My Current Monthly Journal Setup

Following up on yesterday’s post, I want to talk a little bit about my monthly journal setup. This tends to be minimalist. It’s meant to be an at-a-glance overview of what’s going to happen and, later on, what has happened during the course of the month. Rather than have a lot of detail, it serves as a mini-index to guide me toward detail.

I use a two-page spread. The left-hand page is divided into two columns. In one column I write out a quick calendar on the first few lines. Because my work week is Sunday through Thursday, across the top I write S M T W T F S. Beneath that, I number the days, one line per week. Pretty standard.

1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

I used to number the rest of the column so I could write in events. What inevitably happened was that I’d have 7 things all on one day, then two weeks’ worth of blank space. Now I just write the date and the event. “6 Jonas birthday” or “30 Good Friday”. It doesn’t matter if they’re in order, because I will add things as they come up, and they’ll all get transferred to weekly spreads eventually.

The other column on that page is my focus column. These are the projects that I want to make progress on or complete this month. Each project gets a page in the back of the journal with specific tasks and deadlines, but none of that goes here. I record the page number, so I can refer to it. This is simply a reminder to concentrate on these few things, and not get sucked into other projects or distractions. If I complete something early, or something gets moved around, I can add more projects to the focus column.

At the bottom of the focus column, working up, are trackers that I need to remember to update. For large projects or ongoing things, each tracker might have its own page in the back of the journal. Other things will have trackers on the weekly spreads, especially if they’re short term. All I record here is the shorthand name of the tracker and the page number.

The left-hand page gets reviewed every week as I’m setting up the next weekly spread. This helps me remember deadlines and reminds me of what I need to focus on and track. The point of the page is to inform the weekly spreads.

On the opposite page, draw a horizontal line the divides it in half. On the top I will record positives. Projects that are completed, epiphanies that I experiences, what worked, changes I made that I want to keep, and so on. On the bottom, I will record things that didn’t go well. These might be changes to be made in how I track things, what didn’t work and why, or projects that I have to contemplate dropping. I write things down here throughout the month, and come back to it at the end of the month for review.

Tomorrow I’ll get more into the weekly spreads. If you have any comments or suggestions for monthly spreads, or would like to talk about how you set up your own monthly journal spread, leave a comment below!

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