In this article we look at solving Gen Z student struggles with the Grid time management tool. We invited our social media intern, Marie, to investigate what their key stressors are, to learn how we can help such students.
My motivation would fizzle out after a while and I’d lose track of everything, feeling overwhelmed at the thought of opening my bullet journal.Marianella Lopez, third year student
This is a shared sentiment among Gen Z students. Let’s get to know Marie and her own student experience before she shares the findings of this research.
One Student’s Experience
How did you discover the Grid method?
“I stumbled upon The Grid by absolute chance. A colleague of mine in a student project mentioned that she was working for MTC, helping them to spread the word about their powerful one-page organizational system, based on interest instead of ‘obligation’. That sounded like something that could be useful to me, so I Googled it.”
Is this your first time trying out a time management method?
“I’ve been using bullet journals since 2017, as this method was recommended by one of my lecturers when I started my foundation year at university. However, I struggled to remain consistent and to fill out all the pages that I prepared monthly. I tried to track my various habits, from reading to exercising, I even attempted to record the food I ate! But my motivation would fizzle out after a while and I’d lose track of everything, feeling overwhelmed at the thought of opening my bullet journal at all.”
Did you find the Grid method to be any different?
“The Grid presented a very compelling alternative, giving me a solution in just one page. What made it even more attractive is that I would have a clear visual cue telling me what I’m actually getting done and showing me what I’m neglecting, not just at work or Uni but in all aspects of my life. I was hooked.”
What’s happened since then?
“Life has a funny way of working out. Make Time Count offers student internships and an opportunity to intern for them as part of the Santander Internship Programme. I applied and I got the job! In my internship, I was invited to explore if and how the Grid could help someone like me: a student with an eye on becoming an academic, who is also an artist and has ADHD symptoms.”
“The CEO of Make Time Count, Dr. Magdalena Bak-Maier, who created the Grid invited me to start my internship by looking into this Guardian article, which presented the key struggles and priorities from Gen Z students of all nationalities in the context of the pandemic. Magdalena has been teaching the Grid method to PhD students and academics as well as professionals, including coaches, and was keen to learn if and how Grid could apply to students more generally. Here is what I found out!”
Gen Z student struggles and priorities center around mental health
Analyzing the interviews with Gen Z students, Marie discovered that the most pressing issue for them was mental health. This is very much in line with research from the Mind Health Foundation, the UK’s leading charity for everyone’s mental health. In their State of the generation report which suggests 5 key recommended interventions for youth that we think also apply to Gen Z:
- provide information
- support the development of skills to understand, talk and manage
- embedd the teaching in everyday experience
- ensure support considers their views and aspirations, i.e, make it relatable and personally meaningful
- build community.
As you will see below, Grid addresses 4 of these practices and with the help of our student interns like Marie, we hope to build a community of student Grid Ambassadors just as the one we have for academics, professionals, and coaches.
How Grid can support Gen Z students
Marie discovered that many of the challenges and concerns she found were true of Gen Z are also true for her. And having tried the Grid method herself, she believes Grid stands to make a big difference. Find out below.
Most Genzeers are worried about the rate at which industries are destroying the Earth and what this means for their future.
They are aware that we must act now if we want to implement change, and that can be a stressful realization to deal with.
But they also face other challenges including mental health, social inequality, and financial instability not to mention a deep desire to be students!
How can the Grid be helpful?
- The one page approach Grid takes to make clear what your priorities are works well here to ensure you too can pick a cause and do something towards it. Plus, you don’t need a new notebook, or an expensive planner, or an App, just a calendar and a single piece of A4.
- Grid gives you a way to set up a yearly plan that will help you work any goal into your life, work, self-care and career. With the Grid, you could easily plan the steps you need to take to become more environmentally friendly yourself, as well as any project or initiative you’d like to get involved with or support.
- Then it’s a question of taking concrete action which is was is often missing! The Grid helps you take those steps and document your progress without losing track of the rest of your life.
The other big preoccupation of Gen Z students is the increasing social inequality in our world, caused by the exploitation of people for profit.
Even though social inequality is a structural issue that needs everyone to help tackle it, the Grid can help you take practical steps to address this issue for yourself to start with, and hopefully then others as well.
How can the Grid aid people involved in this cause?
- Activists can often be at risk of burnout, because of the energy and effort they put into their cause. Gridding can be helpful because it invites you to stay balanced, by inviting you to balance and address all areas of your life. This is done with color and tracking on the same page helping you notice that your own self-care and personal life are being neglected earlier. By learning to nourishing yourself, you can then give to others and ensure your commitment to your community is sustainable.
- The Grid provides a framework that serves as a guideline as well as a checklist. The visual representation of the tangible steps you choose to take ensures you can implement the change you want to see. This means the Grid keep you responsible, while reminding you that You also matter – two very important aspects when it comes to bringing social change about.
At the time of the global pandemic, Brexit, and overall disconnection, financial instability is at the top of student’s worries.
From paying for their dorms to getting out of contracts as their studies migrate online, students have many financial concerns that are pressing on them now, as well as concerns around their future financial stability through employment.
Here too, Grid can help in many practical ways from helping to sustain responsible spending to ensuring students take concrete steps to develop and sustain P/T work without sabotaging their studies.
What can you do with the Grid about this?
- First, Grid offers you a visual means of exploring your options, the initiatives you might be able to get involved in and what actual tasks this may involve. With a Grid, you can identify the field that you’re interested in by seeing which tasks you tend to do first or more readily because they reflect your strengths and interests. If you are working multiple part time jobs, for example, you might notice you are more keen to complete tasks for one of your roles.
- Such visual insights of what is true for you can then inform your choices when it comes to exploring jobs and volunteer positions – tasks you can park in the Career quadrant of the Grid. As you complete these tasks, you are working relevant experience, knowledge and skills for your future career into the now.
- Grid helps you plan out all the steps you need to take in order to get a job that will reflect your aspirations, talents and needs. Breaking your goals into tasks can make drafting your CV, preparing an application and researching opportunities much more simpler than it seems. This is where your Work Quadrant meets your Career one: this is the magic you can achieve with one single page!
- After you have found a workplace or an internship, using Grids will definitely help you finish what you started! In this way, Grid helps you create healthy working habits by not overworking or procrastinating. A good work ethic can lead to better satisfaction for both you and any potential employer.
Social Life and Mental Health
Not surprisingly, the pandemic has hit young people hard when it comes to being able to keep up with their social life.
It’s also impacted them in terms of teaching and interactions with their lecturers and tutors.
Even though the restrictions have eased and we are finding more opportunities to connect with each other, it can be challenging to connect well, and to maintain a healthy social life while attending university, working, and doing life in general.
In turn, isolation often leads to poor mental health. Moreover, the decline in mental wellbeing is a consequence of an increasing sense of instability across all sectors of society, especially for Gen Z.
How can the Grid help you socialise and care for yourself?
- The four quadrant organisation of the Grid makes space to plan your personal life, and keep showing up to it. This helps ensure that you don’t take your family and friends for granted. Grid helps you balance the importance of these connections along with your work obligations.
- The Grid helps you build foundations for sound mental health because it invites you to self-care. Grid is a holistic method of organization that doesn’t only aim to help you get your work and practical tasks done. The Grid’s design emphasizes balance between personal development and calmness, between your personal life and your work, linking your present with the future you want for create.
Grid is built for developing and nurturing personal agency
Grid supports personal agency by inviting you to create a vision and a plan of action, broken into individual tasks so that you can stay motivated, move forward in small steps without getting overwhelmed by the future. This combined with the emphasis and practice to balance all that matters – family, friends, what you need, what needs to happen for school, and your future career growth means that Grids support you in staying on top of things, and managing your future piece by piece.
Thanks to its one-page method, the Grid offers you a clear view of where your energy is going, and where you’d like it to go. Whether you do day Grids, weekly Grids or create big vision plans for a year, or choose to combine them all, Grid keeps up with your reality. Day Grids, support agency and choice on a daily basis. Throughout the day, you can also decide what to focus on and get things done, all while ensuring that you advance your career and studies, attend to your personal life and look after yourself.
I honestly think that without such balance, mental health is impossible to achieve or sustain.Marianella Lopez, third year student
Marie’s final thoughts
“In essence, what my research and personal experience have taught me is that Grid is a very helpful tool. It is something you can use and modify according to your specific needs and what you’d like to achieve, be it big or small. Most of all, you can use it at a time in your life when you will most likely need confidence that you can balance an ever-larger life and multiple things you love and care about. It will give you structure and a helpful framework to set goals, then break these goals down into tasks to ensure your workload does not overwhelm you. It simply makes achieving your objective feel more effortless.”
“The Grid will also provide you with much-needed self-guidance on how you’re doing without judgment by giving you the opportunity to reflect on what really matters to you and how you’re making it happen.”
Next steps for you
If you feel ready to start Gridding and put to the test Marie’s experience, we have a free PDF Grid template for you, along with other resources.
At Make Time Count, we see young people being core to our society which is why we invest and support our internship scheme. We see your passion and we want to equip you with the tools to achieve results and cultivate a confident mind, while you do it.
If you know someone who could benefit from learning about the Grid, send them this article. Or, better yet – gift them the Get Productive Grid book so they can get started!
Our slogan is “Be well, do well.” We know it’s not always easy but we also know it is possible with good tools and support. We’ll help you get on your way.