A couple of years ago, I read somewhere about the idea of making a specific list of tasks that you complete once a month. These would be essential tasks or things that are best done as batch work when you’ve got repetitive tasks you’re going to do more than once – but you do it on a monthly basis. That way, those little pesky tasks don’t get sprinkled throughout your month, and instead you’re just doing them once. Setting aside a monthly duty day to complete these tasks allows you to really focus in on all of these (somewhat random) tasks, and it frees you up the rest of the month to focus on FAR more important things! It’s a win-win!
I’m going to get into a list of what is on my monthly duty day, but the task that originally spawned this idea was actually backing up and cleaning images off my phone! If you’re anything like me, your phone ends up having a TON of images on it, and eventually you run out of space. There’s a few things I’ve implemented since then to take care of this and not have to worry about it, but originally, it was because I needed to remember to hook my phone up to my computer and transfer everything over. That was the first task that made its way onto my monthly duty day list.
Implementing a Monthly Duty Day
It’s a really simple concept to start doing a monthly duty day, but there’s a few things you want to do that will help you be successful.
1. Choosing a Day
My biggest tip here is to be consistent, otherwise you’ll skip it or it won’t happen. I personally recommend choosing a date either at the beginning or end of the month, and to keep it the same from month-to-month. There’s just something about the cycle of the monthly calendar turning over to the next that makes us more willing to sit down and do the important things!
I’ve tried monthly duty days on the last Friday of the month, and the first Monday of the month. I know for some people, one may work better than the other. For me, I find that the last Friday works best because most of my tasks for my monthly duty day are things I don’t really enjoy a ton. I’d rather spend my high-energy days on my bigger goals and projects when I’m in the right mindset earlier in the week. And by the end of the week and month, my monthly duty day serves as sort of a “clean up” day for all of the business tasks I’ve been putting off and when my energy is dwindling.
It’s important to consider your own business workflows and mindset when choosing a day. For some people, Mondays are better because they are still easing into the workweek. For me, I have lots of drive to get all the things done on Mondays, and they are often filled with personal errands too (I usually do my grocery pickup then) that it just isn’t a good fit for me to have my monthly duty day then.
2. Monthly Duty Day Tasks
Now it’s time to make your list of monthly duty day tasks. Think of all the things you know you need to do regularly, but typically don’t because you have no other workflow or system connected with the task. For many business owners, this list starts with bookkeeping and accounting, mileage tracking, backing up hard drives, or quarterly taxes.
My list includes a few more things that are related to my business and personal life:
- Bookkeeping and accounting
- Classify drives using mileage IQ
- Review my monthly and quarterly progress on major projects and goals
- Google analytics review
- Update my website galleries
- Plan out Tailwind for Pinterest
- Backup my phone and clear off old photos
- Add new client testimonies to my website
- Go through email inbox and delete and categorize email
- Clean all of my lenses
- Clean my studio floor and bathroom (my studio restroom gets very very minimal use)
- Check for office supplies & order
- Review my content calendar for the upcoming month
- Submit weddings or shoots for publication
- Design & order vendor albums or vendor gifts
- Clean my car – As a photographer, during busy months, I’m pretty much working out of my car between shoots and it can get a bit disheveled, so if the weather is nice, I’ll go through and clean things up
- Clean up my desk – This is a nice one to do at the end so you start the month feeling organized
- Brain dump all tasks – This is something I do a bit more regularly, but doing this once a month helps clear your mind and prepares you for the next month ahead
I also have a shorter quarterly list that has reminders for paying sales tax, and reviewing things for our quarterly team meeting. Yours might include budget review or employee reviews, or any number of other things.
If you’re outsourcing any of these monthly tasks (and I highly recommend you DO consider outsourcing!) make sure that it’s clear who is assigned each task and when you expect it to be completed.
One big tip I have for monthly duty days is to be able to replicate your list each month. I know a lot of people use Trello for this, though I personally don’t. For me, I actually have this list laminated and in my planner so I can use it each month and cross things off with a dry erase marker. Easy and simple!
3. Making Monthly Duty Day Work for You
One of the things that makes monthly duty day important is that it cleans up all of the important yet not urgent tasks that you’ve been putting off. Well….taxes are important – don’t miss that! But really, when you set aside one time per month to do these monthly tasks that aren’t super exciting, it will help you get off to a fresh start for each month!
When random other tasks pop up during the month, you add them to your monthly duty day list. Keep a running list using your favorite to-do list manager – I personally use ClickUp, but Trello can work- or just a post it note can work! Add the task to your list, so that you can write it down, and forget about it until monthly duty day. Then when the day arrives, you can focus in on all of those tasks and get them all completed in a more efficient manner!
One final quick note: because monthly duty day does include some tasks I don’t love, it’s easy for me to want to skip it. And you might also fall into that trap too. If you’re anything like me, then I greatly encourage you to team up with another entrepreneur friend and hold each other accountable on this. You can even schedule your monthly duty days on the same day so you can keep each other on track. Or, if you really just need some good old motivation, give yourself some kind of small reward for completing it – whatever works to get the job done!
For more business tips, check out these posts.