If you love the start of the new year for its "clean slate" feeling, why not create a mini version by organizing your life at the start of each month? While it doesn't have quite the same ring, the first of the month, every month, is the perfect time to create a few goals for the four weeks ahead.
It also offers a moment for you to pause, assess, and even reset your life — especially if you don't like how things are going. "It's great to check in with yourself monthly so you can make sure you are on track in your life for reaching your goals, whatever those may be," author and life coach Jaya Jaya Myra tells Bustle. "Things can change quickly, for better or worse, so checking in helps to adjust where needed. To speed up or slow down, or even adjust course."
Even if things are going great, it's smart to get in the habit of planning ahead, creating a calendar, and checking things off your to-do list. Whether it's paying a bill, getting ready for an upcoming holiday, or organizing your apartment, this is the perfect time to get it all done. Read on for some more things you should do, each time "day one" rolls around.
1. Do A Food Inventory And Plan Ahead
If you're not a fan of your current culinary life, it's possible to change it by planning ahead. "Inventory the pantry at the beginning of the month to make sure you have staples, seasonal foods ... and foods that enable you to achieve ... healthy cooking or any other food-related goal you may have," professional organizer Stacey Agin Murray tells Bustle. Then add everything to a grocery list on your phone and get to shoppin'.
2. Edit Your Closet And Take Care Of Your Clothes
Don't be afraid, at the start of each month, to be brutally honest about what you actually wear. If you don't use it, donate it. And then show whatever's left some love. "Take inventory of what needs to be repaired, replaced, or taken to the cleaners," says professional organizer Rachel Rosenthal. "These are tasks that often get overlooked, but taking two minutes per month to maintain your wardrobe will keep your clothes in great condition."
3. Check Your Money Situation
In order to keep your finances under control, it's a good idea to create a budget at the start of every month. "A lack of organization in our life can actually cause us to overspend," says life coach Cheryl Smith. "We purchase multiples or pay late fees because we do not have our life in order. Use the first of the month to re-group." Using a budget app can help.
4. Schedule All Your Bills
Speaking of late fees, try to get on top of your bills, ASAP. "Spending 15 minutes once per month to run through the outstanding bills will free up your time — and stress — from having to remember various payment schedules," says Rosenthal. She suggests laying it all out in a spreadsheet and scheduling the payments, even if they're not quite due.
5. Meditate And Set Your Goals
Create a little practice where you sit down and acknowledge what you're grateful for, while also looking towards the month ahead. "What are you thankful for? What did this past month bring you? What would you like to manifest for this next month? Feeling grateful for life is a wonderful way to start off this upcoming month," says Kali Rogers, life coach and author of Conquering Your Quarter-Life Crisis. "You will attract more positive opportunities your way, because life rewards the grateful."
6. Let Go Of Your Old Worries
I know you can't magically forget the past, and nothing about a new month will make your problems go away. But you can use this time to reflect on what's got you down. "A new month is a reason to move forward, to leave behind the baggage and start anew," author and inspirational speaker Dr. Jodi Ashbrook tells Bustle. Sometimes, viewing the month as a clean slate really can help.
7. Take On A 30 Day Challenge
If you've been wanting to make a big change — eat healthier, sleep better, start running again, etc. — a new month is a great time to start. "A month is an ideal cadence for making changes, because 30 days is a timespan that's both short enough to grasp in a tangible and honest way, yet long enough to make a gratifying dent in any goal," says life coach Taylor Jacobson. So start on day one, commit to a month, and see where it takes you.
8. Create A List Of "Incompletes"
Is there anything you didn't get to last month? Anything really important? "The beginning of the month is the perfect time to review your to-do list and create a list of incomplete projects to finish during the month," Murray says. "Make an appointment with yourself to finish these tasks and reward yourself afterward for getting it done."
9. Sit Down With Your Planner
While your phone is obviously a great tool, plugging your schedule into a real live planner can make a big difference. "There is something tangible about having a planner that you can take out and look at and see your month play out before you," psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. "To sit down at the start of each month and plug in all the pieces of your personal and professional life helps you to feel organized, like you are on top of everything that needs to be done, and let's you have that constant visual reminder of the 'big picture.'"
10. Give Your Apartment A Once Over
You should probably tidy up your place a little each day, but the start of the month is a great time to give everything a true once over. "Cleaning your home should be considered as clearing your mind, and setting it ready to achieve new personal goals," says home organizing expert Jasmine Hobbs. "Decluttering here is essential, so before starting the main cleaning process, make sure you get rid of all the redundant stuff in your place. For sure you will feel way more cozy and peaceful at the end."
11. Get Rid Of Extra Papers
Paper is a huge factor in household clutter — mail, magazines, receipts, etc. So get it under control. "Using the beginning of the month to sort, organize, and file that stack of ... papers staring you down every day will give you a shot at organization for the month," Smith says. "Make quick decisions about the paper when you pick it up. Do this activity close to your filing system, a shredder, and a [recycling] can."
12. Give Your Body A Scan
It can be so easy to push your health aside, while surging forth through the months without so much as a checkup. That's why Myra suggests taking a moment to pause and weigh in on your health. Are you feeling OK? How's your sleep schedule? Do you need to make a dental appointment? Answer these questions, then follow through and make changes where necessary.
13. Rate All The Areas Of Your Life
Take a moment to assess the most important areas of your life to "see where you need to pull back or give more effort," says life-balancing coach Jaime Pfeffer. You might want to take a peak at things like your love life, friendships, spirituality, your work/life balance, and your hobbies while rating them on a scale of one to 10. If you're feeling a bit burnt out from spending too much time with friends, for example, then you'll know the adjustments you need to make.
14. Look Ahead To Birthdays And Holidays
Stand in front of you calendar or planner and map out all the things that are important for the month ahead, like birthdays, meetings, and all things season-specific. "For example, if you love going to the cider mill in the fall and it's October, look at your calendar and decide when a good day/time would be," Pfeffer says. "Then pencil it in just like you would any other appointment." It's so easy to let these little things slip by, but this simple routine can help.
15. Start Making It Happen
If you need to ask for a day off, buy a birthday present, or see your doctor, get ready to do it. "Take a glance at what's to come in the month ahead," says Rosenthal. "Run through the calendar to create your monthly to-do list ... to save yourself from scrambling last minute as the date approaches."
If you can do these things on day one, I promise you'll have an organized, successful, and extra fulfilling month.
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