Grade Transformation Blog

Grade Transformation Blog

No.1 in Transforming Students’ Grades

Archive for April 2019

Stop making overwhelming to-do lists (do THIS instead!)

Does your teen get overwhelmed by all the things they have to do?

Do they sometimes have a never ending to-do list that gets them down or stresses them out?

In fact, re-write that… Don’t we all have that and feel that, most of the time?!!

I’ve always got a long to-do list and am sometimes (Okay, often) guilty
of adding way too much to that list,
as I have a tendency be a bit over-ambitious or with predicting how much I can do in a day or a week.
(I prefer to call it being ‘optimistic’) 😉

But I’ve gradually developed and honed a ‘not-a-list’ to-do system/blueprint/regime/whatever-you-wanna-call-it that I now swear by and teach all my personal coaching students to do.

And I’m gonna share it with you 🙂

(Note to self – think of a cool name for this system… ideas in an email please!)



This ‘system’ is a simple (no tech-y project management software needed, nor crazy-weird special diaries you can only get online from Sweden or wherever).
way to getting everything that needs to be done, done.
On time.
And without any added stress or feeling guilty when you’re not slaving away.

(Because yes, I used to be guilty of feeling guilty if I wasn’t working when there was oh-so much on that looooong to-do list. Until I got this sussed).


Now, It’s no secret to anyone who knows me or has been a part of this grade transformation community for some time, that I’m a person who likes to keep busy. I’m a do-er and a planner and I love a project.

And therefore I’ve always got a long to-do list and can often be guilty of adding way too much to that to do list as I can be a bit over ambitious with predicting how much I can do in a day or a week.

(And then moaning to my husband, Alistair, that I’m way too busy and I’ve got too much to do! He, of course, then reminds me that I was the one that gave myself those jobs in the first place, and then I sheep-ishly agree with him and go back to what I was doing, minus any sympathy I was hoping for).


The point is, there are a lot of positives to this – getting lots done, being efficient with my time, but it can also lead to feeling overloaded and overwhelmed if I’m not careful.

So, I’ve gradually developed a system that prevents these negatives and helps me stay calm and on top of life – (most of the time!!… Hey, no-one and no system is totally perfect!) 😉

And I thought I’d share it with you as it’s pretty simple and could be enacted by your teen too if they feel it might work for them.


First up: I DON’T make a to-do list.

I’ll say that again.

I NEVER write out a full to-do list.

I used to – and it was simply… overwhelming.

Plus of course I never got to the end of it, because as I’d cross things off over a few days, naturally, more things would just get added.
Know the feeling??!
So I never felt like I could just relax or watch some TV or chill out, without feeling guilty or twitchy that I should be doing something more productive, something to tick off that list.


Here’s what I do instead.

There are three parts to it:

1) I break down every task into specific actions


2) I then write each action into a specific day in my diary.

So in my diary I have specific things on specific days.
Things like anyone has in their diary – dentist appointments, coffee dates etc.
But I also have my tasks and work to do.

3) Once I’ve completed a task, I highlight it.
And yes, I even highlight the fun stuff like the coffee dates (because, everyone loves to cross things off a list right?!)

This system means I still have a visible record of what’s been done when,
because it’s not just a piece of paper or a post-it note that’s gonna get thrown away.
I can still see any outstanding tasks AND I get the glory; that sense of satisfaction, by highlighting as a way of crossing off, the item.
(Note: pretty highlighter colours can help boost that enjoyment factor just a tad more too) 🙂


So the rules are:
– No general list.
– No big projects that are going to take more than an hour or two to complete. If they are bigger than that, they need to be broken down more.



  • If it’s something small, or stand alone, like a phone call I need to make, then rather than just writing it on a piece of paper or as part of a random list, I note it down on the day I plan to do it with the time and any other details.

Then, once it’s done, I highlight it.


  • What about a task that requires more than a short one-off action? Or, more than an hour or two of work?


I’ll give an example of my coaching sessions I do with my Gold and Platinum students.

Of course I put the actual coaching session with the timing in my diary – with a buffer either side.

But there are also other tasks associated with a coaching session, and they get broken down and written in on specific days too.
I’ll put in my diary three days before to email the student and confirm the session date and time. Plus, if we haven’t already arranged what we’ll cover, I’ll ask what they want us to work on in their session.

I also put in prep time.
That goes in my diary for the day before the session.
I don’t like to do this too far in advance as I want everything to be fresh in my mind and as up to date as possible.

And then finally, I put in a note the day after our session to write it up and send through the summary document I produce, along with any resources or other help I’ve planned to pass on to the student.

So, this keeps it clear exactly how much work is involved and doesn’t leave me struggling to fit in all those other elements beyond the coaching session itself.



The beauty of this system is that it not only helps me stay on top of absolutely everything;
even the small things that are associated with a task that could otherwise slip through the net or be rushed, or just add to my overwhelm if they aren’t planned for and written down.
But, it also:

++  encourages the act of breaking down any project into manageable pieces,
++  helps me track my progress
++  stay motivated and positive by seeing all the tasks I’ve accomplished
++  keeps those to-do lists much smaller and more manageable each day.

Instead of seeing 20 things to do, I might have 4 or 5.



I’ve had to train myself to only look at one day on any particular day.
That’s a really important part of it.
I have to tell myself to “just get those things done and trust that if I do, and I do that each day, then everything will be taken care of.”


Finally, those smaller daily lists mean I can actually relax at the end, guilt-free.
If I’ve gotten everything done for the day, I can rest easy knowing that life is under control and can take some time to chill out and do whatever else I want, without worrying about the other things left to do, because I know they are programmed in for another day. Not for today.

Ahhhhh- guilt-free relaxation!

But of course, this is just what works for me and has worked for many other students I’ve shared this with and have enacted it.
Feel free to tweak and adjust.
And of course, there might be something that works even better!
Plus, hey, everyone’s different. What works for one, may not for another, and vice-versa.
So leave me a comment and let me know what systems work for you and your teen,
and until next week, let’s make this a fantastic week!

Katie 🙂



Share Button

Feeling like there’s not enough progress?

In a recent email conversation, a mum told me how her daughter was a little disappointed with her recent English mark. BUT, as her mum, she could see just how far her daughter’s come and doesn’t want her to feel disheartened.

This is a common situation in Term 1 because those assignments and assessments that have just been completed
are being judged on the criteria for your teen’s new year group,
BUT with only having had only one term of teaching at that level!

So, here’s a practical action that can help alleviate the frustration that may arise when your teen feels like they aren’t progressing as they’d like, or are falling victim to the new criteria and demands of a higher year group.



Quick Analogy: Do you have an analogue watch or clock nearby that you can look at?

If you do, then just quickly note the time right now and then watch that minute hand.
Can you see it moving?
(unless you have super-power eyesight!)
But, we know it is, right?!

I’m Katie Price – Grade Transformation Expert and in a moment I’ll explain what this means for your teen.
Because I wanna talk about an issue from a recent email conversation I had with a mum, who told me how her daughter was a little disappointed with her recent English mark BUT, that as a mum, she can see just how far her daughter’s come and doesn’t want her to feel disheartened.

This is a significant observation, especially at the start of a new academic year.

Term 1 assignments and assessments that have just been completed are being judged on the criteria for your teen’s new Year group, BUT with only having had one term’s worth of teaching at that level.
So it can be tough sometimes to even maintain the same grades as the previous year, let alone continue to improve on them.


I discussed this issue back in my blogWhat got you here, won’t get you there’,
so if this resonates with you, then go check that out after finishing this one 🙂


Because what I really wanna share with you is a practical action that can help alleviate any disappointment or frustration that may arise when your teen feels like they aren’t progressing as they’d like, or are falling victim to the new criteria and demands of a higher year group. Especially, like I said, from their results in Term 1.


Well, here it is…


Think back to the work your teen was producing 3 years ago.

It would look and sound quite different to what they are producing now.
And what about comparing the questions they were tackling or how they were writing and performing two or even just one year ago?

For example :

– The complexity of the music script they are now learning for an instrument will be more intricate than this time last year.

– The quality of their artwork will be higher,

– The vocabulary and sentence structures in their writing will be more sophisticated,

– The creativity in their design or ideas will be more interesting,

– The difficulty of the maths questions they’re now tackling will be greater.


I’m pretty sure that if they did this, they’d see and think something along the lines of either:
“Gee – that felt like quite a challenge back then, it looks kinda easy now”.


“Wow – I was really proud of that when I did it, thought it was pretty darn brilliant. But hmmm… it doesn’t look or sound so great now”…

It can be a great way for them to see the hard evidence of their progress and new levels they’re operating at.


So collect, or photograph, or digitally save a few work samples from your teen at yearly intervals.

Then you’ll have something to pull out and remind them of how far they’ve come if they ever need a reminder or some proof.
Keep a copy of an English assignment, a photo of a piece of art, a piece of music they’ve been rehearsing or a science analysis.

It doesn’t even have to be a whole project – for example the analysis part of a science project is where students most develop their writing.

(And in the digital age this is so easy and DOESN’T require you to be hoarding folders of paper or rolled up collages! Bonus!) 😉


Now, if you had one… take a look back at that minute hand on your watch or on the clock…
It’s moved a tiny bit, right?

Our development and growth in our skills is the same – it’s such a gradual process that we ourselves often can’t see it.
And the way that success criteria and grading are set up to increase through the year levels – as of course they should do –  well, it can compound this lack of sense of progress.
But for almost all students, they ARE progressing and sometimes just need a good solid reminder through some hard evidence to boost their confidence and motivation.


So, start now. See what you and your teen could save from their Term 1 assessments and then leave me a comment or drop me an email and let me know what you file and save and why you chose those them.
Is it a subject they struggle with?
Or is it something they love and want to continue with and achieve well in, in future?


And if you think this idea would be useful to others, feel free to share! Forward in an email or share this blog link on social media.

And until next week, let’s make this a fantastic week.

Katie 🙂




Share Button