I've had several people ask me how to use monthly planners, so I thought I'd give a brief tutorial.
Monthly planners come in various forms: monthly wall calendars, monthly pages in your weekly or daily planner, or monthly planner books (like the Moleskine Monthly Notebook or Quo Vadis Monthly 4 planners).
Monthly planners are great for overviews of deadlines, bills due, birthdays, holidays and other things that are coming up in the future. They give you a big-picture view of what's going on over the next several weeks. Monthly calendars are also a great way to plan your entire year.
A question I get often is, what do you write into a monthly calendar that you would or would not necessarily write into a weekly or daily planner? Great question!
I found out the hard way that it was too much to write all appointments, events and plans into a monthly calendar as well as weekly and daily. I just couldn't keep up with that level of detail in all those places at once.
What works best for me is to write fixed dates into my monthly planner. Bills due, upcoming deadlines, holidays, birthdays, travel, etc. Also farther-off appointments like doctor and dentist appointments go into my monthly planner pages.
I don't look at my monthly planning pages every day. I really only use them when I need an overview of what's coming up.
Monthly calendars are also great for easily seeing patterns. Something I've done in the past is to record exercise on the daily spaces in my monthly calendars. I color code exercise (in green, for some reason) and just write C for cardio, S for strength, or A for abs. This gives me a very quick overview on how consistent I'm being with my exercise. A green letter every day means I'm doing great. Big gaps mean I need to get on it.
This technique can be used for anything that you'd like to do regularly: writing, reading, crafting, etc. Marking your activity in a monthly calendar can show you at a glance how consistent you're being with your activities.
Jerry Seinfeld famously uses his "don't break the chain" technique where he marks an X on each day he writes. Not wanting to break the chain is incentive for him to write each day. A monthly calendar (especially one that's on the wall in a place you see often) would be perfect for this.
What else do you use monthly calendars for?