Planning out the month ahead

Because charts bring order to chaos. And hand-drawn charts add a hint of perilous vulnerability. 

I’m a recent convert to bullet journalling. If you’re not aware of it already and you’re a lover of a notebooks then be sure to take a look at this video.

Every month, I draw out charts for the month ahead – a mini goal-setting exercise with a pseudo-graph to capture how my mood fluctuates throughout a four-week period.

At the end of the month I look back on it all and see what’s occurred and what hasn’t. I confess I find the process fun. 

Have May on me

I’ve included May’s blank charts in this post both as JPGs and a PDF download (see bottom of post) in case you want to use them. If you do, I’d be interested in your feedback (please leave in the comments section below). 

How to use the charts

A word about the quality of these: they’re hand-drawn because I like hand-drawn stuff. They’re prototypes. In the future I’m thinking I’d charge for them. But May you can have for free. 

Tracking mood isn’t done because there’s a perceived problem that needs correcting. Instead, its just an opportunity to track what’s going on. Sometimes important things get overlooked in the everyday. 

The mood chart (above) doubles up as a productivity chart too. In fact, you can plot as many lines as you want on it (just use a different colour for whatever it is you want to plot).

For mood, I monitor what my mood is as a score out of ten, three times a day (the process is not as onerous as it sounds – just programme your phone to remind you). I join the dots up at the end of each day – I derive an inordinate amount of joy doing this. Do the same for any other ‘thing’ you want to monitor each month. Take a look at what I’ve tracked for April (NB there were some low-points).

You need to complete the Goals, Needs, and Intent page (above) at the beginning of the month. It’s not really a to-do list, more an list of aspirations. I usually fill it in and then forget about it for the month. At the end of the month, I take a look at it to see how I’ve done. I’m normally surprised by the extent of my own productivity.

How you fill the chart in is down to you. But, if you’re looking for pointers, here’s how I do it: I categorise the areas of my professional and personal life in eight sections (for me that means coaching, blogging, video, podcast, training, home stuff, reading, pals).

In the columns underneath I write the specific goals I want to complete by the end of the month in relation to each subject. I try to keep each reference to no more than three words (this stops me from being verbose).

In the row underneath, I decide on one thing I need in order to complete on the corresponding goal above. Underneath that, one word for the intent I need to adopt (this is usually the most difficult part of the process – intent can be a little more difficult to determine).

Happy planning, etc. 

Download a prototype PDF for the monthly tracker. Please share any feedback you’d like to share to improve the usability of the chart in the comments field below.

Jon Jacob is an ICF accredited leadership coach, mentor and team facilitator. Find out more about his professional background on LinkedIn.

Email him at or call him on 07768 864655.

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