5 Mistakes I Made Trying to Tackle My Teacher To-Do List


Have you ever found yourself buried under an overwhelming teacher to-do list, desperately trying to stay afloat amidst a sea of tasks? As a new teacher, I made countless mistakes while attempting to tackle my never-ending list of responsibilities. Today, I’m sharing five of the biggest mistakes I made and the valuable lessons I learned along the way.

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1. Overloading My To-Do List

In my early years of teaching, I made the critical error of creating overly ambitious to-do lists. I would fill multiple sticky notes with tasks, only to feel defeated when I couldn’t complete them all. Instead, I learned to limit my daily tasks to a manageable number—no more than 3-5 “Get-to-Do’s” per day, with additional “May-Do’s” for flexibility.

2. Writing To-Do Lists Last Minute

I used to wait until the last minute to write my daily to-do lists, often rushing through the process and feeling disorganized. To remedy this, I established a closing-out routine at the end of each day. This routine includes checking emails, responding to families, and reviewing my to-do list for the following day, ensuring a smooth start to each morning.

3. Neglecting Task Grouping or Theming

One of my biggest time-wasting mistakes was failing to group similar tasks together. Task switching can drain energy and productivity, so I now theme my days to focus on specific types of tasks. For example, Mondays are for lesson planning, Tuesdays for prepping materials, and so on. This method minimizes energy depletion and maximizes efficiency.

4. Failing to Prioritize Tasks

I fell into the trap of treating every task on my to-do list as equally important, leading to burnout and overwhelm. Inspired by Stephen Covey’s Rock Method, I learned to prioritize my tasks based on their importance and urgency. I identified my “Classroom Running Activities” (CRAs)—the essential tasks required for my classroom to function smoothly—and prioritize them above all else.

5. Tying Worth to Productivity

Perhaps the most damaging mistake I made was equating my productivity with my self-worth. I believed that working harder meant I was a better teacher, leading to feelings of inadequacy on days when I couldn’t complete my to-do list. I’ve since learned to separate my identity from my productivity, practicing self-compassion and reminding myself that my best is always enough.


Tackling your teacher to-do list can be a daunting task, but by avoiding these five common mistakes, you can approach it with greater ease and efficiency. Remember to:

  • limit your daily tasks
  • establish a consistent routine for creating your to-do list
  • group similar tasks together
  • prioritize your responsibilities
  • separate your worth from your productivity

By implementing these strategies, you’ll find yourself navigating your to-do list with confidence and grace. If you want to dive deeper here are two areas you can learn more:

  1. Maximize Your Prep Freebie: Download our free guide “Maximize Your Prep” for additional tips and strategies to streamline your teacher to-do list.
  2. Join The Present Teacher Circle: Elevate your productivity and efficiency with our comprehensive program, The Present Teacher Circle. Gain access to exclusive resources, coaching, and support to revolutionize your approach to classroom management and organization. Learn more and join today!

As always remember:


Helena <3


Feeling overwhelmed and not sure if teaching is for you? Click here to learn the key shift on how to love teaching again in the new year.