Getting Your Teacher To Do List Under Control

organization Jan 02, 2020
I'm the queen of lists and teacher to do lists. Don't even get me started!

Seriously, I really do LOVE lists and live my life by them. It's my go-to for staying organized - checklists, to do lists, grocery lists, lists of goals and so much more. I've got lists for all kinds of things. And while I might have mental lists, more often than not, mine are written down. As one of my besties tells her kids, "I have two brain cells left and one them is busy." Yup. that's exactly how I feel so many days. So, I write things down. But, a million notes and lists don't work. It's just too easy to lose track of it all. Trust me, I've tried THAT approach. 

This time of year, the Teacher To Do List can become overwhelming. There's so much to accomplish in what's left of the school year, and so many extra tasks get added to your teacher plate whether you want them or not. Add in all your personal tasks and goals, and it can be a recipe for disaster. That Teacher To Do List can become a mile long. When that happens, just looking at the list can be stressful and overwhelming. 

Not to worry. I've got a system for that. [Shocking, right?!]

Here's how to tame YOUR Teacher To Do List. 

Make a list of everything you need to do. Then, group like items that can be done more efficiently together. After that, rank items in order of importance, due dates, etc.

Calendar Everything

Put everything on your calendar with a date and time. You can make adjustment as you go and as you approach each week or day. Here's a key to making in doable. Try to keep tasks [other than teaching and your normal routines and tasks] to 3 a day, at most. In order to accomplish the tasks you set for yourself, you have to make it manageable. Loading your day will just set you up for failure. Be realistic so you aren't just kicking items further down your calendar. [Trust me. I've done that. It's not pretty.]

Color Code

I use color codes on my calendar so I can mentally sort items as I look at my day. Here's a few ideas for categories to use for this strategy. 

  • Personal Items - morning and evening routines, tasks toward a personal goal, reminders, brunch with a friend...
  • Appointments, Meetings & Phone Calls
  • Kids Activities [each of my kids has their own color but you can use one for all kid stuff]
  • Spouse - work travel, date night... [my husband travels for work a lot so I put that on my calendar]
  • Projects - each step or task toward to end goal, due date, etc.
  • Home Projects or Other Tasks
  • Birthdays, Holidays, Days you Celebrate [100s Day]
  • Types of Projects or Work [grading, planning, committee work, 
  • Recreation and Rest - schedule downtime, vacations, fun events, etc.

Plan time for transitions, travel to meetings or prep for that meeting. If you don't leave time in your calendar for all of those items, you'll be rushing all day and wear yourself out. Block that time out on your calendar now, and you can thank me later.

Use a Daily List or Calendar

Every Sunday evening and each evening of the week before I go to bed, I take 5 minutes and fill in my weekly calendar [on Sunday] or update my daily calendar [on week nights]. There's tons of great options for planners, choose one that speaks to you. I use Michael Hyatt's Full Focus Planner

This becomes my working list for each day. It keeps everything in one place. No more scribbled lists to be lost, post-it notes buried in a pile.... Yes, I still use sticky notes. If I use a sticky note to jot a reminder, an idea or something to put in my calendar later, I just tuck it into the back of this planner and deal with it at the end of the day when I do my updates.


Pay attention to your habits. Do you blow off that 5am alarm and miss your planned workout on a regular basis? It's time for a new workout plan. What's not working for you? Change it. Just because this used to work for you, doesn't mean it works for you now in this season in life. Try something new. Just don't get stuck on something that's not working for you. Let it go and try something different. I'll be talking more about habits that stick next week.

Wish Lists and Such

As teachers, we always have wish lists, supply lists, etc. If you have something that you keep a master list for, just create a document on your computer for it. You can jot new items down on a sticky note and tuck it into your planner. When you do your evening update, just add it to your master list and toss the sticky note. Done.

I'm praying this year is filled with joy and a lot less stress than last year for all of you.


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