How to plan without failing: monthly logs

How to Plan without Failing to Execute

How to Plan without Failing to Execute

As a lover of planning I always have some notebooks lying around and scribble down some thoughts here & there.

But most of the time it would end up getting lost physically or lost in between all other to-do lists.

Before I would make on and on running to-do lists. Everything I could think of would end up on the list and only the easier and quicker to fulfill tasks would get done. The more tough ones would stay hidden unchecked in between the tasks that were completed.

Conclusion: smaller tasks get done, but the larger ones that most of the time contribute to reaching certain goals would never get done. And that meant that those goals (that wander around in my head) would never be accomplished.

But recently I saw the light, I found a planning system that really works for me and I’d love to share it with you!

The planning system I use is based upon the bullet journal created by Ryder Carroll. The basics of the system are explained in this video. This is a very physical way of planning and I really believe it helps to take a pen and write down what you want to do or think about. That way it is more likely to actually happen.

I don’t use a separate notebook for this, but I’ve implemented it in my planner. I use the weekly planner for appointments, work and other stuff, just because I love my planner too much and I love decorating my weeks with washi tape and stickers. But for the real planning (both long- and short term) I apply the bullet journaling method.

How to plan without failing: monthly logs

It starts with setting up your month, this is called your Monthly Log. On one page you write all the days of the month underneath each other and you fill in the days you have appointments or someone’s birthday for example. On the next page you make space for a to-do list and your goals for that month.

Setting goals each month really helps me focus: What do I want to work on this month? What do I want to accomplish?

And from those goals I start filling up my to-do list. What small steps do I need to make to accomplish these goals. Write it all down, each teeny tiny step you can think of.

Plan without failing: daily logs

Next we go to a new page to start creating our Daily Logs. This is nothing more than a task list of that day. Add appointments you have, so you have an overview of the day and how much time you have left for other tasks. Then look at your Monthly to-do list and pull from there tasks that fit in the time you have.

A very important rule to accomplish effective planning is to not add too many tasks to your daily log. If you have a free day, try to pick 3-5 tasks that easily fit into that day. That way you have some spare time if tasks happen to take longer than thought. And if you have some time left, you can add another task to that day. This way your day won’t feel crammed with to-do’s. It always feels better to check off all tasks and maybe even be able to do more, than having a half finished list that needs to be continued tomorrow…

Besides this monthly and daily planning, bullet journaling also leaves space for list making. For example I have a list of books I want to read and series I have watched. A list for goals and tasks for the blog and webshop and a list with DIY ideas I want to make someday. A list with fun things to remember and one for my bucket list.

Other lists you could make are a gratitude journal, where you write down every day something you enjoyed or that made you happy and smile. Or make a habit tracker: make a table for each day of the month and habits you want to track (like drinking enough water, doing a short workout every day, reading your Bible or taking time to play with your kids). Or make lists of things you dream about, home improvement plans or brainstorm on your ideal holiday. The possibilities are endless.


Besides the physical planner, I have to admit I also have some digital planning tools.

I use Evernote for larger lists I use for my blog. For example I have a list with great quotes that I use to share on Twitter. Evernote is an app and program you can use on your phone, tablet or PC and it all synchronizes to make all your lists up-to-date in all places.

And on my phone I have an app (To-Do List Widget) where I jot down all things that come to mind when I’m out and about. And when I get home I transfer them to my paper planner, so that I have everything in one place again.

What is your favourite way of planning? What works for you? Share your tips and ideas in the comments. Also if you have questions, feel free to ask them down here.


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