Updated: Jul 22, 2019
If you couldn’t tell based on how infatuated I am with Sunday Resets, I love a good clean slate. Life likes to endlessly throw more and more stuff at us, and without occasionally taking time to reset back to zero, it can get pretty overwhelming.
Sunday Resets are like a morning routine but for your week. Your morning routine sets you up for a productive and enjoyable day. Your Sunday Reset sets you up for a productive and enjoyable week. So it would make sense to reset for the new month, right? Right.
We want to have smooth, balanced, organized, productive months and prevent things from getting too out of hand. That’s our Why when it comes to putting effort into a monthly reset.
So now that we’ve got our Why, here’s how I reset my life for a new month:
1. Redo the whiteboard calendar.
We all know that I looooove calendar blocking, which is how I plan out my day-to-day life. Each night as part of my evening routine, I plan out my schedule for tomorrow, typically in half-hour chunks. But it can be nice to see the month at a glance, which is why I also maintain a whiteboard calendar.
It’s large and hangs near our front door so it’s easy to check quickly. The whiteboard calendar holds the big events: birthdays, trips, holidays, and any changes to Bennett’s work schedule. This calendar tells me what my month is going to look like overall. Is it busy? Lots of travel? Or am I spending most of the month at home with my nose in my laptop?
2. Reset the budget.
Bennett and I maintain a fairly simple budget each month so that we know where our money is going and so we don’t spend more than we can afford. Our budget is on a shared list on Anylist with different categories of spending on it.
Most of the things that we pay for are the same each month (rent, car insurance, Spotify, etc.), so those don’t change, but four things—food, gas, work expenses, and the always fun “everything else” category—change month to month. On the first of the month, I add up the totals from these categories in the previous month and make a note of the sum, and then reset each category back to $0. Then, as we make purchases throughout the month, the money we spend is added to its respective category.
Another way to do this that we've used before is to set a monthly spending limit for each category, and on the first of the month, calculate how much was left over from the previous month, move that much money to savings, and reset each category to it's spending limit. Then, each time a purchase is made, rather than adding that to the total spent, you just subtract it from the limit. Both systems work well, it just depends on your preference.
3. Track monthly accomplishments
Something that I’m trying out for the first time this month is tracking my accomplishments. I sometimes find myself feeling disappointed day to day because I don’t feel like I’ve done as much work as I wanted to, but I suspect that if I look back over what I’ve accomplished each month, it’ll be much more than I realize.
To do this, I’ve created a page in my bullet journal that lists each week, broken up by day. At the end of each day, I’ll record what I’ve done that day so that I can look back at the end of the month and see how much I’ve accomplished. Looking back at the things you’ve done is motivating and can help you keep moving forward when you feel you aren’t doing as much as you’d like to.
4. Create new bullet journal spreads.
Speaking of the bullet journal, as I’d posted last month, I’m giving it another shot. So far, this attempt is going much better than the first try because I'm creating spreads as I find the need for them, rather than going out looking for random spreads that don't improve my life. I also have a Daily on my Habitica that reminds me to fill it in each night, so I’ve been keeping up with it consistently.
The two spreads that I used this past month have proven to be a worthwhile use of my time, so I’ll be recreating them for this coming month. Creating new bullet journal spreads is also a fairly new addition to my monthly reset, obviously, but I know this isn’t anything new for a lot of people.
My three spreads this month will be the skincare tracker and workout tracker from last month, as well as the new monthly accomplishments spread.
Once I have my bullet journaling routine solidified a bit more, I’ll write an update post about it. To be sure you don’t miss that when it comes out, get on my email list! I send out a motivational email every Monday that includes a list of all the posts that have come out in the last week.
Make It Work For You
As with everything else I write about, what works for me may not work for you. Take the inspiration that I’ve given you and use it to create a monthly reset that suits your own life.
When it comes to choosing things to add to your monthly reset, think along the lines of what would make your days more organized. Sunday resets are good for things that you can do ahead of time, like meal prepping and laundry, but there aren’t too many things that you can do a month in advance. Rather, use your reset to plan and organize so that your month flows more smoothly.
What could you include in your reset?
1. Goal setting
The first day of each month is prime time for goal setting. If you don’t yet have a regular time to check in
on your goals and set new ones, add it to your monthly reset. Personally, I check in on my goals every Monday as part of my weekly review, but that may be unnecessarily often for many people.
Writing down and setting goals is an essential step if you want to create change in your life, but it doesn’t so much matter when you do it, just that you do it, and that you do it regularly. But if you’re new to it all, once a month is a great starting point.
Yes, many chores need to be done more often than once a month, but there are some that can be done monthly, like washing that often-ignored comforter on your bed or sorting through the food in your fridge to make sure nothing has gone bad or been forgotten about.
"Something that can be done at any time is often done at no time." -Gretchen Rubin
I’ve found (as have many other people) that assigning chores a specific day to be done makes sure that they actually get taken care of. I know that I do a lot of my cleaning on Sundays as part of my Sunday reset, and this keeps me from pushing things off just because they don’t have a due date. The same could go for your monthly reset—anything that you’ve been putting off is assigned the first of the month as its recurring due date so that it can’t be pushed back any longer.
3. Kick off a 30-day challenge.
This month, I’m taking on a mindful eating challenge and eating all of my meals at a table for the whole month of July. Here is the blog post where I wrote about exactly what I’m doing and why, if you’d like to join me on that challenge.
This comes after the success of my #5amwakeupchallenge that I did a couple of months ago. That challenge is still positively impacting my life. It was difficult, but I’m glad I did it, and I’m excited for July’s challenge.
Challenges are a motivating way to take on something new, push your limits a little, and experiment with new ideas that may improve your life, and the first day of a new month is an ideal time to start a challenge.
If you’d like to do a monthly challenge, set out your rules and your Why when you reset for the month so that you have a clear idea of what’s happening and why. While you’re at it, one of my favorite tips for success is to take a little time to plan ahead for issues that may arise. It’s impossible to plan for every scenario, but if you’ve attempted something similar before and slipped up, creating a plan to carry you through specific roadblocks can be immensely helpful when it comes to finishing what you start.
4. Consider what you’re trying to accomplish with your reset.
It’s often helpful to start from our end goal and work backward when we’re trying to determine our direction. In an ideal world, what would you get out of your reset?
If you want your reset to help you plan, try planning out meals and shopping lists for the month, contacting any friends you’d like to hang out with to iron out those details, and calendar blocking any difficult, travel-filled, or busy days ahead of time.
If you want your reset to help you clean, plan that day as your day to donate that bag of clothes that sits in your trunk for weeks, deep clean anything that needs to be deep cleaned, and do one of those weird chores that everyone forgets about, like dusting the top of the fan blades or cleaning out the dishwasher drain.
If you want your reset to help you organize, use that time to get your inbox to zero, sort through any papers or other items that have come into your home in the last month and discard any that you don’t need, and commit to tackling one of those “problem spots” in your house—like the junk drawer or that weird closet where you put things that you aren’t sure how to deal with.
If you want your reset to help you live a healthy life, try researching healthy meals for the month, planning out your workouts ahead of time, and choosing two or three active activities to participate in throughout the month, like hiking, rock climbing, swimming, kayaking, or even just going for a walk. Staying active doesn’t have to be complicated.
If you’re not sure what you’re trying to accomplish, doing a life audit is quite helpful in creating both long- and short-term goals, and those short-term goals should give you somewhere to start.
Some Final Thoughts
When you’re first getting started with a new routine like this, there are a few issues that people often run into. One is taking on too much too soon, and another is creating a big list of things to do, but never actually doing them, often because we forget or don’t have the motivation when the day comes.
As you can see, my monthly reset has only four steps. I’ve been doing the first two for nearly a year, and the second two are recent additions. I know that I can consistently stick with the first two, and all together, I can do all four in well under an hour. Even though I’ve been doing this for a while, I keep my routine small.
If you’re new to the monthly reset thing, start small. Your routine doesn’t have to be elaborate or time-consuming to be effective. In fact, as my routine shows, sometimes an hour of work in advance can make a big difference throughout the month. The simpler your reset is, the easier it will be to stick with. Start with just one or two steps, and thoughtfully add in more only as you need them.
As for forgetting or finding motivation, make a checklist! I’ve been using Habitica recently and it’s quite useful for those things that I always forget to do, like watering my plants. Creating Dailies on Habitica for my Sunday resets and monthly resets makes it easy to check off the boxes when the day comes. I don’t have to remember what was on my to do list, and checking off the boxes rewards me with gold which is just the little boost of motivation that I need.
If Habitica and checklists aren’t your thing, you could try gamifying your monthly reset to mix it up and make the work a little more enjoyable. And, as always, knowing why you’re doing a monthly reset helps you push through when you’d rather just stay on the couch.
If you’re going to give this monthly reset thing a try, let me know in a comment what your plans are! I’d love to hear your plans and ideas, and we can all help each other out by sharing our thoughts.