The Quadrant of Happiness To-Do List Matrix

It’s a new year. New resolutions. New plans. New ways to get everything done.

I’ve tried every to-do list, prioritization plan, productivity model, and 4-hour workweek on the planet. And whiel some work better than others, I’m still searching for the perfect method. To do lists are a personalized phenomenon – what works best for a Sagittarius will never work for a Taurus.

So I’m sharing my new model – a self-designed, structured but flexible layout for optimizing your time and energy. I call it the Quadrants of Happiness. If you share any of my tendencies, feel free to use it.

Overall theory: To-do lists are designed to make you do the things you don’t really want to do and make you feel bad about the things you do want to do. So, naturally they can’t work. So i said to myself, why not build a model where you are rewarded, not penalized for doing things you like to do, in the same way you are rewarded for doing the things you need to do?

Summary: In my Quadrants of Happiness model, we’re going to break our giant list into 4 overlapping quadrants.

  • In the Northwest quadrant, we have the things that make us money. This is our FINANCE Quadrant. This includes but is not limited to work related tasks, getting your taxes handled, reading about bitcoin, selling y9ur bitcoin, client pitches, updating your LinkedIn profile, etc…
  • In the Northeast, we have the things that provide us personal improvement and connections with other people. This is the GROWTH quadrant. This could be contacting old friends, reading a book, taking a class, going to a networking event, drawing a picture, writing a blog post. Anything that improves your mind, body or spirit.
  • Back over in the Southwest, we have the things that we need to do but seem like meaningless tasks. This is our RESPONSIBILITY quadrant. These things are as menial as folding your clothes, to taking the time to research and hire someone to look at your heating system. They aren’t fun, but NOT doing them causes more stress than just getting them out of the way.
  • Down in the Southeast, we have the area that is the most fun. This is the RELAXATION Quadrant. Now, in a normal list, it’s hard to justify watching 30 minutes of your favorite Netflix show when there are still 32 unchecked boxes. But a healthy and relaxed mind can help you get everything else done faster, and with a better attitude.

Daily Activity: Most normal people have about 16-18 hours of waking hours to accomplish everything in these quadrants. An ideal balance would be to break these quadrants into equal sections of time. Unfortunately, for most people, the FINANCE quadrant is the most time consuming.

Thus, once your tasks are listed in the quadrants, my model is to break all your tasks into 3 categories, “MUST IMMEDIATELY DO,” “MUST DO,” “WANT TO DO.” No matter how many tasks you have, you can only assign the 2 most important tasks in each quadrant to the “MUST IMMEDIATELY DO” section of each.

After that, you split the remaining tasks in half. One half to the “MUST DO” and one half to the “WANT TO DO” in each quadrant.

Now start your day and accomplish the MUST IMMEDIATELY DO’s for each quadrant. If something in your top two falls out of a normal time line, then scheduling it and committing to it counts. For example, if going to the gym is part of your MUST IMMEDIATELY DO’s but you can’t go until 7:00pm, you can schedule it. But if you don’t go, then you better start bringing your gym clothes to work and find someplace to go at lunch.

Once the MUST IMMEDIATELY DO’s are done, surf your way at your own whim and fancy through the MUST DO’s. You won’t get them all done, but it will make for easier list creation the next day, and you can promote the WANT TO DO’s if need be.

The Result: If this works for you as it works for me, you’ll do all the things you really need, and you won’t feel anxious about writing thank you notes to your relatives instead of looking at Google Analytics and evaluating the nuances of a $100/day AdWords campaign.

I’ll add some visuals to this, but on the top of my quadrant today in “RELAXATION” I said I needed to do some creative writing. I forgot to add that I needed to generate images as well. Maybe tomorrow…

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