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HOW TO PLAN YOUR MONTH LIKE A BOSS:7 STEPS TO ACHIEVING AN ORGANIZED AND PRODUCTIVE MONTH IN 2019

HOW TO PLAN YOUR MONTH LIKE A BOSS:7 STEPS TO ACHIEVING AN ORGANIZED AND PRODUCTIVE MONTH IN 2019


Hey, Fam!

We hope that you are excited to plan the last month of the second quarter like a boss! That’s right, we are in the last month of the second quarter of 2019.

CRAZY, ISN’T IT???

If you’ve been around these parts for a while, then you know that we live by the motto that “You can have everything you want in life at the same time, but not on the same day.”

Essentially this means that, rather than trying to balance it all, we evaluate our priorities day by day, decide on what is most important for the day, and execute that, knowing that there is always a tradeoff.

Spending time with our family on one day means we won’t spend time on or our blog or our jobs, and vice versa.

We call this juggling.

In order to effectively juggle all of the different elements of our life, we have to PLAN.

If you want to learn more about how we juggle our hectic schedules with 2 kids, click here.

Why is this important?

Kim: Well, let me share a little bit of my life before 2017, when I started planning effectively.

In summary: I was a HOT MESS.

ot exaggerating.

My routine went something like this: wake up in the morning and try to figure out where I needed to be for the day. I didn’t think ahead and didn’t take into account any of my projects, presentations, or deadlines.

I am a physician, and at the time I worked in a pediatrics clinic. There were many days that I would be driving into work, or at the hospital visiting my mother, or I would decide to “work at home” for the day, and would get a frantic phone call from my clinic asking me where I was.

I didn’t know that I was scheduled to be in the clinic that day. This happened many times a month.

I was perpetually running on E and just trying to make it through each day.

There were several balls to juggle: the problem was, I was not being strategic about which balls to drop on any given day, and EVERYTHING was falling down.

I was tired, burned out, stressed out, and failing miserably.

I went on facebook one day and asked a group of other women physicians what they were doing to stay organized, and that was when I was introduced to the wonderful world of planners and planning.

Planners and planner styles

Kim: I actually consider myself “Planner Babe” (you can see a lot of the planner posts on Instagram) I work with 3 planners currently: a classic Happy Planner (my “catch-all” planner), a bullet journal (or bujo), and my Kate Spade agenda (wallet/business planner).

I go all out: stickers, washi tape, fancy pens.

When my planner is pretty, I am more likely to actually want to look at it, and that alone motivates me to stick to my plans.

I love decorating my planner!

Adrian: I am simple…I use a Passion Planner. No fancy decoration. No stickers. Just a planner and a pen. It doesn’t take much to begin crafting the life that you want.

Kim: No matter your style, these steps will work for you and allow you to have an amazingly productive month.

7 steps to effectively planning your month:

Step 1: PRE-PLAN

Prior to each month, I plan ahead for the coming month using my outlook calendar. Many people use google calendar or ical.

Others utilize their paper planner and sticky notes or a pencil that can be erased. Either one works well-it’s about what makes most sense for you.

The most important thing is that pre-planning is fluid and things change, so I don’t suggest writing in pen so that you can make changes. We both use outlook because appointment requests are sent to us on our job through outlook. There is nothing magical about Outlook, though. Use whatever digital system works for you.

Planners and coffee-two of my FAVES!

Step 2: REFLECTIONS

Ideally, this would occur right before your month begins. Before jumping into the next month, it is often helpful to review any successes and failures from the month prior.

Try not to beat yourself up, especially if you are beginning your planning journey.

Last month is over and done; you will accomplish nothing by feeling down or guilty about what you did not accomplish. Review the prior month OBJECTIVELY.

When reflecting, I typically ask myself these questions:

  1. Biggest wins last month
    1. Write down the one thing that you are most proud of from the last month. Maybe you exercised regularly, stuck to your diet, or completed all of the items on your task list. Celebrate yourself! It’s important to celebrate wins in order to keep yourself motivated.
  2. What was the biggest lesson that you learned? Who or what taught you that lesson?
    1. Get real with yourself. This is about keeping yourself honest and reflecting on the systems, processes, and habits that allowed you to be successful last month, as well as the things that did not work so well. Do you have any regrets? Was there anything that you did that worked well? Did you snooze too long every day? Did you get caught up in minutia and neglect your major goals? Were you disorganized? In order to make a change, you must first get real about what is working for you and what isn’t.
  3. List review
    1. If you had a to-do list last month, review any items that you completed and those haven’t finished. Remove any items that are no longer on your to-do list, either because they were completed or are no longer a priority. We will review this again when we begin the planning process for next month.
  4. Overall goals for the upcoming month
    1. Write a paragraph or two outlining what your overall goal for the upcoming month is. At the end of the month, when you are doing your reflections, what would be the “biggest win” for you? Everything else in your monthly plan should move you toward this goal and this goal only.
  5. Major events/deadlines/tasks for the upcoming month
    1. If you already know of any events or deadlines that you have coming up for the month, list these out so that they are readily on hand when you begin planning your month.
This caption says it all! Never forget your “why”!

STEP 3: FILL OUT APPOINTMENTS/EVENTS/ MEETINGS, ETC. FOR THE MONTH

Let’s get started! Flip to your monthly calendar and begin filling out the page with the appointments that you pre-planned. Do this first so that you can ascertain what your big projects/deadlines/tasks that need to be completed during the month.


If you have children, do not forget to include school holidays, field trips, or deadlines for school projects.  

STEP 4: BRAIN DUMP

Now that you have everything down on paper, it is time to brain dump!

Take a look at the schedule that you wrote, and brain dump all of the things. Think of every possible thing that you need to do, and put it on paper.

Do not try to prioritize or organize: Just get it out!

Chances are, you have a bunch of to-dos floating around in your head, and just getting them on to paper will help you to free up some bandwidth in your mind.

You’d be surprised at how just getting it on paper helps you to feel freer.

STEP 5: ORGANIZE YOUR TO-DO LIST

Have you ever had a long to-do list and just didn’t know where to begin? Having a to-do list without any structure or organization is nothing but an exercise in frustration. If you are anything like me you will simply stare at it without rhyme or reason, get overwhelmed, and end up doing NOTHING.

Trust me on this→ the key is to prioritize your list.

This is a pretty in-depth topic, and I plan on doing an entirely separate blog post on this.

For the time being, you want to separate your tasks into 4 quadrants/priorities:

  1. Urgent/important
  2. Important/not urgent
  3. Urgent/not important
  4. Not urgent/not important
Four Quadrants

This is based on Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”

Let’s define these terms (these are my definitions, not the official ones from Covey. Click here if you would like to learn the official definitions).

Urgent: urgent tasks are those that need to be done right away in order to avoid dire consequences.

Important: important tasks are those that help move you toward the life that you want.

Urgent/Important:

Start off with your urgent and important tasks. Look at your calendar for any major deadlines that are important for your family, career, business, etc. These are the tasks that you complete first. You probably procrastinated on these tasks, and now they MUST be done. (Hey, no judgement here! I am a master procrastinator myself). It is helpful for me to include deadlines here, as they help to hold me accountable. An example of an urgent and important task is the keynote address draft that I have due next week (*cough, cough). It’s urgent, as the deadline is approaching, and it is important, as it will further help to establish me as a public speaker, which definitely moves me closer to the life that I want.

Important/Not Urgent:

Ok, peeps. This quadrant is where the magic happens. It is where all of your hopes and dreams reside.

This quadrant is where the keynote address I am delivering in a few weeks resided until last week (*cough).

These are the things that move you toward the life you want.

In this quadrant is the e-book you want to write, the blog you want to start, the exercise routine you have written down but haven’t done, the meeting with your mentor that you want to set up, the course you want to sign up for.

Think about it: No one is beating you over the head to get these tasks done.

But, they are extremely important, as they move you closer to your goals.

These are things that you procrastinate on.

Most people in life procrastinate on these things, and, as a result, most people never truly fulfill their highest purpose.

You don’t want to be one of those people. Schedule these things in your planner, so that you can begin moving toward your dreams.

Helpful tip for Quadrant 2:

These are likely big, daunting tasks. If you see “write e-book” on your  quadrant 2 list, you will likely start getting palpitations every time you see it. It is much more helpful to break down your projects into small tasks.  

So, if your ultimate goal is to compose an e-book, one of the tasks in quadrant 2 for the month could be “the first draft of the book outline”. This is MUCH less daunting and much more doable.

You are more likely to actually complete these tasks when you break them up into bite-sized pieces.

Urgent/Not important:

This quadrant sucks up all of your time, because this is likely the quadrant that involves what other people want you to be doing. (Read that again)

These are the menial tasks, like email, that eat up so much of your time.

You can spend hours on email and feel like you are being productive, however, you are likely just busy and not actually productive.

It’s helpful to limit the amount of time you spend on these areas and to delegate these items if you are able.

Not urgent/not important:

Why are we even doing these things? Think about it. If they are not urgent and not important, what are they? Likely the things that distract you and prevent you from moving into quadrant 2! Think of: facebook, twitter, IG, etcetera, etcetera. Limit these activities to your break times.

STEP 6: TOP 3

WHEW! We are almost done, folks! We now have our tasks prioritized, we have our calendar set, and we are ready to move forward productively in our month! However, I also select my top three items for the month-the non-negotiables that, if I get them done, I will feel that the month was productive.

Here is a pro tip: Don’t just write your top 3 willy-nilly. Look at your quadrants and be strategic.


I like to select two items from quadrant 1 and one item from quadrant 2.

I include quadrant 2 because, again, this is where the magic happens, where my dreams lie, and getting a Q2 item done will make me feel super duper accomplished at the end of the month.

BONUS STEPS:

I select a bible verse/affirmation for the month, and add it to my calendar page. When in doubt, Philippians 4:13 always works well! It is very inspirational to flip to your calendar and see your favorite scripture or quote, as it can give you a boost on days that you lack motivation.

Our favorite bible verse!

YOU’RE DONE!!!

You have now effectively planned your month! Going through these steps should help to alleviate overwhelm and will help you move toward your goals and develop the life that you want.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: these are a lot of steps!

I will admit that it does take some time, especially once you first start. We recommend blocking off 1-2 hours when you first begin planning in order to complete all of the steps.

With time, you will notice it becomes easier and easier. Enjoy the process!

Kim: I love my planning time! It’s my me-time. Not only does it make me feel accomplished, but the process of planning just brings me a certain amount of peace. If I am home, I light a candle, play some music, and settle into my planning. Try it and let me know how it goes!

Please let us know if this guide has been helpful for you! Leave a comment below. If you go through the steps, we would LOVE to see your process! Shoot us an email: contact@productivepurpose.com and show us your planners, or tag @husbandwifedoctorlife on Instagram!

Go forth and be productive!


Peace and Love,

Kim and Adrian

MY PEACEFUL PRODUCTIVITY HACK: How I am overcoming procrastination and self-sabotage

Hey, Fam!

If you’ve been reading my blogs for awhile, then you know that my therapist is dope and SO necessary in my life!

Recently, she and I had a great session in which we discussed my struggles with procrastination, self-doubt, and self-sabotage.

This is something that we had been working on for some time, but I wanted to revisit the root of it.

I had certainly made a lot of progress over the past year or so, and this blog in and of itself is a testament to that.

However, I wanted to dig deeper and understand why I sometimes procrastinate and don’t maintain consistency in my progress.

I will delve into exactly what we discussed in a future blog post, however I have mentioned the gist of the incident that we discussed in the session in my first post on imposter syndrome and how it reared its ugly head during my intern year in residency.

Now, this experience is obviously something that is affecting me, given the fact that 9 years later I wrote a blog post about it and am still discussing it!

However, I had no idea the depths to which this negative encounter with a rude (and racist) attending had permeated my unconscious and was driving some of my self-sabotaging behaviors today.

I truly thought that I had gotten over this particular insult, but I had not fully.

I had absorbed the negative message of the encounter with this doctor. My therapist told me that this is because it happened during a very formative time in my career- my first few months of being a physician.

Of COURSE.

I was impressionable and at that point eager to please. The words that he spoke to me cut to my core.

I have been carrying them with me, deep in my unconscious mind.

I’ll tell you one thing: knowing that his words were still with me made me feel ill.

I needed to shake this loose. He does not deserve that much power over my life.

No one deserves that much power over my life.

I knew in that session that it would require some work to untangle my unconscious mind from his hurtful words, but I felt an incredible sense of urgency to make a change.

I needed a way to get this under control so that I can fully walk in my purpose.

I am a humble person, but I know that greatness is on the inside of me, because I am a child of God. Nothing and no one on this earth can take that away from me!

Ok, so my therapist (I told y’all she is DOPE!!!) gave me a suggestion that I have implemented. It has been extremely helpful in changing my behaviors.

You all know that I believe that you must change your behaviors before you can change your mindset.

Motivation is MOVEMENT-once you move and convince your mind that you are able to move, your thoughts will fall in line.

She thought that it might be helpful to have a visual representation of whether or not my actions are fulfilling my purpose or are playing into the negative mental model that I have created that fits into my imposter syndrome.

So, directly after leaving my appointment I went to my happy place- The Dollar Tree! (don’t judge me-the DT is LIFE!)

I purchased 2 jars and a package of decorative rocks.

I then labeled the jars as follows: Jar #1: Fulfilling my potential and my purpose; Jar #2: Not fulfilling my potential and my purpose.

At the end of each day I do a self- evaluation and place a rock in each jar. At the end of the week and month I hope to have more rocks in jar #1.

This. Changed. Everything.

I am not sure why, but there is something about having the jars on my shelf that really motivates me to stay on track and fulfill my goals for the day. (Plus, it’s so pretty!)

I tend to be internally motivated, meaning I like competing with myself.

If you wear an apple watch or activity tracker and MUST complete your steps for the day or you feel like a failure, then you are also likely internally motivated and this system could work for you!

Since implementing it, I have had bad days when I fall into my old trap of procrastination and self-sabotage, but I have noticed that there have been many more productive days in a given week than non-productive days.

This has been an absolute game changer for me!

I really love that this hack is simple, CHEAP (Dollar Tree for the win!) and effective.

What productivity tools or tricks have you implemented in your life? Do you think this one would work for you? Leave a comment below and let’s chat!

Peace and Love,

Kim