Is productivity without stress achievable?
We think productivity without stress is 100% achievable – with a little help from the Grid.
Being productive might be second nature to some, yet a complete stressor to others. How can you achieve high productivity when the word itself sends you into panic mode?
Ipek Beşik, a second-year University student, was finding it tough to be productive without feeling stressed. So she courageously took a step outside her comfort zone and attended one of our Grid Clinics.
We were curious to see whether a new productivity method could be the thing she needed all along, so we invited her for a review, two weeks into her Gridding journey.
I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stick to a plan, that I would fall short of the perfect person I should aspire to be.
Ipek’s experience of finding productivity without stress
How do you feel about being productive?
“I have a bit of a prejudice against anything created to increase productivity. To be honest, just seeing the word productive is enough to stress me out. I feel that our culture is replete with how-to guides; it seems like everyone’s trying to teach me how to be productive.”
Magdalena: Ipek’s comment is not unusual. This attitude to productivity, self-help or personal improvement is actually pretty common. And, it can really hold one prisoner because it establishes an internal conflict. One part resists the help while another part looks around and sees that getting more organized and productive does pay off!
“There’s nothing wrong [with that]. I want to fulfill as many goals as I can with my limited time and energy as much as everyone else. My problem with productivity guides is that they are never value-neutral. They make me feel bad for not becoming the perfect productive person of their mindset.”
Magdalena: You bet ya! We really get where Ipek is coming from. A great deal of the achiever mindset that is so celebrated in the western world and especially the US, can come across as a judgement on those who for one reason or another may have different aspirations or prefer to go at their own pace.
“On the other hand, I also know that life is too precious to live without intention. I find myself yearning for purpose: something to work towards and dream about achieving. When I lack this motivation I wake up in the morning with unexplainable anxiety: What am I doing with my life?”
Magdalena: Indeed! More and more, this existential question people used to ask themselves in their midlife, is popping up in our minds at all ages. Perhaps this reflects well on the fact that we’ve got enough time on our hands to even entertain the question! That said, questions around purpose, meaning, value are never small. So it’s important to keep them in mind gently while focusing on practical and actionable steps that create tangible results.
The latter side of you must have won, because you came to the Grid Clinic. Did it meet your expectations?
“When I joined the Grid Clinic with Magdalena two weeks ago I had no idea what to expect. I knew I was cynical of productivity gurus, but I also couldn’t deny that I wanted to be productive. I decided to join the one-and-a-half-hour Zoom call with an open mind. I’m glad I followed through with this decision.”
Magdalena: Hahahahaha! I never thought of myself as a guru. In my mind, this implies some elevated status and I’m way too down to earth for this. But, I have definitely seen how the results and progress we make can build our confidence and help us feel good, be in a good place to help others and generally keep us more resilient. This idea really inspires me to teach and share what has worked for me. I do accept it may not always work for others but that is something I leave for them to evaluate and decide for themselves.
How would you describe the experience you had at the Clinic?
“The Grid Clinic was a place where driven, ambitious people could reflect upon and share their thoughts on life, work, self-care, and career. It wasn’t a how-to-get rich or how-to-work-all-the-time seminar that tried to sell you an idea of the perfect person. I left the Grid Clinic excited to get to know myself, my daily habits, my motivations, [because] it asks you to understand yourself better.”
Magdalena: Wow! I could not have said it better. This is exactly the intention behind our clinics. Each person has their own path and answers. All we can do is create a space and sufficiently safe environment that can facilitate how these individual aspirations and challenges come to the surface and resolve.
I have plans for the future, and goals I want to achieve, and I’m very grateful that this is the case. The Grid helps me understand what part of life I’m spending time and energy on. [It] has helped me wake up to these realizations at a time I didn’t plan what I would be doing for lunch.
What did ‘being productive’ look like for you after the Grid Clinic? Did you discover anything new about yourself?
“After the zoom session, I immediately picked up a pen and paper. I made a simple one-week plan separating my responsibilities as well as my plans for fun with the four quadrants of Grid: personal life, self-care, work/school, career. I felt more relaxed just from this simple activity.”
Magdalena: This is what we see a lot with different people who discover and try out the Grid irrespective of their age, profession or life circumstance. Creating clarity and order decreases chaos.
“The past three months have been somewhat unpredictable for me. I left London, where I attend University, to arrive in Istanbul where my old life setup no longer existed. I started to live at my Dad’s apartment, which I hadn’t ever done before. On top of that, it was summer and after a long year of being inside, I wanted to be out with friends as much as possible. This meant that I had no routine. I was living day-by-day, which isn’t a bad thing at all. I’ve been quite happy the last few months. However, I started to realize this could only be a temporary state of being. I have plans for the future, and goals I want to achieve, and I’m very grateful that this is the case.”
Magdalena: It’s interesting Ipek mentioned a day-to-day routine and how this needs to link with our larger goals and aspirations which is what Grid allows us to do. I can get easily tempted to blow off work in favour of something else or even time to just be free and do nothing. In the past, this would leave me feeling guilty and bad. Grid helps me make time for creative pursuits, pure idling and rest so that everything I want and need has a place and nothing gets sacrificed or squeezed out. This is the essence of finding our most productive selves without the stress and guilt.
“The Grid helps me understand what part of life I’m spending time and energy on. It helps me see which category I invest most of myself in, and therefore, which category is lacking my attention. I’m the editor-in-chief of a University magazine, I have two long-term projects I need to complete for my last year of University and a whole life after University that I need to start planning. The Grid has helped me wake up to these realizations at a time I didn’t plan what I would be doing for lunch.”
Magdalena: Excellent! We want more students to discover the Grid so they can feel in charge of their lives.
You’ve been using the Grid method for two weeks now. What’s changed since?
“I reflected on how I had spent my time, and how I could spend my time in the coming weeks. A month ago I believed my current life was too chaotic to even bother trying to plan. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stick to a plan, that I would fall short of the perfect person I should aspire to be. However, the Grid has given me room to keep track of my life and my habits in a non-judgmental way. All I do is try to understand myself and see how next week could serve my purpose, dreams, and fulfillment more.”
Magdalena: Wow! I am super excited to hear this from Ipek! May this long continue.
Take control with the Grid and find productivity without stress in your own life
We are immensely excited about the progress Ipek feels she has made in just a fortnight! We feel that Grids are a powerful way of taking back control over your life in a deceptively simple manner, and her case is proof of it. Productivity without stress is possible!
At Make Time Count, we believe the Grid can help anyone achieve their productivity goals without stress. You can feel empowered, less anxious, and more excited about the present and the future. We invite you to have a look at how the Grid uses neuroscience to provide results and join us in using it with these free resources. Then, if you’ve got any questions, come along to your first Grid Clinic and get instant help from Dr. Magdalena Bak-Maier herself!
If you’re struggling with stress, why not browse our self-care articles? You can also sign up to the Make Time Count newsletter and receive monthly advice and inspiration from Magdalena Bak-Maier. Sign up via our 31 Days of Self-Care banner and get a month’s worth of self-care prompts into the bargain!