Make 2018 The Year You Shift From Drained To Energised: Discover The Alchemy Of Making Time Count

get productive gridLast year I received a desperate call from the CEO of a successful tech start-up. “Help me not to go over the edge, Magdalena!” he pleaded. “I fear I’m going to burn out and harm myself.”

The CEO, we’ll call him “Dave”, is under 35 and absolutely brilliant, but his talent is also his Achilles heel. Dave has a personal life and a girlfriend. He works out and is close to his family. He seems balanced on the surface and yet, as his work intensified and his company prepared a public offering to raise millions of pounds, Dave turned into a dead soul. He no longer enjoyed time with friends; he sacrificed sleep and worked all weekends. His mind and kind heart that had helped fuel his drive and passion for the business was now killing his body.

Anna, a single mother to two children works long hours in a corporate job. She is determined to afford a “good life”. But she seeks my help because she’s spotted a dangerous trend. Her life has no time for anything fun and her career has stalled. Her precious evening time with children often goes to the child minder so she can keep up with her work that she is increasingly resenting.

Dave and Anna are not alone. Many executives and professionals across different industries share a unifying characteristic: constant battery of expectations and unrelenting pressure to do more at the expense of their personal lives and well-being.  Unless they learn to use their brains and bodies correctly, they risk hurting themselves and others around them.

For many working people with good salaries, time has now become a highly prized commodity.  There is always too little of it. And this creates stress! And stress drains the body of energy. It makes the brain go all loopy. Did you know that as we enter mild panic and fear the muscles tighten, breathing become shallow, and the body reads a cue that we should fear something bad? This loop in turn shuts down the higher cortical areas of the brain from being creative problem solvers.  Before we know it, we’re victims to habitual fear based behaviours feeling our legs are lead, our bodies powerless and there is no way we can cope with what’s on our work plate. Some people faced with this situation will push their mind to work harder. This can work in the short term, but research shows us that frequent use of our willpower – where we force an action – are damaging and unsustainable as a strict diet regime. If there is no better reason to take a break from work, it is simply to reset the brain.

But how do we tear ourselves away from work when it’s the brain that has got us glued to it?

As a neuroscientist and coach, I believe that our minds are our biggest aids or our biggest foes. It all depends on how we learn to use them. After all, we come to the world with incredibly powerful equipment that scientists still don’t quite understand. Yet, when did we get a class on how to look after our mind or even how to use it? This partly explains why changing behaviour and shifting bad habits is not easy but with a bit of help and motivation very possible.

I developed the Grid to help me stay on top of all my commitments and ensure that I don’t drawn in them. The Grid helps you balance your key priorities and goals in a way that leaves you achieving more whilst feeling refuelled.  When I shared it with my clients they loved it.The Grid is easy to use, intuitive and fun.

A quick introduction to the Grid

Fulfilling lives and careers thrive in balance. They occur when we keep a focus on and attend to four key domains:

  1. Life
  2. Self-care
  3. Work results
  4. Career

Imagine a two by two matrix where each of these four domains has a home. This is the Grid.

Quadrants 1 and 2: Life And Self-Care

These two domains concern life at home and the people you love, including yourself. Working too much often creates lack of balance here because work steals time away from these areas. The result is that life and health suffer. Also, when these domains have little going on in them, it is easier to use work to fill in the gap.

Quadrants 3 and 4: Work Results And Career 

In today’s world, people with too little to do are hard to find.  However, having given many seminars to Business School Alumni, I have noticed that too many working professionals get caught up in work and forget to make time for building their career. This is why in the Grid the two are separated. It is important to pay attention to both generating results and the impact these results have on your track record, legacy and future work prospects.

You can give the Grid approach a try with this simple daily habit. As you start each day, ask yourself this question:

“What exactly will I do today to attend to:

  1. my life (home, partner, kids, family and friends, my community),
  2. me (what I need to stay in top form),
  3. my key responsibilities at work, and
  4. my career?”

If you want to break free of working to deadlines and recover your brilliance sign up for my Grid workshop or commission a Grid session for your organisation.

Learn to Grid and make 2018 into your best year!

The Get Productive GridDr. Magdalena Bak-Maier is a recognised thought leader in the field of human empowerment and leadership development, a neuroscientist, well-respected coach and author, as well as MD of Make Time Count Ltd.

 Book your place on the ‘Grid’ workshop here.

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 And if you wish to transform how your life works enrol on the life-changing global Da Vinci inner leadership journey. This unique and original programme has been featured in the ‘New Year New You’ 2018 January 6 Guardian Supplement and Psychologies Magazine Dossier October 2017 and you can start today from the comfort of your office or home.

 © Magdalena Bak-Maier 2018

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