What Are You Doing Next Month?

It’s an oddly specific question, isn’t it? It’s not, “What have you got coming up?” or “What are you doing the rest of the year?” Just, “Next month, what’s on the docket?” It can be downright scary.

When you think about it on a month-to-month basis, perhaps you’ll realize you’re not doing enough — or at least not enough of the things that matter. Sometimes, you may count the events, deadlines, and deliverables, and go, “Damn, this one’s gonna be busy! I need to increase the pace.”

A few years ago, I decided to structure my notes by time frame. I added four folders: one with my ultimate stretch goals and three for anything related to my annual, monthly, and weekly focus areas. Over half a decade later, only the annual goals really stuck. Week-to-week, too many unexpected things kept coming up, and month-to-month planning just didn’t feel necessary.

When I returned to Four Minute Books late last year, however, my girlfriend inspired me to set up a Trello board with monthly columns and milestones. For a 7-year-old business with fully developed arms and legs, it might have been the most useful change I’ve made all year.

I filled in whatever I knew would be needed every month for the whole year. Then, I added some more placeholders which I could later populate with goals wherever I knew work was needed but not exactly what kind. “What are you doing next month?” I kept answering the question, over and over again.

I made some mistakes, of course, but when I glanced at the board once two thirds of the year were over, I was surprised: “Wow! Those are a lot of green boxes.” Simply putting my repetitive tasks on a monthly rotation not just ensured I didn’t miss any of them. For the first time, it also gave me a sense of appreciation for how much I’m getting done — and how that work compounds over time.

If you ask me now, I can tell you exactly what I’m doing next month. I’ll be writing 4-5 book summaries, publishing 4-5 Youtube videos, and I’ll be writing a newsletter for every Saturday. I’ll write weekly promo emails, two “Best of the Blog” editions, and I’ll work on some new content too. Will it always be this way? Probably not. But as long as thinking month-to-month brings me closer to my goals, I’ll keep doing it.

A month is not long enough to derail your entire year if you waste it, and it’s also not short enough to be derailed by a single event, which can easily happen to any given week. It might not be the best time frame for you to plan your life in and around, but if you haven’t given it an honest effort, it sure is worth a try.

So, what are you doing next month?