Do You Need A Workflow For That?


Our recent member survey was very clear: instructional leaders are stressed and overwhelmed.

Countless issues create stress and long hours. It’s the nature of the job.

But when nature is harsh, what do we do? We adapt.

If you want to go hiking in the snow, you don’t wear flip-flops and shorts. You equip yourself to handle the reality you’ll face. You get your snow pants and hiking boots on, and you hit the trail with confidence.

Can we adapt to something as complex and human as school leadership? I believe we can—even if every day is unique, the issues we face fall into certain patterns.

When you know what to expect, you can develop a system to handle it. Reliably. Consistently. And with less stress.


A workflow is basically a set of decisions made in advance, specifying the outcome and the process by which that outcome is achieved.

Deciding is often the hardest part—if it weren’t for the decision-making aspect, other people could do most of your tasks for you, right?

Here’s what we need to decide:

  • Strategy—what should the outcome be?
  • Tools—how will we manage the process?
  • Habits—when and how will we carry out the work?

That’s the High Performance Triangle—strategy makes us effective, tools make us efficient, and habits make us consistent.

Think about any “traffic jam” you’re facing right now. Chances are the problem is that one of these three factors is the culprit. If you want to reduce your stress and become more effective in your work as an instructional leader, work on your workflows.

An Example: Your Inbox

You probably get dozens or hundreds of emails a day. Do you keep up? Do you get to “inbox zero” every day?

I do, but it’s only possible because I have a workflow:

  • Strategy—email is for communication, so nothing “lives” there.
  • Tools—tasks go to my task app; appointments go to my calendar; info for future reference gets archived or forwarded to Evernote
  • Habits—inbox zero once a day; keep email closed when not actively processing it.

Try It

Next week, I’ll have more for you on how to develop high-performance workflows to get “unstuck” wherever you have traffic jams in your work. In the meantime, think about one of your “traffic jams” and ask yourself:

  • What’s the outcome this work is supposed to achieve?
  • Do I need to put certain tools in place?
  • What habits will I need to develop to get it under control permanently?

Develop High Performance Habits

Learn more about developing a high-performance workflow in our productivity program for instructional leaders:

Rockwood School District Announces “Kid Superintendent” Search

@RockwoodSchools superintendent Dr. Eric Knost (@ROCK_Supt) is looking for the next Kid Superintendent.

Taking a cue from YouTube phenom Kid President, Kid Superintendent will have an important job:

Thanks to @JustinTarte for the link.

Why Instructional Leaders Must Make a Habit of Classroom Walkthroughs

Everyone knows that instructional leaders need to spend time in classrooms. Being visible, doing formal observations, making informal visits, and providing feedback—all are at the heart of instructional leadership, because the classroom is where instructional takes place.

So why do instructional leaders spend so little time in classrooms? Because we don’t make it a habit.

If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing every day. That’s my focus in this Periscope broadcast:

Get Periscope for iOS or Android
Follow me on Twitter @eduleadership or in the Periscope mobile app

More On Walkthroughs

Join the 21-Day Instructional Leadership Challenge