your Monthly Planner. This clarity will streamline your planning process and make your monthly goals and tasks more manageable.

Work, Life, and Beyond

How will you integrate different aspects of your life into your custom monthly planner? Do you need dedicated sections for work projects, personal errands, or health and wellness goals? Balancing these aspects in your planner can help you maintain a comprehensive overview of your commitments and ensure nothing falls through the cracks. This holistic approach ensures your planner serves all areas of your life effectively.

Step 2: Goal Setting Like a Boss

How to Use a Monthly Planner - habit tracking

Your Erin Condren Monthly Planner has a fantastic two-page goal-setting spread. Here’s how to make the most of it:

Brainstorming Bonanza

Grab a pen and let your ideas flow! Write down everything you want to achieve this month, big or small. Don't hold back during this brainstorming session; the key is to capture all your aspirations and ideas. Once everything is down on paper, you can start to refine and prioritize your goals.

Prioritization Powerhouse

From your list, identify the 3-5 most important goals. These are your "rockstar goals" for the month, demanding your focused attention. Prioritizing helps you channel your energy into what matters most and increases the likelihood of achieving your significant objectives. By focusing on these key goals, you can make meaningful progress each month.

Get Savvy with SMART Goals.

For each rockstar goal, apply the SMART framework. Is it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound? Refining your goals this way increases your chances of success. This structured approach ensures that your goals are clear and actionable, providing a concrete roadmap to follow. It also allows you to track your progress and adjust your strategies as needed.

Learn more about How to Set Goals and achieve them.

Visualize Your Success.

Decorate your goal spread with inspiring quotes, images, or stickers that represent your aspirations. Visual reminders keep you motivated throughout the month. These elements can make your goals feel more tangible and real, keeping you inspired and focused. Plus, the creative process of decorating can be both fun and motivating.

Step 3: Mastering Your Monthly Calendar

How to Use a Monthly Planner - monthly calendar

The monthly calendar grid is the heart of your personalizable monthly planner. Here’s how to make it work for you:

Tangible Time Management

Block out all your existing commitments—appointments, meetings, deadlines, recurring events—onto the calendar grid. Seeing your schedule visually helps you spot potential conflicts and overloaded days. This proactive step ensures that you have a clear view of your month and can plan effectively. It also allows you to allocate time for new tasks and activities without overcommitting yourself. (Not overcommitting is a game-changer! What would you like to do with more free time?)

Color-Coordination Is Key

Use colorful pens or highlighters to categorize your commitments. For example, work obligations in blue, personal projects in green, and social events in purple. This creates a quick visual reference for your schedule. Color-coding makes it easier to distinguish between different types of tasks at a glance, improving your overall efficiency. This method also adds a vibrant and fun element to your planning routine.

Habit Tracker Hero

The Erin Condren Monthly Planner includes dedicated habit trackers. Use them to monitor daily or weekly habits you want to cultivate, like exercise, reading, or meditation. Checking a box each day is surprisingly motivating! Habit trackers help you stay accountable and provide a visual representation of your progress. Consistently tracking habits can lead to significant improvements in your daily routine and overall well-being.

Marking Milestones

Don’t forget to acknowledge your achievements! Mark important milestones (completed projects, presentations delivered, personal bests) on your monthly planner with a celebratory sticker or washi tape. Celebrating milestones not only boosts your motivation but also provides a sense of accomplishment. It reminds you of the progress you've made and encourages you to keep pushing toward your goals.

Step 4: Noteworthy Notes

The Erin Condren Monthly Planner is packed with note-taking sections, perfect for capturing ideas, brainstorming solutions, or journaling your thoughts and feelings. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Meeting Minutes Master

Use the note section next to a specific calendar entry to capture key points or action items from meetings. This ensures that important information is recorded and easily accessible when needed. By keeping meeting notes organized, you can follow up on action items and track progress effectively.

Unburdened Brain

Feeling overwhelmed by too many to-dos, or encountering a roadblock on a project? Use your calendar + notebook's lined pages to download the contents of your brain onto paper (a brain dump, if you will). This will help you clear your mind and better prioritize what's worth keeping and what's worth letting go.

You can also convert a brain dump into a brainstorm of solutions and potential next steps. There are so many ways to use your calendar + notebook as a space to record ideas that you can revisit and refine later.

Attitude of Gratitude

Dedicate some of your note pages to daily gratitude. Focusing on the positive aspects of your life can boost your mood and motivation. Writing down what you are grateful for helps you maintain a positive mindset and appreciate the good things in your life. This practice can significantly reduce stress and improve your overall well-being and happiness.

Step 5: Embracing Creativity and Customization

How to Use a Monthly Planner - customize your planner

Your monthly planner is more than just a functional tool—it’s a canvas for your creativity! Here are some ways to personalize your custom calendar planner and make it truly your own:

Sticker Strategy

Stick to stylish organization with planner stickers, from functional reminder stickers to decorative designs. Use them to color-code your tasks, highlight important dates, or simply add a touch of whimsy to your planner. Stickers not only enhance the visual appeal of your planner but also make it more functional. They can serve as quick reminders and add a personal touch to your planning routine.

Learn more about How to Use Stickers in Your Planner.

Washi Tape Wizardry

Washi tape is a colorful, repositionable tape that’s perfect for creating borders, section dividers, or decorative accents in your planner. Let your imagination run wild! This versatile tool can help you organize your monthly planner in a visually appealing way. You can use washi tape to highlight important sections, turn note pages into a custom dashboard to track your moods, or create sections for daily and weekly to-do lists, or anything at all! You can also use washi tape to simply to add a pop of color to your pages.

Explore more ways to Make Your Planner Stick Out with Washi Tape.

Aesthetic Embellishments

Feeling artistic? Don’t be afraid to enhance your planner with hand-drawn doodles, sketches, or lettering. Your planner is a reflection of you, so let your personality shine through! Adding your own artistic touches can make your planner a joy to use and look at. It also allows you to express your creativity and make your planning process more enjoyable.

Step 6: Maintaining Momentum

Sticking to a planning routine can be challenging, especially during busy months. Here are some tips to keep your planner habit going strong:

Schedule Planning Time.

Just like any other important task, schedule dedicated time in your week to review your planner, update your to-do lists, and set goals for the upcoming week. Regular planning sessions ensure that you stay on top of your commitments and make necessary adjustments. This consistent habit helps you stay organized and reduces the likelihood of overlooked tasks.

Review and Reflect.

Take some time each week or month to reflect on your progress. Did you achieve your goals? What worked well with your planning approach? What could be improved? Regular reflection helps you refine your planning strategies for future success. This process of self-assessment allows you to celebrate your successes and learn from your challenges.

Celebrate Your Wins.

Don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments, big or small! Taking a moment to acknowledge your progress will keep you motivated and on track. Celebrating your wins reinforces positive behavior and keeps you focused on your goals. It's important to recognize and reward your hard work and dedication.

Step 7: Beyond the Monthly Spread

How to Use a Monthly Planner - beyond the calendar

The Erin Condren Monthly Planner offers a variety of additional features beyond the monthly planning spread, waiting to be explored:

12-Box Spread

Use your 12-box spreads for bigger-picture goal setting, a yearly bucket list, or as a vision board. This 12-box spread provides a bird's-eye view of each month and your year as a whole. It's great for keeping your eye on what matters most and ensuring that you stay on top of your priorities. This customizable planning spread also helps you track your progress over a longer period (your year at a glance, if you will).

Goal Progress Tracker

The Erin Condren Monthly Planner also includes a dedicated productivity tracker page for each month. Use it to monitor your progress towards your rockstar goals throughout the month. Tracking your progress helps you stay accountable and focused on your objectives. It also provides a clear visual representation of how far you've come and what still needs to be done. This feature is invaluable for maintaining momentum and ensuring that you stay on track with your goals.

Note Pages

The Erin Condren Monthly Planner is brimming with lined note pages. Use them for anything your heart desires—project brainstorming, gratitude journaling, or even creative writing! These pages offer a flexible space for capturing thoughts and ideas that don't fit neatly into your monthly calendar spreads. They are perfect for jotting down notes, brainstorming new projects, or simply expressing your creativity. This flexibility ensures that your planner meets all your needs, both practical and creative.

Step 8: Further Customize Your Monthly Planner with Add-On Pages

The Erin Condren Monthly Planner is designed to be modular and adaptable to your ever-changing needs. Take your planner customization a step further with add-on inserts, allowing you to create a customizable monthly planner that perfectly reflects your lifestyle.

Work Project Add-On Pages

Feeling overwhelmed by complex work projects? The Work Project Add-On Pages provide a structured framework to manage even the most demanding initiatives. Each spread features dedicated sections for your project details, timeline, resources needed, to-do lists, and an open section for notes, team member assignments, and more. Keep track of key milestones, deadlines, and action items all in one convenient location, ensuring a smooth workflow for any project you tackle.

Productivity Add-On Pages

Do you crave a central hub for all your organizational needs? The Productivity Add-On Pages offer a variety of versatile sections designed to boost your overall efficiency. Checklists for to-dos, dot grid sections for bullet journaling, charting, notes, and more. Blank sections for creative trackers, priorities, inspiration, and motivation. And lined sections for journaling, notes, planning, and beyond.

Whether you're a student, a busy professional, or simply thrive on a structured approach to organization, these add-on pages can become your one-stop shop for keeping track of daily habits, brainstorming creative solutions, and maintaining organized project plans.

Additional Lined Note Pages

Need more space to capture your thoughts, ideas, or important notes? Additional Lined Note Pages inserts provide the perfect blank canvas for all your note-taking needs. The high-quality paper ensures smooth writing and minimal bleed-through, making them ideal for anyone who craves additional space for brainstorming sessions, meeting minutes, journaling entries, or simply capturing random thoughts and ideas throughout your day.

Budgeting Add-On Pages

Take control of your finances with the Budgeting Add-On Pages. These pages feature helpful expense spending summaries, savings tracker, and debt or payment plan trackers to help you stay on top of your budget and reach your financial goals. If you want to take a more proactive approach to managing your finances, these add-on pages can be your secret weapon. Track your income and expenses, set financial goals, and develop a personalized budgeting plan using these convenient inserts, all within your Erin Condren Monthly Planner.

Goal Setting Add-On Pages

Enhance your monthly planner with goal-setting inserts to set, track, and reach any goal (for work, school, health and wellness, anything you want to achieve). Set your goal start and ideal completion date, add your details, break it up into doable action steps, and track your progress easily from your planner. The goal-setting inserts even have sections for inspiration, celebrating milestones, notes, and more. It's true what they say: you're more likely to reach the goals you write down (and even more so the ones you plan out and track)!

By incorporating these add-on inserts, you can transform your monthly planner into a comprehensive productivity and organization powerhouse, tailored to your specific needs and goals. Remember, your planner is a personal tool – don’t be afraid to experiment and find a monthly planning system that works best for you!

The Erin Condren Monthly Planner is a versatile tool that can be customized to fit your unique needs and goals. By following the tips and tricks outlined above, you can transform your planner into a command center for productivity, creativity, and overall well-being. So grab your monthly planner, unleash your inner organizer, and get ready to take charge of your month!

Discover More Ways to Personalize Your Monthly Planning Experience

How to Use a Monthly Planner - planner accessories to personalize your planner

Beyond the basics, there are countless ways to make your monthly planner truly yours. From interchangeable covers to unique planner folios and bookmarks, discover a variety of accessories to enhance your monthly planning experience. Explore the possibilities and find what works best for you, making your planner an indispensable part of organized living.

Planning Guides, Tips + Organization Inspiration!

Stay motivated with these popular guides for planning and organization + productivity: