Want to feel more organized? Use the first of the month to do these 11 things and stay on track with your life.
Because life and all it entails can often be overwhelming, it can be easy to drop balls. You might forget to pay a bill, forget a birthday, or slack on household chores that only need to be done occasionally but still have to be done.
A few years ago, I started using the first of every month to get a handful of things done, and it has made my life run so much more smoothly. Don’t get me wrong, I still drop balls and get overwhelmed, but the important stuff gets done.
11 things to do on the first of every month
1. Pay or schedule all bills
In this age of technology it’s super easy to get all of your monthly bills paid in one sitting.
Keep a list of which bills need to be scheduled—I use the notes feature on my phone—and then sit down and schedule them. If you still get most of your bills in the mail you can also keep them in a file as they arrive so you have them ready to go.
There are several ways to schedule your bills. You can use your bank’s bill pay system, which I use for our mortgage, utilities, and cable. For credit cards, it is easiest to use the company’s website to schedule payments.
To make it even more streamlined, you can arrange to have the bills taken out of your account automatically each month. We do this with a handful of bills—mostly because we get a discount if we do.
Why it’s important: Scheduling bills usually takes about 15 minutes a month. In that 15 minutes you will take away the chance of accruing late fees and you will not have the stress of having to remember due dates all month long.
2. Check up on your budget
Whether you use a budgeting software or not—we use YNAB on and off—a quick monthly check up of your budget will do wonders for your finances.
Check on how much money you have available this month, and make budget goals accordingly. Look at how well you stuck to spending goals in the previous month. Know what your upcoming expenses are and make sure you have them budgeted properly.
Why it’s important: When you know your budget, you are less likely to overspend. Your savings goals will come to fruition much faster!
3. Clean the dishwasher
In order for your dishwasher to work optimally, it must be “deep cleaned” each month.
First, take out the filter and clean it with warm, soapy water. Let it dry, and put it back into the dishwasher.
Don’t know where it is? How to find your dishwasher filter.
Second, run a wash without dishes using either vinegar or a cleaning tab made for this purpose. I use the Affresh dishwasher cleaning tablets.
Why it’s important: My dishwasher stopped working once and it was 100% because I didn’t know I was supposed to clean the filter. Your appliance will last much longer and you won’t have to pay high repair fees if you deep clean it regularly.
4. Deep clean the washing machine
Have you ever noticed how gross and grimy your washing machine can get? Yeah, me too.
First, clean out the drum. You can use vinegar and bleach for this, or you can use Affresh washing machine cleaning tablets (I use these because they are easier).
Here are some good directions on using vinegar and bleach: How to clean your washing machine.
Be sure to also clean out the detergent trays and wipe down the rubber seals and exterior of your machine.
Why it matters: The mold and mildew that accrues inside your washing machine can affect the cleanliness of your laundry. Keep the machine clean, and your laundry will always be cleaned well.
5. Clean the vacuum
Are you noticing a theme? We’re cleaning all the things that are supposed to clean our stuff!
To clean your vacuum, first clean or change the filter, depending on the type of vacuum you have. Refer to your owner’s manual to find out how to do this. I have both a Shark stick vacuum and an iRobot Roomba robot vacuum. The Roomba makes it very easy to switch the filter, the Shark was a bit more complicated, but now I know.
If you use a bagless style vacuum, clean out the dust cup with warm, soapy water. Make sure it is fully dry before using the vacuum again.
Finally, clean out the brush roll. I usually use scissors to cut the hair and other stringy stuff that gets itself wrapped in there.
I am the mother to three daughters and all four of us females have a hecking lot of long, thick hair. Hair has destroyed more vacuums than I care to count because it gets all wound up in the brushroll. A monthly cleaning isn’t usually enough at our house, but should be fine for most people.
***If hair is a big issue for you, too, we recently found a vacuum that has been a dream in dealing with hair! The Shark Rocket with Anti-Hair Wrap technology is AMAZING.***
Why it’s important: Your vacuum will work better when it is cleaned often. It will also last longer, saving you money on repairs or replacements.
6. Get rid of papers
Paper clutter is real, and left unchecked, it can easily take over your life.
You know where the paper hotspots are in your house. Take a few minutes to gather all of the papers that have accumulated over the month and systematically go through them.
You have a few options for each paper:
- File important papers that need to be kept. This can be done digitally or in a filing cabinet/folder.
- Recycle or trash anything that you no longer need.
- Move important information into your planner or other notebook and get rid of the paper.
- Shred sensitive information that you no longer need.
For more ideas on what to do with all the school papers that tend to gather click here: 7 Ways to Deal with School Paper Clutter
Why it’s important: Dealing with accumulated paper clutter will clear space on your desk and in your mind. You will be less likely to forget important dates, one time bills, or other information.
7. Donate a box of clothes
Whether you choose to go through closets and drawers all at once, or slowly fill a box throughout the month, donate that box.
I personally go through drawers and closets a couple times a month. I will also take things out of the clean laundry that I know don’t fit my kids anymore and add them to the donation box.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be just clothing that you donate. Anything that you realize is no longer serving you is fair game for the donation box.
You can donate the box at Goodwill, or make money on it in several different ways. The key is just to get rid of it and start a new box for the new month.
Why it’s important: Clutter is one of the biggest deterrents to our peace. If we are spending all of our time managing our stuff we do not have time to pursue the things we really want to do. Get rid of the clutter and find more happiness!
8. Decorate for the upcoming holiday
If you love decorating for holidays, the first of the month is an excellent time to do it. Take down the previous month’s decor and put up the new.
I do not decorate for every holiday. If it is a month that I do decorate for, I pull up the bins first thing in the morning. Aside from Christmas, most holidays take me about 30 minutes to put up.
Possible holidays and decorations for each month:
- February—Valentine’s Day
- March—St. Patrick’s Day, Easter
- April—Easter (unless it falls in March!), spring
- July—red, white, and blue, flags
- September—fall leaves, pumpkins, scarecrows
I generally only decorate for fall holidays and Christmas.
I put up pumpkins and other fall decor in September and add Halloween items in October. In November, I switch out the Halloween for a few Thanksgiving decorations I have—but most of the decorations for November are identical to September.
Christmas takes me three days to decorate, so maybe that doesn’t count.
Why it’s important: Family traditions are important, and having a set day to do it ensures it will be done.
9. Update your to-do journal
I have used a to-do journal for many years now to put all the things I have to do in one place.
Sit down with it on the first of the month and dump everything you can think of in it. Appointments that need to be made, items that need to be purchased, emails you need to send, etc.
The journal is updated daily, but I find that a big brain dump at the beginning of the month is very helpful.
Why it’s important: You will be more productive by having all the tasks you need to do in one place.
10. Sit down with your planner
Your planner (or Google calendar), is different than the to-do journal.
Sit down and look at the month ahead and plan for important events. If you want to be sure to take the local fall color tour in September, schedule it. Know what birthdays and holidays are coming up and what you need to do to plan for them.
A quick scan of previously made appointments gives you a good idea of what to expect for the month. More importantly, it allows you to plan for them.
I personally have my to-do journal and planner out simultaneously so I can be fully prepared.
Why it’s important: It’s easy to let little things fall through the cracks. By taking the time to schedule them, your life feels more organized and purposeful.
11. Set personal goals for the month
As a busy mom, self-improvement and self-care can often be put last priority. But it shouldn’t!
Take time at the beginning of every month to set some goals that are for your own personal growth. Whether they be physical, intellectual, social, spiritual, or in any other area, figure out what is important to you.
While you’re at it, break down those goals into bite-sized pieces and have a plan for working on them. You can keep them in either your to-do journal or your planner, just be sure to look at them often. Find and download any mobile apps that might help you. Many apps are incredibly helpful for staying on track with your specific goals.
Why it’s important: Setting goals often gives you something to work for and helps you to stay motivated. These goals will make you a better person and increase your quality of life.
It may feel like this is a lot to do in one day, especially if the first happens to fall on a day where you are busier than normal.
The truth is, doing all of these things generally takes me less than two hours. If I stay focused, I can have it all done before noon and it is so very worth it!
If you can do these things on the first of every month, I promise you’ll be more organized, have more success, and see more personal growth than ever.