Academic burnout can be hard to deal with and adds more unwanted stress. While there are many resources on how to spot burnout, we are working to help you prevent it! We achieve this with an approach called the Grid. Below, we’ve invited Rui Lorenço, academic and researcher, to walk us through his Gridding process and show you his results.
Rui has been using Grids to manage his time after he attended one of our Academic Leadership Development Worskhops. The four Grid quadrants offer him a no-nonsense way of structuring his:
- research work,
- house chores and life committments,
- career development – Rui is attending several conferences,
- time off to pursue long distance running.
Eliminating burnout risk with one piece of paper
Rui found his Gridding practice to be deeply grounding. Making grids helped him relax and feel in control of his entire agenda. He lists his goals and big events for each of the four quadrants (life, self-care, work and career) on a bigger Monthly Grid. Then, he uses Weekly Grids to actually get things done, and the way he goes about it is by keeping everything in one place. You can see an example he shared with us below. We’ve asked Rui why he chose to write everything down by hand:
I still prefer having the paper, not depending on any device or on having my laptop switched on. If it’s 10pm, I’m going to bed and I remember “Oh! I should do this,” I will just write it down. It’s also much more flexible: you can draw!Rui Lorenço
“I think it also helps me process the writing,” he says. Our minds are much better suited for remembering and connecting with handwritten tasks. By writing them down in a map, we’ve literally kicked off a process for our minds to build a relationship with the task and start to build a road towards getting the task achieved. Hence, we encourage you to also start Gridding by picking up a real pen and working on paper. Once you master the method, and if you feel you really want to grid on a device such as a tablet, you can easily switch to it.
Below, you can hear Rui’s opinion on why managing your time with a paper-based method is the way to go.
A preventive solution for academic overwork and burnout
As an academic and researcher, Rui names a big problem in his lifestyle. Work can often take over our whole being without us realizing it. And, once we do, it’s already too late because we are burnt out. This used to be the norm for him, too:
Normally I’d only make a list of 6 things to do, without a deadline. It would only be work! The Grid helped me to have, at the same time, other things that are also important.Rui Lorenço
Since he started Gridding, Rui has been able to run consistently and reach his 30k goal, he’s attended conferences to further his career, and he’s had time to do his work without feeling drained. Having a timeframe and several relaxing activities in-between his work tasks really paid off! Our Grid method encourages this ensuring better utilization of our overall physical, emotional, and mental resources.
Identifying results with the Grid
We’ve asked Rui: “How do you really know that this is actually helping you?”, to which he replied:
I was able to do more things, I was more organised. Just having these compartments in a chronological order was really helping me. Before, I was having lists without priorities, no timescale there. I was selecting [tasks] randomly and pushing things away.Rui Lorenço
You can see some great Gridding from his personal agenda below. Notice how recurring tasks are drawn up in boxes – this can help you keep track of habits or tackle big tasks (reading a textbook might look like 6 boxes for each chapter, for example).
If you’re a young professional, PhD student, or a researcher like Rui you will no doubt need a system to keep you organized, on track and calm! Countless research shows that our performance is far better when our nervous system is calm. Grid helps you feel back on control and on top of things. We invite you to explore the Grid method like Rui did.
A great way to start is our Grid Introduction Training – this is an immersive, self-paced online course designed to walk you through the Grid basics, help you set excellent foundations with helpful worksheets, and get you on your way to managing your aspirations in a creative, yet organized manner. We’ve got a blog that details the course here.
If you’re more comfortable with reading or listening, Dr. Magdalena Bak-Maier’s Get Productive: Grid book is another great way to get started with the Grid method. Both the course and book are suitable for first-time Grid users, but each has unique exercises and different content.
Let’s face it. It’s never too late or too early to focus on being well and doing well. At Make Time Count, we’re dedicated to helping you with that. The rest is up to you!
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