The Four Quadrants Method Can Help You Prioritize Tasks And Be More Productive

One of the hardest parts of living in today's society is finding balance. Whether it's balance in social media use, eating habits, exercise, or work, it almost feels like there are only two polar opposite choices: you go overboard or do nothing. Work-life balance, in particular, is a struggle for many. Many of us have bought into the hustle culture rules of always being on our A-game. To achieve our professional goals, we've made numerous sacrifices in our personal lives. We pushed ourselves beyond what seemed possible, dealt with burnout, and doubled down on work again. For years, most of us lived like this. But then the pandemic happened and something shifted culturally.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many realized there's more to life than work. Suddenly, people strived to shift their work-life balance to make room for personal happiness. But due to years of overworking, many struggled to set work boundaries at home. If you're one of these people, the Four Quadrant approach might help you be more productive while keeping things balanced.

This method was developed by Steven Lee, a venture partner at NGVP, and he shared his approach with Forbes. His mindset can help you find balance, clarity, a strong sense of purpose, and increased productivity. More importantly, it allows you to see what you really want to achieve and find the time to accomplish it. But the best part is that it's not a long-winded process. 

Start by dividing your tasks into quadrants

Before using the Four Quadrant method, you need to list everyday tasks, ranging from chores to work duties, mental and physical goals, and social responsibilities. Don't worry if you can't remember everything because quadrants can work as prompts, too.

The first quadrant is: "Demanding Things We Love." In this category, put all the things you've wanted but haven't accomplished yet. Ideally, it should be full of things that are challenging for you. The goal is to make it worth the trials and tribulations. Think of all career and personal goals you've never pursued because they seemed too out of reach, and add them to this quadrant. Things in this quadrant should be your top priority because they'll bring you purpose, rally your actions toward accomplishing your tough goals, and help you achieve maximum satisfaction in life.

The next quadrant is: "Non-demanding Things We Love." These are low-effort things that help you find some joy in your life. This category has room for everything from playing with your dog to socialization to hobbies. In our busy lives, it can be hard to prioritize them. But these activities must take some precedence. You should incorporate at least one of these activities into every single day. Without these simple joys, life can't be fulfilling and balanced.

The Four Quadrant approach helps save energy for better things

The third quadrant is: "Demanding Things We Hate." Think of some of the most pressing everyday tasks that you hate doing. This can be chores, responsibilities, social obligations, and any other joyless duty that you do for the sake of getting them done. Once you're all finished, go down the list and think of ways to minimize their impact on your life. Remember you're not trying to cut these essential tasks out of your life, you're finding solutions that make the experience easier. For example, if you dislike cooking on busy days, start meal prepping on the weekends.

Finally, we have: "Non-demanding Things We Hate." As the name suggests, these are the non-essential duties that can possibly be avoided. If you find that many still have to be completed, try to make these tasks more enjoyable. Find ways to speed them up, or do more non-demanding things you love before doing these tasks. This quadrant gives you the chance to break bad habits and helps you identify areas where you're expelling unnecessary energy. Once you understand these areas, decide if you want to eliminate these tasks or delegate them to someone else. 

Overall, The Four Quadrant approach can help you find a better balance in your existing to-do list and help you approach how to handle each task life throws your way.