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…

Ask a Performance Psychologist

A few months ago, I mentioned that my sister, Dr. Elizabeth Boyer, had launched Northwest Performance Psychology.

As you may imagine, the two of us tend to have a lot of spirited discussions about the differences between the theories of performance psychology and how they apply in high-pressure workplaces such as technology companies.

Well we’ve decided to expand the conversation. We’re going to start a little series where we look at topics relevant to high performing professionals, and have a little Q+A. I’ll ask most of the questions, but we also want to open it up to others.

So if you have questions about peak performance, business coaching, competitive environments or anything about performance psychology, feel free to email me. We’ll weave the the questions and answers together in a coherent way.

Looking forward to your questions.

What is Performance Psychology?

Russel Wilson has one on staff. Most college and pro teams have several. But what does a Performance Psychologist actually do?

Elizabeth Boyer, PhD, describes it this way:

  • Develop strategies to build consistency and satisfaction in sport and life
  • Identify solutions for challenges and concerns.
  • Get support to successfully navigate set backs, injuries, and transitions.

You can learn more about this field by checking out her site, Northwest Performance Psychology.

 

“I Have Front Row Seats to Kobe’s Last Game And…”

Well, I didn’t have seats to Kobe’s last game, in the front row, right next to the Lakers bench. But this woman in the photo below did. What would you do with such a prime location for such a milestone game? I’d probably do one or more of the following:

  • Watch intently
  • Take photos
  • Take video
  • During commercial breaks, post to a social channel or 12.

Now let’s see what this lucky person was doing. By all means, blow up the photo for a better view.

Kobe Bryant Last Game

What could should be doing? What’s your guess?

  • Checking Facebook
  • Calling an Uber so she can get out before the crowd
  • Texting her friends
  • Checking stats

Your thoughts?

Guest Post – The Referee’s Perspective: Sometimes We Know What We Are Doing

Editor’s Note: Garrett Galbreath is a high school basketball official in Washington State and a Board Member for the Snohomish County Basketball Officials. Since I am someone who has ALWAYS treated sports officials with the greatest of respect, and NEVER engaged in any kinds of disagreement with one rearding the idiocy of their calls, laziness on the field, or out and out incompetence, I wanted to get an opinion from his side of the whistle. Why do some parents, coaches, and players insist on arguing with these highly trained and well-meaning people, simply for screwing up a call on the field? This is the 1st post in the series of, “The Referee’s Perspective.”

As high school basketball official, I have heard just about every criticism a coach, player or parent can offer. Sometimes I register the good advice, “Watch the hook on the post!” …and consider it the next time I am in a position to observe post play.

garrettgalbreath_officialBut most of the time, we are bombarded with simple and contradictory instructions for how the game should be officiated. One minute its, “Call the foul!” The next, “Let them play!” What’s an official to do?

The answer is more nuanced than most people think. My general philosophy on officiating is broken into three mandates:
1) Keep the players safe
2) Enforce the rules
3) Consider the game

These (personal) rules are listed in order of importance, but numbers two and three blur a bit in many situations.

Some Examples

Parents Yelling 1Consider a typical 5th grade game. If we were to enforce all the rules in the NFHS rule book, the ball would never cross half-court because we would call travel violations on every possession. Nobody wants to sit through that. Instead, we have to balance where the rules must be enforced and when to let them slide for the sake of the kids trying to learn the game.

As officials, we try to balance the rules vs the game by looking at advantage/dis-advantage. Did a player gain an advantage by violating a rule? No? Maybe it’s best to let it go so the game continues.

Coaches Yelling 2We need to apply the same logic in a high school game. Although our tolerance for violations narrows a bit, we still have to consider the skill level of the players. Our 3A state champion team is probably going to have a different skill level than a rural 2B team with 6 varsity players. We have to figure out how to manage that gap in skill sets every single game.

So to you parents pleading for a foul at one end of the court while imploring that we let them play at the other end… Most of us saw the same thing you saw. By the rule book, you might be correct. We could make you sit through an hour of inbound passes.

Parents Yelling 2But remember, youth and high school sports are for the kids. In addition to being competitive events, they are teaching opportunities and a way for your kids to gain confidence. Our decisions might be different than yours, because we are working hard on blending a need to enforce the rules of the game while considering the quality of the experience.

Please include any questions in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them.

One Human, One Block, One Year: An Idea for Solving Homelessness

So file this under pie in the sky, hopeless ideas that have no chance of coming true.

Unless, that is, one person tries to get it going.

NPR published an interesting article the other day about Homelessness in Seattle. One stat stood out: “According to the latest count, in January, more than 3,700 people live on the streets of King County. The number of people sleeping outside shot up by 20 percent in just the past year.”

3,700.

Via NPR

That number sounds enormous when you are thinking about how a government agency could fix the problem. And the government has proven it can’t do it. Here’s another stat from the article, one that should make you pretty mad. “All told, under a 10-year plan put together a decade ago by a public-private partnership called the Committee to End Homelessness, roughly $1 billion has gone to the cause.”

$1 Billion spent in 10 years. 3,700 homeless. At $100 million spent per year, we could just pay every homeless person an annual salary of $27,000 and just close down whatever services are trying to solve the problem.

But 3,700 is also a really small number.

King County has 2.044 Million people. For every 1 homeless person in Seattle, there are 550 non-homeless. This is the math I use to think there’s an opportunity at fixing this problem.

One Human, One Block, One Year
The idea is simple philosophically. Homelessness stops being a macro issue that we need “leaders” and “organizations” to try to solve. Homeless people need to stop being nameless, anonymous shadows that we can easily ignore on the side of the on ramp.

Let’s make homelessness a neighborhood cause. And not just a neighborhood cause, but a block cause.

I’m going to guess that almost every city block contains the following things:
– A house with an unused shed, mother-in-law attachment, garage or other structure that could be fitted with a simple bathroom. (And if not, a group of 20 people who’d split the rent on an apartment for someone.)
– At least one if not more people who hire part-time help.
– Someone who is or knows a psychologist, therapist or life coach.
– A teacher.
– A retired person willing to occasionally give someone a ride.
– Someone who’d spring for a bus pass.
– Neighbors with extra clothing they can give to a specific human.
– People who will donate money to make sure someone they know is well fed.

When you think of the idea that 550 people working together could help a single person get off the street, it seems almost mathematically insane that we have homeless people in the first place.

Now yes, I know that there are gigantic holes in this idea. Addiction, dementia, stubbornness, safety. These are all issues that would have to be dealt with. Then you’d have to get through the government red tape of permits, zoning, etc…

But doesn’t it seem doable? Doesn’t it seem like if everyone who lived on your block assembled for two hours one Sunday afternoon, you could come up with everything you need to get someone a home, a part-time job, a wardrobe, counseling, a bus pass, some education and tutoring, addiction treatment if necessary, and most of all – friends in a neighborhood. Friends who want to see their guest succeed and move on to successfully re-start their own life in 12 months.

That’s my utopian idea. One human, being helped by one block of neighbors, for one year.

Bridging the Social Media Ocean

When I chose to go back to Grad School at the UW  in 2004, I made a conscious decision that after I graduated, I would say “Yes” to every opportunity to learn more that would ever be thrown at me.

In the first few years, saying “Yes” meant speaking at the Undergraduate Marketing Club or Young Entrepreneurs Club, or meeting with VCIC students. That evolved into judging the UW Business Plan Competition, taking on interns for projects and guest lecturing from time to time. Before I knew it, I was teaching  real classes, trying to implement the parts of business school I benefited from the most as a student, while shedding the parts that I saw no value in.

And so here we are today. I just finished up the first part of  the two days I have the privilege to spend working with MBA students visiting the UW from Lucerne University in Switzerland. I wish someone would have asked 4 years ago if I ever thought I’d be teaching students who live 8,000 miles away. I wonder what m response would have been.

My discussions with them today reminded me about something I think proud Seattleites often forget. Namely, there are way more people in the world that don’t share the every aspect of the Northwest’s rain driven, liberal thinking, social media embracing, technology-centric, environmentally-maniacal, privacy shunning state of mind.

For example, other countries haven’t necessarily adopted the idea that every ham sandwich we eat should get its own Instagram photo, or why we would want our boss to know what articles we are reading.  The idea of building personal blogs to gratify our egos and promote our social importance isn’t necessarily a worldwide phenomenon yet.

But what is important is that globally, smart people want to learn more. Whether we are American, Swiss, German, Japanese, Korean, etc… there are people who want to understand how others think. They may not understand why, and they may not want to emulate it, but they want to understand the “how.” And the more people we have around the world who want to learn about how other cultures act, work, play and live, the better chance we have at finding a common ground.

Moral of the story: Always say yes to anything you can learn from.  You’ll never regret it.

Tossing 15 Things a Day

My friend Liz told me that she has a pact with herself. She throws away 15 things a day. It could be 15 pieces of paper, 15 paper clips or 5 shirts and 10 paper towels. It doesn’t matter. 15 things go into the trash (or charity bin).

She said it’s not that hard to do, and less painful than a whole day of spring cleaning.

By the end of the week, she’s tossed 105 things.
By the end of the month, 450.
By the end of the year, 5400.

Maybe I can’t do 15, maybe I can only start with 10. But I am going to start to do that today.

The Power of “Yes”

 

I could have you click over to Seth Godin’s blog, which I strongly suggest you add to your list of daily reads. (You can even have it delivered via email, it’s that easy…)

But in case you are just browsing through and don’t want to click a link, here’s some wise words for the day.

Seth GodinOn behalf of yes
Yes, it’s okay to ship your work.
Yes, you’re capable of making a difference.
Yes, it’s important.
Yes, you can ignore that critic.
Yes, your bravery is worth it.
Yes, we believe in you.
Yes, you can do even better.
Yes.

Yes is an opportunity and yes is an obligation. The closer we get to people who are confronting the resistance on their way to making a ruckus, the more they let us in, the greater our obligation is to focus on the yes.

There will always be a surplus of people eager to criticize, nitpick or recommend caution. Your job, at least right now, is to reinforce the power of the yes.

Seth, if you want me to pull this down, just say the word. I just felt like sharing it with my own tiny little tribe.

Perfection

20 years from now, anyone who is a Mariners fan will remember how they watched Felix Hernandez dispatch the final 3 Tampa Bay Rays to pitch the 1st perfect game in team history. This video from the Jackson General, the Mariners AA team, is tough to beat.