From Dr. Magdalena Bak-Maier, Grid™ Creator and MTC Founder
I developed the Grid approach to support work-life balance and be holistically productive.
Below is another incredibly positive story from Abi Baughton-Thomas. In it, she shares how Grid transformed her approach to getting results. I can really relate to a great deal of what she describes. It is my hope her story inspires you as well.
“Hi – my name is Abi and I live with my family in Great Malvern
I never finished the degree I started when I was 18. My daughter was 5 and my son was 1 when I returned to the Uni to train as a Speech and Language Therapist. I was 32. While I completed counseling and NLP training in the gap, I lacked the confidence to make it a career path.
It took 6 years part-time to qualify as an SLT. In that time period, I struggled with fatigue, skin issues, and eye infections. In retrospect, my life was not terribly well balanced. I knew deep down SLT wasn’t my calling and there were some very low patches. “
What happened next?
“After finishing my SLT post-grad requirements, I embarked on an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology. It was something I really wanted to do. Having finished the PGDip section and another therapeutic coaching diploma I loved coaching. And yet, after 2 years I just could not face doing the research element. I was tired and ready to walk away without an MSc.
My wise course leader advised deferring and 10 months later, I was ready to take another run at it. While I felt more healthy, physically and mentally, I was still inclined to go round in circles. I’d set goals and tried to manage my habits, constantly rewriting rules only to abandon them. It was clear to me that I was missing something in my process.”
What was true before you discovered the Grid™?
“When Covid happened, I was transitioning into a new job as a wellbeing coach. I was also still working as a speech therapist and completing my MSc research project. What I really wanted was to grow my private coaching business so I could stop the speech therapy work. Life was in flux and everything felt uncertain. To cope, I was using an electronic diary and monthly wall planning sheets for Uni work. I also had a number of fancy diary systems and electronic habit trackers. But it was all too complicated and I felt I was letting myself down.”
When did you discover the Grid™?
“I came across The Grid in April 2020”
Grid™ a single place for everything!
“The Grid gave me one place for everything and I abandoned the monthly planning sheets and deleted the apps. Grid helped me:
- Manage the initial overwhelm.
- Stopped me from worrying. During COVID, I used it to stay connected with family and friends. It helped me check in on isolated and vulnerable friends.
- Grid made a complex week feel manageable. My non-routine household tasks went on it as did my home-school routines, my daily word count to finish assignments etc.
- Supported me in looking after myself and my health and wellbeing.
Right from the start, I loved highlighting what I’ve accomplished. It feels like a genunine honoring of the work. I prefer this to put lines through a never-ending to-do list. Grids helped me:
- finish and submit my dissertation,
- manage my ongoing professional development and learning,
- find a new job,
- develop my own business networks and opportunities.”
Tell us about how you Grid™ and what it has taught you.
“I have created a year Grid, month Grids, and at times week Grids. More recently I used a Grid to help map out managing a new project.”
- I grid seasonally and monthly.
- I use square ring bound scrapbooks with thick paper so the ink doesn’t bleed through and beautiful washi tape to divide my quadrants.
- I use a double-page spread with even quadrants and highlight with pastel highlighters.
- It’s important to me that the process feels creative and the product is something I want to look at daily.
- I love to grid on a Sunday and approach the job slowly and with pleasure.
Key Aha! Moments
I’ve gradually discovered that I am much more content when I set intentions using the Grid as opposed to habit tracking too tightly. Initially, in lockdown, I gained weight and my back suffered from more sitting and less walking. I have successfully lost it (and then some) and completed 16 weeks of back exercises using the grid to help set the course for the month.
My Grids have got simpler as I am learning that with some aspects of life, it’s OK to just keep pointing yourself in the direction of travel. Comparing what gets highlighted to what doesn’t has given me perspective and a sense of achievement. I’m learning to look back and appreciate how productive I’ve been, and I don’t feel like a hamster on a wheel.
My biggest challenge has been building up a home base I call ‘fun’ – I’d never seen this as something you might plan. But now I plan it, I get more! My life feels richer because of it.
Grid™ process builds self-worth and self-compassion
“Grid has helped me build self-compassion and a sense of self-worth. It has done this through drawing my attention to my more compulsive goal-setting tendencies. Grid has allowing me to calibrate my approach, and focusing attention on accomplishments instead. As a result, I feel my life is becoming more rounded. I can’t help but wonder if I’d need the year out from the MSc had I discovered Grid sooner.
On a personal note, I am now clear that when I have more fun, so does my family. We’ve created some really lovely family memories this summer. Grid made this possible by helping me make space for holidays and fun in my life map.”
Can you describe Grid™ in a single sentence?
Who else could Grid™ help in your view?
“What I tell others is that Grid a great tool for managing work-life balance. It will definitely help you stay sane when life is crazy. If you’re dissatisfied with your current planning tools, it may be something to try! It will help you if you tend to neglect self-care and personal development. And, it will lift you from feeling unhappy with the direction or balance in your life. In my view, Grid is an incredibly useful tool for building stress resilience and navigating complexity.
Given that I juggle employed work, study, private work, and parenting, I have probably put this method through its paces. I wouldn’t go back to any previous strategies because Grid really works and is keeping me happy, healthy and productive.”
About Abi’s coaching work
Abi is a wellbeing coach with a passion for helping individuals develop stress resilience and robust mental fitness. She helps her clients’ tap into their resources and identify concrete solutions for a better future. Her impressive toolkit of skills and qualifications is rooted in coaching, therapy, and positive psychology.
She has a particular interest in:
- utilizing applied neuroscience to support clients in building stress resilience
- supporting clients in building the daily practices that underpin inner safety and peace
Abi also enjoys working creatively with images and the outdoors to facilitate divergent thinking and combine somatic, emotional and rational work.
She has recently produced the first piece of research around the use of image cards in coaching. Abi divides her week between managing a wellbeing coaching program that is delivered in primary care settings, facilitating workshops and coaching private clients.
Start your journey to more balance today!
You won’t need much to get on your way to greater balance, health and results right away:
- An empty sheet of paper to draw a two-by-two Grid matrix – We call it a Day Grid.
- 1-3 tasks in each Grid quadrant. Explore our free Grid resources or join our Facebook Grid community or LinkedIn to get ideas and post your work.
- A highlighter to mark progress.
Thank you for reading. If you have a Grid story to share to inspire others please get in touch. Also check out our Grid retreat experience to dive into the work experientially in a small group.