The 5 trays way to manage your workload and reduce your stress in school roles.

Juggling workload is rarely easy. In fact, it’s often a major cause of stress. How often do you feel overwhelmed when the “to do” list becomes a job in itself? Or maybe you are adding more things to the list than you’re able to cross off?


Staring at a long list of jobs to complete causes brain-freeze (like drinking a milkshake too fast but without the fun), so don’t do it.

Don’t look at it all at once.

For almost 20 years I have looked at different ways to manage workload effectively – that means being productive, organised and less stressed.

There’s only so much you can do in a working day. You are limited to 24 hours – not that you should be working around the clock. You need a system that allows you to be flexible as priorities change but keep “on it” to stay productive with your time.

Here’s the answer I found.

A desktop 5 drawer organiser. 5 days – 5 drawers. To start with, prioritise what you would like to do in the order of the days of the week. If that report is due on Wednesday, put it in the Monday or Tuesday drawer. For less important tasks, divide them according to how much capacity you perceive you’ll have on any given day that week. For example, if you have time to do 3 tasks on Thursday, choose 3 things to put in that drawer.

Each day, you can take out the drawer of the day. It’s manageable. You won’t forget anything – everything is in a drawer somewhere. You know that the priority jobs are planned to hit deadlines. You start with those tasks each day. The other things in the drawer can be done in order of importance.

If you have a smooth day and get the drawer completed, you feel great. If other things happen to take priority during the day, you can move the least important tasks into another drawer. If you burst through tasks quickly and still have a bit of time left, you can pick a low importance job from the next day’s drawer.

Each day, the drawer will be empty. You’ve always got a sense of achievement. It is either completed or re-prioritised. You will not forget a task because it’s in one of the drawers.

No more writing out “to do” lists, staring at a jumble of jobs trying to juggle the order of priority. No more having to re-write the lists when there’s too much crossing out and adding. Just a simple system – 5 days, 5 drawers.

There are other answers to managing workload.

Grab the Mapleleaf Vision free stress reduction guide here at the end of the page.



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I first worked with Will whilst I was a junior member of a teaching team. I worked closely with him for around three years and he became a true mentor to me. During this time Will helped encourage me to discover my own leadership style and he mapped out what it takes to be successful. I highly recommend Will for life and career coaching.

Will is a professional, natural leader who manages to make you feel at ease. He manages to be both emphatic and encouraging, whilst also managing to challenge you to find your own answers. Will’s approach is totally non-judgmental and the sessions are really focused on you and on what you want to achieve. Working with Will has allowed me to address challenges I was facing and he brought a wealth of resources and practical tools to help me set goals, clarify my values, and explore avenues right away. Even though I left teaching 5 years ago, I still seek out Will for his help and guidance and I appreciate his versatility as a thought partner, ally, and coach. Our sessions are always productive and efficiently run, which is perfect for someone who is juggling many priorities! Will brings great communication, professionalism and quality to his work and I highly recommend him as a life/business coach.
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