Being a student usually means worrying about your future and productivity. You are constantly living in fear of not achieving enough, which can quickly spiral into procrastination and work avoidance or manic work crunch. In either scenario, when you finally finish a project, you are often burned out because the workload exceeded the time available. Common side effects include feeling mentally exhausted and sleep-deprived – sometimes both. With all the things on your place, not to mention worries about the future, this is the last place you want to be but often, this way of managing work and studies is on repeat. You may wonder, what can be done about it? Quite a lot, actually!
What you’re probably looking for
- Guilt-free time off, with your friends or a new show to watch,
- Less overwhelming dread when you contemplate all the tasks you need to complete,
- A part-time job without leaving you exhausted
- Time for a hobby,
- A consistent workflow,
- A sense of purpose,
- Results and the pleasant serotonin-dopamine cocktail on a daily basis.
How to start?
We suggest that you ditch your cluttered To-Do list in favor of a one-page system that divides your day (or week, or month) into four quadrants. We call this system and method Grid. This brings a massive advantage to organizing your tasks because it helps you take everything into account at once: your personal life, self-care, studies and personal development or your favorite hobby, sidehussle or job.
How you can boost student productivity and still relax
The Grid method works by helping you break down your projects into bite-sized tasks. For each quadrant, I’ve written down my key projects as ‘homebases’ or little umbrellas. In my work quadrant, I’ve got ‘Intern’. My personal life is divided between ‘Family’, my best friend, and house chores. Your career/personal development homebase could include a foreign language class you’re taking or the creative fashion label you’re going to launch, and a self-care quadrant can range from ‘Yoga’ to ‘Lucifer season 5’.
The key to this approach are 2 things:
- Your tasks have to be doable in one sitting. If you plan on doing an essay for example, make your homebase be ‘this essay’ and list tasks like ‘essay plan’, ‘introduction’, ‘3 examples’ and ‘references’.
- Once you finish a task, highlight it. Crossing things off a list bring momentary joy, but imagine how good it feels to see bright cheerful colors showing that you’re on top of the whole agenda!
Productivity results from student that adopted the Grid method
Here’s what other students who now use the Grid method are saying:
Writing essays feels less robotic, and more connected. When I have to write my tasks, the Grid forces me to really engage with an essay plan because I can’t just write ‘do essay’ on my Grid. Following the “one sitting” rule is really helping me out.Second year student, 21
I enjoy studying more because I feel less stressed about doing enough. I feel better about myself when I see I’ve gone through 4 chapters in the morning, and I can actually enjoy my time off with my sister afterwards. My breaks feel earned and they fill me with more energy.Second year student, 20
How Grid Helps to Manage Mental Health
It’s hard to feel good about yourself when things don’t seem to line up well, day after day. I often feel like I’ve got no direction in life and this can bring me down. Feeling sad makes me push my tasks away, even those that I’d actually enjoy doing.
I found that making a 1-Day Grid in these situations pulls me out of this unhelpful loop. This way, my mind can see 2-3 clear tasks I can focus on and go do something far more useful than feeling sorry for myself. They can be simple things, like clearing up the dishes or making notes on one article for a school assignment. Also, when things are looking really bleak, I can ‘help’ my mind out of anxiety by actually enjoying one of my self-care tasks. With the Grid, breaks end up feeling more satisfying and guilt-free. That Netflix series is no longer time wasted but rather time needed to unwind. It’s part of my care so I can face the other tasks in better shape.
Overall, having a weekly or even termly framework of my tasks in Grid format is pretty lifechanging. I think the biggest impact I’ve experienced when using the Grid comes through these invisible ways a Grid takes things further over a simple disorganized list that’s dominated by urgency or a Bullet Journal which takes a lot of time to write but doesn’t always focus my effort on the actual task of getting things done.
Can you imagine how your own Grid would look like?
I recommend trying a 1-Day Grid experiment to experience the Grid difference and why I think it’s much more helpful than a To-Do list. Grab a free PDF Grid outline here.
If you’d like more support to create a consistent start that also helps you think about what you want to do with your life and what really makes you happy, sign up to the Grid Introduction Training Course; it’s got everything you need to start from ground zero to introspection worksheets and the neuroscience backing it up. I personally found it much more helpful and straightforward than dabbling with Gridding on my own.
Also, if you want to see how I’ve been gridding throughout Uni and get some inspiration, check out this blog article.
Lastly, please get in touch with us if you’d like to get involved with our team and help spread the word about Gridding!
Note: This article was written by Delia, a second-year University student who juggles full-time studying, part-time work and has many creative hobbies.