monthly review process, and more updates!

February 14, 2018

I have been thinking a lot about planning lately, in part inspired by your amazing survey results (79 responses to date).  I will be choosing my first 3 planning makeover subjects by the end of the week — my apologies that it has taken so long, but I was overwhelmed by the sheer # (and depth!) of your responses.  If you wanted to respond but haven’t, the link is here.  

I had a busy physician (4 kids under 5 . . . woah!) ask me for templates in how I do my planning.  This is why I really want to capture my whole process in a book — I’m not saying I’ve discovered some earth-shattering One Way that works, but it’s a way.  I do think that the big keys are me are 1) controlling my inputs and 2) reviewing at regular intervals.  I’ll do a post on inputs later, and I’ve shared my weekly review process several times, but her email motivated me to share my monthly review list, too.
Here it is in its current form:

Yes, I actually turn to this page and look at it every month!  Without a set time to think about this things, they will bleed into my consciousness the rest of the time in a disorganized fashion, stressing me out and benefiting exactly no one.  (This statement is at the heart of why I plan daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly/yearly — MUST CORRAL ALL OF THE FLOATING THOUGHTS TO FULLY FOCUS/FEEL AT PEACE/NOT GO INSANE!).

In detail, these steps are:
1) Review last month’s to do items (called Next Actions here in David Allen/GTD style) and goals and see what needs to be migrated or abandoned
2) Reconcile YNAB (our budgeting program – Josh and I are good about entering transactions as they occur, but I take about 1.5 hours to audit it monthly (look at online statements and make sure everything got in there) and lay out the next month’s budget).
3) Discuss with Josh any big upcoming events (trips – family or work, a kid’s bday party that needs to be planned, etc)
4) Identify new month’s to do items and create new list
5) Set any habit goals for the month (based on quarterly goals and gestalt feeling of what I want to work on)
6) Finalize any needed childcare for month + ideally the month ahead (date nights, work coverages, etc)
Doing this monthly (and the weekly review every week, and a daily process daily) — ensures that I don’t let anything just sort of dissolve or get lost, and that I am moving forward in the areas that I want to.
In other news:
Podcast notes:  Lagliv joined me this week on the podcast (link takes you to her blog)!  I know many of you read her blog and were super excited to hear her voice 🙂  I have been reading her adventures for years now, and she truly is one of my favorite most inspiring voices in the blog world.  She has so much positivity, and exudes so much strength.  I really enjoyed talking to her and I hope that comes through!  
One thing she didn’t include was her planning process!  She shares her weekly meal/workout planning ritual in this post.  On that topic, I am amazed at her fitness pursuits.  
Workout notes:  I got through 5 weeks of the DIA challenge and then . . . quit to switch to Mommastrong.  Ha!  Honestly, I just got bored of the DIA workouts and (monotonous) breathing exercises.   I do think it might have helped a little with diastasis, but I definitely still have it.  
I have to say I am also dying to ramp up my running a little.  It really is my one true workout love.  That urge may die down as it continues to get hotter, though.  I also am still considering some Beachbody action (21 day fix?) but then again there might be enough strength work in Mommastrong to keep me busy for a while.  
Back-to-work prep notes:  I’m currently reading The Fifth Trimester and enjoying Lauren Smith Brody’s narrative voice quite a bit.  I am looking forward to her more beauty/fashion-focused chapters, because I feel like looking halfway decent at ‘re-entry’ will make me feel better.  I have a hair appointment next week (straightening! CANNOT WAIT, it’s been a year . . .) which should help. But I need to shop a bit, too, as my pre-baby wardrobe really isn’t going to work right now.  Probably 2 pairs of pants and a few shirts should do the trick.  

Oh, and the Apple Watch?  I decided against, at least for now.  I do have a Forerunner 235 that I wear and if I’m being honest with myself, it has MOST of what I need from a device already.  And I’m worried the watch itself will be distracting (which my Garmin isn’t) and don’t really neeeeeeeeed to be able to answer calls phone free.  I do think I’d be interested in a future iteration of the Apple Watch as they continue to improve some functionalities (music streaming, running stats/accuracy).  


  • Reply Leesa March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Hi Sarah, this was a minor detail, but do you have a recommended hair straightening salon service you use and recommend? My thick unruly waves makes me feel frumpy, but I have neither the time or desire to tame them into submission. I’ve tried embracing and working with the waves with curly cuts of all times, but I still struggle. I’m looking to try straightening as a better option.

  • Reply Chelsea March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Totally unrelated – I meant to comment on your post where you mention summer vacation plans – but if you haven’t, you should take a look at stopping in Olympia, WA when you are out west. We are also going to Portland, OR this summer (to visit my brother and his family) and we went out there 3 years ago for his wedding. It’s beautiful in August! Anyway, Olympia is a super cute town half way between Seattle and Portland, and as a bonus, it has an awesome Children’s Museum. It might make a good stop for you.

  • Reply Ashley March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Shu! I was listening to the Happier podcast (Gretchen Rubin) and they had an idea for reducing phone use/time. Turn the display to greyscale. I did this immediately and can totally tell that I’m using my phone less. Since I read a lot with the kindle app, I’m not overly concerned with minutes on the phone as a whole, but the greyscale doesn’t interfere with my reading, just with mindlessly looking at the phone and internet bumming.

    It takes two seconds!

  • Reply Andrea March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Loved the podcast! Will you please link the post you talked about in regards to how Lag Liv helped you to decide on child#3? Thanks!

  • Reply Emily March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I have been reading LagLiv for several years, after a friend recommended her blog to me because I was an incoming law student considering having a baby in law school (I ended up having two!). She’s awesome. Happy to hear one of my favorite bloggers interviewing another one of my favorites!

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  • Reply Mike March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I admire your ability to keep such an organized planner. I started reading about bullet journaling recently (because a friend recommended it) and my eyes glazed over within about 20 seconds. I usually make a checklist every day or two. If I manage to not lose it, I’ve found that such a list can be helpful.

  • Reply xykademiqz March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Shu, what’s your Myers-Briggs type? I ask because your planer posts fascinate me, but in an alien kind of way (I am allergic to planners and lists, but am very efficient in my profession nonetheless). I am obviously not a target demographic for planners but wonder if I’m really a freak or just not the right personality type. (I’m INTP-T, btw.)

  • Reply Carolyn March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I was so excited that Rebecca was going to be on the show. Her blog is 100% my favorite, always the first one I open when there’s a new post. If you asked me why, I’m not sure I could tell you. She just seems honest and sincere and it always comes through in her writing.

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