You may remember that I very briefly mentioned the idea of setting up one of my A5 filofaxes as a blog planner. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a diary format that was quite right. A month to view seemed like the best format, because I loved the idea of seeing my whole month at a glance. I can see what’s scheduled, which types of posts I need more of and any blank periods that need posts. On the other hand, I wanted some space for a to do list to keep me focused, and something that looked at least a little interesting too. That’s not so much to ask right? (Apparently, it is).
Eventually, I decided to try making my own format, and I think I’ve succeeded (sort of!). I edited the Philofaxy Enhanced Time Management Diary insert to fit my needs, and combined it with the Month to view template, also from Philofaxy.
Here is a blank print out of my template. The original file is colour, I just printed my example in black and white to show you how it looks in greyscale if you’d rather save ink.
So, you can see that on the right hand side we have a month to a page – you probably don’t need any explanation for that, but you might wonder what is going on on the left, so let’s explain in a bit more detail.
The first section is called The Big Five, and is for five key goals/areas of focus each month. Why the big five? Just because I’m a zoologist and animal lover and try to squeeze in animals wherever I can! (And it feels more fun than something like Urgent Tasks).
The little bubbles were inspired by this template from The Printable CEO, which used bubbles as units of time. The idea was to fill them in while you were working, both to keep focused and see how much time you really spent on a project. The idea here is to pick 5 goals, and use the bubbles to keep track of your progress, because it can keep easy to lose track over a time period like a month. The idea is that instead of having 3 days focused on leaving comments and then forgetting, the bubbles serve as a visible reminder of your goal. I’ll show you a few examples in my filled in template below!
The next section is for ideas (which I’ve left mostly blank in my filled in template!). This is for those moments of inspiration or brainstorming, just to keep your mind mulling over possibilities and keep track of any brain waves you had.
The third section is for your to do list, which is pretty straightforward I would hope!
In the stats section I’ve included:
- Email followers
- RSS Subscribers
- Views per month
- Visitors per month.
There’s also a blank line for anything else you wanted to track.
The very final section is for those things you need to bear in mind about next month, whether that’s an exam, an upcoming bill, a review due or a holiday.
So, now you know what all the sections are for, let’s see them in action!
In this example, I’ve included a range of different things, to show how you can use your big five in completely different ways:
- Commenting on other blogs
Each bubble might represent 1 comment, more than one comment or a day where you left comments.
- An essay or other project
For essays, I always found that while reading around a subject before you start, it can feel like you’re not making much progress. Filling in the bubbles for every 15 minutes you spend researching or writing (or half an hour if it’s a big project) you can see your efforts adding up.
- Weight loss
Just to show that you can focus on something completely different and still use the bubbles. In this example I’ve used each bubble to represent a half a pound of weight loss. I’ve also circled a ‘target’ bubble, because for something like weight loss it might not be appropriate to fill all the bubbles, and I still want a visible marker of completion!
- Dissertation/Large essay etc
For those occasions when you need to stop researching and actually get on with the work, using each bubble to represent a number of words (in this case 100) is an easy way to face how much you’re really getting done – or not getting done!
- No spend days
If you’re trying to cut down on spending, tracking no spend days can be a challenging but fun way to try. In this example, each bubble represents 1 day, so if you managed to fill them all you’d have managed 20 days without spending!
The ideas, to do and next month sections are pretty obvious, so I won’t go into details about those.
In the stats section, because the boxes are quite large, I would track this month as well as including last months in brackets, just to see at a glance if the numbers were changing. You could alternatively use the wide box to track social media sites not already mentioned on the list.
This is my month to a page. It’s pretty simple – scheduled or published posts get put on here, with different coloured headers depending on the topic area, so I can see which types of posts I need more of.
I’ve gone around the most popular post from each week in pale blue, and my most popular post all month also has the star added so I can’t miss it!
Hopefully this template might be of use to you because I personally am loving it!
Please feel free to download, use, photograph, or share, but please make sure to link back, as it did take me a fair amount of time to edit the files!
(If for some reason the preview looks blank, try downloading it as that seems to still work)
In case you’re still wondering about those Big Five bubbles, here’s a few more ideas of things you could track (and how I would use the bubbles):
- Saving, (£x)
- Replying to comments (days I was caught up or x comments replied to)
- Revision (time spent revising or lectures/chapters revised)
- Number of reviews / other types of posts
- Exercise (x number of minutes)
- Dieting (days below target calories)
- Giving up smoking/other habit (days without …)