Take a hard look at your list today #productivity

I have too much I “have to do.”

Really, you have to do all of that? Those 50-100 things on your list, someone is MAKING you do all those things? At the end of your day, if you haven't done all that, a big buzzard of big lists is going to swoop down and whisk you to the nest where people who don't finish their list go at the end of the day?

I'm asking and reasking myself about all these things I “have” to do. Overburdened, overwhelmed, and overworked, I'm not the only teacher, parent, or professional in this plight.

Begin with 3 wins
I've begun making an active list of 3 things each day that I want to be my major accomplishments of the day. I write those three things before the day even starts:

Things like:
– “I will be successfully caught up on all grading, and provide feedback to students so they can improve.”
– “I will be an excellent National Honor Society advisor today by making sure I've sent out acceptance letters and communicated all details about the poinsettia fundraiser.'
– “My family will know I love them today as I cook an excellent meal, get the house organized, and show each person that I love them.”
– “I plan and have an incredibly fun trip traveling to San Francisco today.”
– “I will be engaging and exciting speaker for the people at CUE today and will work to be a blessing to each of them as they go back to their schools on Monday.”
– “I will seek to inspire and encourage teachers who are having a hard time today in ways that will help and inspire them to help and inspire each student in their classroom.”

Things like that…

But when I have these 3 things written out — my takeaways from the day, it gives me a lens through which to view my list so that I can focus and accomplish the most important things. At the end of my day, I should have something to show for the day besides a bunch of check marks. I should have accomplishments.

Questions about that all important list
We might “have” to do everything on our list but have we thought about WHY we HAVE to do those things?
Do they fit in with the big picture of what we want to accomplish in our lives?
Do we have weekly and monthly and yearly goals and are we constantly moving towards them?
Do our goals also include inhabiting healthy bodies that are rested and well exercised?
Do we impose limits on certain areas of our life that will consume all of the goodness out of every other area of our lives?

These are hard questions but I am looking clearly into your eyes and telling you (and myself) the hard cold facts of life:


You have choices. Hamsters don't HAVE to run on hamster wheels and you don't have to be slave to some list. My biggest issue with the “getting things done” model is that it is intended to capture EVERYTHING that needs to be done. Everything we think needs to be done, doesn't have to be done.

Everything can't be done. The inability to say no is a form of greed – one that wants everyone to be happy and love you. Check and see if you're breathing. Ok, if you made it to this sentence, you're breathing. To everyone out there breathing SOMEONE DOESN'T LIKE THE FACT YOU'RE BREATHING. Get over it. You're not going to please everyone and you can't do everything.

There needs to be a system for some things to fall off our list because they just aren't important. Spend your life doing something important and that is not trying to please everyone because that is impossible. Good ideas don't always make a good use of YOUR time.


At the top of Bloom's Taxonomy is Evaluating and creating. I find it interesting that as teachers we are trying to help our students analyze, evaluate, and create and yet we often rarely step back to analyze and evaluate our own systems of work. Should we be analyzing WHAT we are doing and evaluating how we are doing what we are doing so that we are able to create things unique and original in this world.


You are a finite resource. There's only one of you and YOU have to choose. It is your job to select the plow to which you will put your hand. There are things we do not choose: cancer, illness in the family, the fact that our child has an LD — these are things that happen. But we can always choose our attitude and we can always choose our response.


So, if, like me, you are facing this day not really sure if you're up to the task. Make choices.

For my Christian friends, there is an amazing song that I dedicate to you that says, “I will lift my eyes to the Maker of the mountains I can't climb.”

So, take this day and make choices. This is your day. Unless you are living in a prison today, no one can tell you how you must think about this day and every single detail of what you do. Everyone, even those living in a prison today, can choose their own attitude.


You are special.

– Written on my iPad using Blog Press by Vicki Davis, author, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere