In part one of this post, we present the basic decision flow from the perspective of a single person. In part two we’ll add a layer for applying this as a team (couple or family).

Workflow diagram for basic 4HWW process

If you’ve delved into GTD, this type of simple decision-making-aide will look familiar. The most obvious difference is the first question point: “Will I enjoy this?” GTD, helpful though it may be, is focused on productivity and efficiency. In fact, this GTD-based chart puts you right on track for the “deferred life plan”. 4HWW principles push towards enjoyment. Yes, you want to be productive, effective, and efficient; nobody wants to waste time. The key is to focus that effectiveness towards a goal of spending your time doing what you want to do, rather than simply cranking out more billable hours and deliverables for your boss.

It’s simple and seemingly-obvious (just like the GTD charts), but it’s had not-so-subtle effects since I’ve started applying it. Every time I’m presented with some activity– whether by invitation from another person, or by random thoughts of my own– I mentally run it through this decision process. Sometimes I’m surprised by the result.


  • You have to find a balance that ensures you’re meeting your required TMI (target monthly income). If you follow this chart diligently and don’t have the cash to back it up, you could end up saying “yes” to a whole slew of enjoyable but cash-draining activities.
  • Be assertive in actively finding activities- don’t just wait for assignments and invitations. This applies to work, but even more so to enjoyment. Next time you find yourself saying to a co-worker “yeah, we really should go fishing one of these days,” get out your calendar and propose a date!
  • “Income generating” needs a qualification: sometimes this should be asked more generally as “will this produce a desired output.” That output is not always cash. The best example is exercise- you may not enjoy it, it doesn’t directly produce income (for most of us), yet end result is desirable from many perspectives.
  • Finally, a chart this simple obviously can’t handle every scenario that hits you. Your mileage will definitely vary.