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Monthly Planning Tips For Introverts

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Monthly Planning Guide: How to Plan Well as an Introvert or Entrepreneur With Low Energy

Do you find it hard to stay on top of tasks each month?

Despite all of your good intentions, another month rolls by without the focus and progress you planned for 30 days ago…

Introverted or low energy therapists, coaches, creators, and small business owners can struggle with traditional planning methods that don't consider the individual and unique energy needs.

Since 2011 when my life changed, I have learned how to adapt and refine my working practices, and the way in which I manage my time and energy. The way that I now approach monthly planning has meant an improvement in both my mindset and progress.

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If you have any questions, reach out for a chat [email protected] or check out my other blogs

Why Monthly Planning Matters

Taking the time to plan each month will help you to maximise your time, energy and productivity.

Think of your planning like a pathway that will take you to the place where you want to be. For example, if you needed to get somewhere that you've never been before, and you need to be there by a specific time.

You would consider things like the route you will need to take, how long it may take you, when you need to leave, and whether you'll be walking / driving /using public transport etc.

Planning for your business is the same kind of thing. As tempting as it may be to have a BRILLIANT idea and just crack straight on with it; it probably won't be too long before you become so confused and overwhelmed, that you can't keep moving forward and give up!

Planning is where you can sit and map out your goals for the next 5 years, 12 months, quarter, month, week or for each new day!

With this map in your hands, you'll know the next steps that you need to take to move you closer to your goals.

Side note, it doesn't have to be boring! If you're groaning at the thought of sitting and filling in boring metrics down on a blank excel sheet – stop!

There are many, many tools available to you to make this process much easier and more exciting! Plus, if numbers aren't your thing – plan a way to outsource this as soon as you can (this was always one of my goals!).

When you find the “perfect-for-you” way of setting goals and planning, it will make everything else feel much easier.

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Photo by Nöel Puebla

Monthly Planning: Choosing a Focus

Having clarity on what you need to focus on is key. When you have too many things that you're juggling at once, it doesn't take much for all the balls to drop to the floor.

I totally get how difficult this can be – I've a very busy mind that wants to do everything right now… But, being clear on what you will focus on each month will help you to create smaller goals each week.

Learning how to set goals that feel good, that are realistic and that take into consideration each project, your current commitments, your energy and time, will help you stay focused and on track.

How To Set Clear Goals

Depending on how you plan your big goals (3,5, 1 year goals), your monthly goals will be your stepping stones that move you along the path.

A) You may prefer to have your big goal, for example, launch a new course within 12 months. And then looking at where you are right now, map out everything that you think will need to be achieved to get the course completed and marketed.

Or B), you may prefer to adopt “backwards” or “reverse” planning. This is now my favourite method of planning, even though I instinctively lean towards A), because it can feel easier in the moment to look forward.

But the reason why I prefer reverse planning is, it helps me set realistic goals, as well as feel clearer on what actually needs to get done. It makes it feel more real – a lot less like a dream where you can easily doubt yourself. I would often feel like I'm wetting my finger and putting it in the air without the structure for the way forward clear.

It felt more like guesswork compared to reverse planning. I find that when you think about the steps in reverse order, you get a much clearer picture of exactly what will need to be done by a certain date.

Practical Tips For Reverse Planning:

If you are planning for a specific project not a length of time, you can jump straight in. If you're focusing on January – December goals, then you can either revisit and adapt your goals if it's not January, prepare for the new year, or ignore the end / start of the year and focus on 12 months from now.

That may sound obvious – but as someone who likes to overthink – there's a chance I would just put it on the backburner if it was only May…

Steps:

  • Decide on your goal / outcome.
  • Choose the timeframe / deadline for your goal / outcome.
  • Give yourself a decent amount of time if you've not worked this way before.
  • Identify how you'll break down the time / project.
  • Start at the end. What do you need to achieve in those last 4 weeks leading up to the end date? If you are creating and then selling a course, the end would likely be you promoting it, having all funnels and upsells etc. in place.
  • Then, move backwards. Think about the previous month. What would you need to get done in the month before, so that you're ready to focus on those final steps?
  • Keep moving backwards until you get to today.
  • Review your plan. How realistic is it? Have you missed something? Have you made allowances for other things in your work / business / life? Have you given yourself time off?
  • Do a time audit if you feel you may be cutting it fine. This will help you look at where your time is actually spent each day.
  • Make any relevant adjustments. Can the deadline be more flexible? Do you need more time? Could you do it in less time? Are you sure that you are able to meet those monthly goals given your circumstances?
  • Once you have your monthly goals sorted, you can use these to break down the steps even further and focus in on your weekly goals. Quick tip – don't look too far ahead with this. Keep focused on the first month initially, because things can change! You may get more or less done, which would mean the following weeks wouldn't be accurate.

How to Prioritise Effectively

Prioritising your tasks will help you make the most out of the time that you have. I've included it in this monthly planning post, because it's good to see the bigger picture alongside daily strategy.

These tasks will vary depending on what you're currently focusing on, and the stage that you're at, so it's a good idea to revisit this each month.

If you're working towards a big goal that has been broken down into monthly goals, it's easier to prioritise the things that you need to work on.

Because of this, I find it helpful to not just focus on smaller goals in themselves. For example, “I will create and upload 4 new products to my store this month”. Why? Because it doesn't have a big enough reward for me to work towards.

However, if I focused on my 12 month goal for my digital product store, which is based on reaching a certain revenue, this feeds into my reason why I'm working towards it. Being aligned with my why means I'll be much more likely to prioritise the work, put in the energy, and get it done.

This is simply a mindset thing, but if those smaller goals feel like they're not really leading you anywhere, be clear on the bigger goal that you're working towards. This has prevented me from putting this particular task on the back burner for too long, keeping it front and center each week.

Prioritisation Tips & Techniques

There are a few different ways that you can do this. Firstly, with your monthly planning guiding you for the next 4 weeks, you can use the weekly planning sessions to identify your progress, review working practices, and map out the coming week.

Keep your weekly plans somewhere that you can easily refer to them, this will also help you to keep those goals high in your priorities list each day.

The Eisenhower Matrix.

The Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is a useful tool that you can use each day to keep your focus where it needs to be.

Evaluate each task depending on their importance and urgency, knowing what needs to get addressed straight away, and what can be pushed back or delegated to others.

With your bigger monthly and yearly goals in mind, you can use the matrix to identify the tasks that need your full attention right now.

The Impact Matrix.

You can also adapt this to consider your energy output. The Impact Matrix will allow you to identify the tasks that will have the greatest impact, with the lowest energy output.

This is great if you're also a low energy entrepreneur, or you manage health conditions. It's how I was able to create my “Minimum Effort Plan B” for the times that my body said no thank you!

The goal is to focus on the tasks that will give you the biggest impact / reward / progress, with the littlest amount of energy. These are the tasks that you would prioritise.

Although, it's important to note that not all high impact tasks will be low effort – so planning around these types of tasks will be crucial to maintain consistency.

Creating a balance with a good mix of lower and higher effort high impact tasks will support a balanced schedule.

The ABCDE Method

The ABCDE method is another powerful prioritising tool. Its simplicity is what makes it easy to adapt into your daily working schedule.

To prioritise, you split tasks into:

  • A – The Most Important, Highest Priority Tasks. These tasks absolutely need to be addressed now. If these aren't done, there may be serious consequences. For example, you have a call with a client that is booked in for today. You may have more than one of these in a day, so you can prioritise these (A1, A2 etc.), before moving on to the B Tasks.
  • B – Less Important Tasks. These are less important than A Tasks, but they are still tasks that you should be doing. They aren't as urgent, and the consequences of not doing them right now aren't as serious as the A Tasks. But, you shouldn't move to B Tasks if you still have A Tasks outstanding.
  • C – Nice to Do Tasks. These tasks will not have any consequences if you do not do them right now / today.
  • D – Tasks to Delegate. If you're in a position to do this, these are the tasks that you can delegate. For example, if you work with a VA, you can delegate writing emails to them, allowing you to focus on tasks A,B,C.
  • E – Tasks You Can Eliminate. These tasks are probably unrelated, or not worth the time and energy it will take to complete them. Eliminating them will only have a positive consequence for you.

How might this look in reality?

As a blogger, coach, therapist and digital product creator, there are always a wide range of tasks that need doing.

If I only ever focused on one aspect of my work, for example content creation, or staying on top of checking and responding to emails, I would be ignoring the other tasks that I need to complete in order to maintain my overall businesses.

The creation of products is actually only a relatively small task in relation to all of the work that I need to do. There are multiple other steps involved, including:

  • Creating mock ups
  • Uploading into stores
  • Creating marketing material
  • Social media content to promote products
  • Landing pages / sales pages
  • Funnels and upsells including email sequences

And this is only one part of my business! I have weekly calls with clients, and I also support students each week, as well as write blogs, do admin and (what feels like) so much more!

When you do your monthly planning, it's important to take all of these things into account. Using the most efficient prioritising method will help you with this.

Time & Task Blocking

Time blocking is another method that I love to use when monthly planning and filling in my calendar.

Using monthly, or 4 weekly calendar print outs, I map out where my time needs to be spent so that I'm on top of my goals. If you manage low or fluctuating energy levels, this is a handy way of splitting the tasks that require more energy across the week.

Practical Tips for Monthly Planning

  • Add in the non-negotiables into your calendar. These may include scheduled meetings, personal commitments and appointments.
  • Look at your monthly goals, and using one of the methods previously discussed, identify the higher and most important tasks, and add them into your calendar. Remember to not overstretch yourself as you plan these in. Spread them out as much as possible so that you have time to recharge in between.
  • Add in rest breaks, time off, hobbies, self care activities.
  • Then you can focus on adding in the rest of your monthly tasks, keeping your focus on your bigger goals.
  • If you're currently experiencing low energy, adapt this as you need. Anything that is non-urgent, leave! If you find yourself with more energy at different points in the week / month, you can add them in. But, bear minimum means just that – you're only doing what you absolutely have to. If this means extending your end goal date, then so be it!

Monthly Planning & Reflection

Finally, let's talk about the importance of monthly reflection and consistent reviewing of your goals and your progress.

Monthly reflection enables you to pause, look back, and learn from the past month's experiences – good, bad and inbetween!

When you review and reflect each month, you can acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, as well as identify any areas for improvement.

As a therapist, the process of frequently reflecting increased my self awareness enormously, as well as my understanding of areas where I needed to focus my attention on as I was training.

This carried on into my working practices, including my monthly planning sessions. Because of this, I feel comfortable with openly reviewing where I am in relation to my progress towards goals. It's done in a compassionate way, helping me to see where change is needed.

Practical Reflection Tips

  • Set aside time each month in your planning sessions to review the past month. Also plan this for your weekly, and possibly daily planning time.
  • Be objective with this to establish things like progress made, time and energy output, challenges, how you overcame difficulties, lessons, and of course, accomplishments and wins.
  • Focus as well on the more subjective experiences of the month. Consider how it felt to work towards the goals, things you struggled to understand, times you felt overwhelmed, times you felt confident, things that you enjoyed etc.
  • Progress Milestones. Look at how much progress you were able to make this month. Did you achieve the goals that you set? If not, why was this? Were the goals realistic? Did something happen to slow you down? Did you achieve more than you thought?
  • Link your progress with the bigger goals. Where does this put you now? Are you on track? Do you need to make any amendments to the timeline?
  • Review your goals: Are your original goals still relevant? Do you need to pivot or change direction? How could you do this the following month?

Use these opportunities during your monthly planning for reflection to improve both your work / life balance, as well as your focus and direction.

The awareness that comes with reviewing each month will enable you to continuously grow and develop both personally and professionally.

Tools I Use

My favourite tools that supports my monthly planning and daily productivity are:

Sunsama – A brilliant task management that is perfect for busy and neurodiverse minds who easily find themselves overwhelmed and distracted. grab a free 2 week trial and free month!

Time Audit – Gain a clear understanding of exactly where your time and your energy is spent. Highly recommend doing this if you're planning to focus on increased productivity.

Tailwind – Fantastic scheduling tool. Great for Pinterest and repurposing across different social media platforms.

RightBlogger – Great AI tool for bloggers. Support with content ideas, SEO & more.

Canva Pro – Upgrade your content design with Canva Pro. Explore the enhanced features available in Pro. Grab your free trial here!

Etsy – Are you ready to create your own online store? Etsy is a brilliant shopping platform that's used by millions. Setting up your store is simple, and when you sign up with this link we both get 40 free listings!

PIPs – Passive Income Pathways by the fantastic Sadie Smilie. Learn how to build a successful blog. highly recommend this membership!

Final Thoughts

Monthly planning is a vital part of your business growth. When you commit to a monthly planning strategy, you're giving yourself the best opportunity to successfully reach your goals.

Reviewing your goals and plans each month means that you can make any changes that you need to along the way. Being flexible and adapting in the moment, will not only energise and motivate you, but it will ensure that you continue working towards the goals that you truly want.

As I always say, there isn't an absolute solution for everyone. We all learn, process and work differently. Quite often it's trial and error, but monthly planning is something that I think everyone should do. How you do it matters a little less, but without clarity, it's likely you'll find the process much more difficult.

I would love to hear your monthly planning rituals, and how you prefer to map out your monthly goals. Please share below, or reach out to me [email protected]

If this post helped or you enjoyed reading it, please share one of the images below as it really helps my blog – Thank You!

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Meet Lynsey

Lynsey Wall, Coach & Mentor at Coach Writes. About me - A headshot of Lynsey smiling. Wearing a black t-shirt, blue framed glasses. Office walls behind her.

Hey there! I'm Lynsey, a coach, counsellor, and mentor for low energy, introverted or low confident female coaches & small business owners. With over 5 years’ experience of running businesses, and over a decade as a tutor and trainer, I've learned the value of effective time management that energises you through working with your energy.

I've lived with chronic illness – ME/CFS since 2011 and since then I re-trained as a counsellor, and achieved a distinction for my MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice; all while running 4 businesses! I want that for you as well & it is possible with the right support and pathway to success.

Improving your mindset, finding acceptance and developing a solution-focused approach to achieving your goals is my passion. Blending mental health support where needed, as well as a supportive space and methods to manage your work more effectively.

If you'd like to know more about working with me, you can email [email protected] or find me on socials (links in the menu)

Have you seen my online store Your Coach Tools? Find DFY templates & more!

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