6 Steps To A Monthly Reflection

Published by The Connected Reader on

Do you ever feel like you have no margin? No downtime in your day? Like you are whac-a-mole-ing work and life tasks from the time you wake up until the time you collapse in bed at night?

I have felt this way. And maybe it’s just my personality, but when I feel this way, it’s not a good feeling. I don’t feel accomplished and powerful. I feel drained. I feel like I am drowning.

In the last year, I’ve been working on taking back control of my time. I wrote a bit about this in my review of Find Your Unicorn Space. One of the routines that is helping me to do that is a monthly reflection.

This is not a silver bullet. I don’t always do all of the pieces consistently. #workinprogress

But it does make me feel accomplished and powerful. It makes me feel like I have some control over my time. I can see what the pain points of the month will be and address them proactively. I can transparently communicate with my partner about what is coming up and share some of the mental load, as well as the executing load.

And this helps me create some margin in my month. Time to write and create. Time to read. Time to feel like me. 

Do you have a monthly reflection routine? If so, what does yours look like? How does it help you create space?

6 Steps To A Monthly Reflection

Steps that are working for me:

  • Make it an event – I look forward to the next two bullets below because they feel like an anchor to my month. At some point during the first week of the month, I use one of my early morning quiet times to journal and brain dump. I curl up on the couch with my notebook and flair pens. I have my coffee. I listen to music. Making the time feel special is key for me.
  • Journal – About a year and a half ago, I found this Southworth planner (and I love the monthly reflection pages. It has a “checking in” section that prompts you to think and share about the last month in general, then space to zoom in on wellness and gratitude. Then it has a “this month” section that prompts you to think about things to start, stop, and continue. Finally, there’s a “notes” section. I use this section to write a sentence or two about each person in my immediate family – just an anecdote or funny moment to remember each month.
  • Brain Dump – I don’t know about you, but I hold so many to-dos in my head. It feels freeing to put it all on paper at the beginning of the month. I think about myself, the kids, my partner, the dog, the house, and any holidays or events coming up with to-dos attached and I just write it all down.

Steps I’m still figuring out:

  • Connect with stakeholders – This is where you bring that brain dump to the people in your life who you need in order to complete the to-dos. For me, this is primarily my husband. We talk through the list, make decisions, and assign responsibility. What we are still figuring out is how to make this happen consistently. Sometimes the time slips away and it’s mid-month (or end of month) and we just haven’t connected about all the things. What I tried – and what worked – this month was making it an event, just like I do for my independent reflection. We planned for a post-kid-bedtime drink and meeting and it worked!
  • Schedule tasks – It’s funny. In my professional life, I’m all about scheduling time on the calendar for tasks. In my personal life I’m like, let me like this list of 78 things to get done this month, and let’s leave it as a list so I feel frozen with anxiety at the end of the month when I didn’t cross anything off. I’m working on taking the tasks I’m assigned and plotting them out over each week of the month.
  • Check the finances – For a year and a half, we lived off one income – first my husband’s, then mine – as each of us went through work layoffs. During this time, we monitored finances closely each month. Then when we became a two income household again, I just stopped monitoring. I set those bills to autopay and took a break because the last chunk of time had been exhausting. It’s time to update our monthly expenses, review our savings, and get back to monitoring every month.

2 Comments

Julie · December 7, 2022 at 7:03 pm

I love your six steps and especially like how you use your planner to write a sentence about each family member – what a great idea! Thank you for the inspiration. Here’s to finding margin!!

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