Plenty to do even before the pandemic? Find out how Grid can help you cope better.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, stress, anxiety and mental health were a concern for some, as was burnout. Find out how the Grid method can help you:
- get through the pandemic crisis,
- lower Covid-19 stress and anxiety,
- safeguard you from burnout,
- protect your mental health.
1. Grid helps us develop and keep a routine
One of the key things that has disappeared while we attempt to work from home is a sense of a predictable structure or routine. For many people before Covid, there was a sense of order and organisation to the week.
Some of the people I speak to now feel completely disoriented. As we try to juggle work and family connection through technology, the difference between Monday at the office and Saturday at home is starting to disappear as are boundaries. While there is more choice and freedom to how we work at home we don’t always do better in the face of less structure. It seems that too much choice is paralyzing. In his book The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less American psychologist Barry Schwartz argued that eliminating consumer choices reduced anxiety connected with having to make a decision.
Grid helps counteract this dissolution of a structure by helping us remember work-life boundaries. By partitioning the day or week into 4 Quadrants with specific tasks and to-do lists, Grid helps us keep a peace of mind that we can stay on top of things even in chaos.
2. Grid helps us keep perspective
One of the key sources of angst, as we enter week four of quarantine and the social isolation policy is the uncertainty about what will happen next. When exactly will Covid lockdown end and what will follow. For many this uncertainly is incredibly stressful and with good reason. The economy, the job market, and the welfare of many stands to be deeply affected. Such fear, angst and worry, however, create paralysis and fuel depression.
Grid helps you turn this situation around and focuses your attention on what you CAN control in a systematic manner. Grid helps you create goals within each of the four Grid quadrants – life, work, self-care and career – and work steadily towards them. This means you take action within your current reality that is best aligned with the prospect of a better tomorrow as a result of what you do today.
Since the Covid crisis, a good number of people that learned the Grid method with me have been in touch to say how much it boosts their ability to cope. Grid’s focus on completion helps deliver tangible results even in the face of crisis.
3. Grid helps us focus on what really matters
One could say that the current crisis has done a good job of this but I disagree. While it is true that Covid is helping us clarify what is essential and what’s important, if you’re anything like me, your essential may end up being Pepperoni Pizza. One of the things I miss most is access to my local coffee shop and the ability to feel my neighbourhood. I didn’t miss my outside workouts half as much although I miss the fresh air and the waterfront.
An opinion piece in this week’s Financial Times weekend edition had one journalist bravely admit what many people are beginning to feel; the sudden rush to create family WhatsUp groups and hold video calls is proving exhausting and artificial because it is desperate. We didn’t crave this much contact before Covid arrived so why now?
Covid or not, what does matter and where Grid helps most is with something far more fundamental: constructing a fulfilling, balanced life that leaves us content, healthy, happy, interconnected and more resilient and prosperous. In challenging times we need this to help others cope better.
4. Grid focuses us on well-being
Not sure about you but even before Covid hit I struggled to fit exercise into my day. Running a business can be incredibly time-consuming. There is always more things to be done than hands available when you’re small. It was easy to let things slide. I invented the Grid to help me show up for myself and ensure things that mattered didn’t get deprioritised.
With Covid we’re all facing a physical healthcare crisis, an economic crisis, as much as a mental health one. The key ingredients for Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD) is an overwhelming experience in which we feel helpless. Many scholars and experts are already predicting a massive PTSD wave when the pandemic ends. Grid can help us take countermeasures. By training attention on self-care (Quadrant 4 in the framework), Grid conditions a mindset of looking after oneself through self-nurturing and self-caring activities.
5. Grid helps us stay organized
So much of responding to a crisis follows trial and error experimentation, eventual adaptation and hope for an end to the calamity. Covid however is not a hurricane that will pass as Ed Young, a science journalist writes in the Atlantic. Things will not be the same and we have to get organised and stay calm.
The Grid can help here. Making a Grid helps distil key actions that can happen, keeping us grounded and organised. It also helps us track progress and feel accomplished in the face of varying motivation. This too helps boost our sense of confidence that we will prevail.
It was empowering to review my Covid-19 response Grid (above) which I shared on LinkedIn in March to help my fellow colleagues look at the bright side of this disaster. It highlighted some of the opportunities I managed to identify in each quadrant for things I could do to help me prepare and respond better to these challenging times. I would never be able to organize myself this well without the Grid and I wish the same for you.
6. Grid helps us address an imbalance
So far I am definitely spending too much time on Netflix. I must confess it’s super entertaining and wonderful but I doubt it will leave me more employable when the crisis ends. We’re all prone to an imbalance somewhere. Some imbalances are more costly than others. One of the things I found while developing the Grid method which is most alarming is that once we get out of balance, it is really hard to get back into balance. This is partly due to the way habits are created from addiction to instant pleasure and how hard it is to change them. If you ever stayed up until 2am binge-watching a series you know what I’m talking about.
Grid helps us highlight imbalance early on and as we chunk activities into tasks catching yourself out in less helpfu coping strategies becomes easy and quicker.
7. Grid helps us try something small lowering the risks of doing nothing
One of the key surprises of the Covid epidemic for me has been to discover how many of my colleagues had never heard of Zoom or other online video conferencing platforms other than Skype. But my technological prowess over video conferencing was short-lived. Within two weeks I felt a novice as concepts like “breakout rooms” and “virtual whiteboards” I never used in Zoom were being thrown around. Not being the quickest on the latest trends – my life is too busy for them – I felt curious but also reluctant to explore. I could see the attraction but also felt it demanded time I lacked. With the Grid tasking method however, I could break this seemingly gigantic task into bite-size series of activities I could actually see myself complete over the next few days. I used the Weekly Grid project homebase to do this. Those tasks included:
- reach out to two colleagues who mentioned these new terms and ask for help
- schedule 1:1 catch ups about the technology
- lookup a Zoom tutorial and view it
- update my current version
- make a small experiment with room lock, whiteboard, and breakout room
- join a class on Zoom to see how a virtual course could be organized.
Maybe you can do all this without a Grid but I’d be still stuffed. As the famous Aesob’s fable Tortoise and Hare story illustrates, speed matters but determination and completion get the win. Grid helped me get there and it will help you also. Our MTC IT guru uses a software called Trello to organise work but I find another desktop application simply too much computer screen time.
8. Grid helps you discover what you enjoy and where your stretch zone is
While Covid is helping some of us rediscover the pleasures of baking our own bread to avoid extra trips to the supermarket or mindful listening to the birds, these are extraordinary times. When things eventually return to normal will mindfulness stay or will we rush out in haste to shop, eat-out and mingle with friends?
Grid helps us turn those accidental finds into new rituals and practices we will keep by training the habit of adding them to the next Grid. Things that we outgrow or which we don’t need any longer will disappear helping keep what we need. In the “Work” and in “Career” Grid Quadrants that’s very much about staying at the forefront of what’s needed. I can’t imagine a better way to stay current without exhaustively chasing trends.
9. Grid helps stretch our creativity and resourceful thinking
It can be easy to get lost in the grim present and immediate future of post Covid world. It is easy to feel helplessness, to panic or feel paralyzed by this crisis.
Grid can challenge this state and shift us into more resourceful thinking. Here are two examples.
- Imagine making a Grid as someone other than you. Maybe it’s your competitor, favorite client, best friend or old mentor. What would they do in each Quadrant? What would they focus on? Prioritize?
- Imagine changing or evolving one of your Grid Quadrants just a little. For example perhaps you consider retraining as a teacher or volunteer for your favorite charity? Use the Grid to explore the implications of this seemingly small change for all the quadrants. You may be pleasantly surprised. Such creative experimentation can be done as a safe thought exercise in just a few minutes with the Grid.
10. Grid helps us learn and appreciate we’re already doing well somewhere
Grid does not require a pandemic to help you see what you truly enjoy. In fact, it naturally reveals it. Week after week you can see through highlighted color what comes easy and what you avoid or procrastinate on. This helps you locate your strengths and natural talents as well as highlights where the roadblocks lie. Such intelligence is important under the pressure of Covid but it is indispensable to stay agile and on top of things on a regular basis.
While it is well established that we often don’t know our natural strengths because they come easy to us, Grid helps everyone recognize the green shoots or blooming spring of potential within them and fosters continuous learning and improvement. Get started with your Grid practice today.
Call to action
- Get on your path to explore the Grid™ with us in a step by step manner here.
- Buy the Grid Book on Audible or Paperback.
- Sign up to our online Grid training by joining our mailing list – see righthand side panel.
- Commission an online workshop for your institution or team.
- Share our work with others who may find it useful using the social media links below.