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The Four Burners Theory: The Downside of Work-Life Balance

Options to maximize all areas of life:

  1. Outsource Burners: you can keep the burner running without spending your time on it.
  2. Embrace Constraints and try to be effective within those limits. Well designed limitations can improve your performances.
  3. Break your life into seasons: You don’t have to give up on your dreams forever, maybe you need to let go of something for this season.

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The Four Burners Theory: The Downside of Work-Life Balance

The Four Burners Theory: The Downside of Work-Life Balance

https://jamesclear.com/four-burners-theory

jamesclear.com

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Key Ideas

The Four Burners Theory

Imagine that your life is represented by a stove with four burners on it: family, friends, health, your work.

The Four Burners Theory says that “in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful you have to cut off two.”

Life is made a tradeoffs

Everyone has constraints on their time and energy. And every choice has a cost. You cannot have it all. You have to choose. You can be mediocre in everything, or excel in some and ignore the rest

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When you learn to set boundaries based on your various priorities and obligations, you’ll feel in control and at liberty to make decisions that work for you and the kind of life you want to lead — not the kind of life you’re supposed to lead.

Your Boundaries With Others

By sharing some details of your boundary practice with the people in your life, you give them an opportunity to support your goals instead of constantly tempting you with invitations that threaten to step on the lines you’ve drawn.

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Personal Operations Category
  • Task management. This one is most commonly taught and includes systems like Getting Things Done.
  • Knowledge management. This is embodied in systems like productivity educa...
What's on your plate

Prioritizing tasks at work involves getting all your tasks and commitments in one place.  Take a piece of paper and make a list of everything you need to get done. Questions to help you:

  • Do you have commitments to others like your boss, partner, kids, or clients?
  • Do you have anything you need to submit? 
  • Do you have any financial tasks that need to get done? 
  • Do you have any planning that needs to get done? 
  • Do you have any administrative tasks? Legal, insurance, staffing, or training?
  • Do you have any professional development tasks that need to get done? Training, areas to research, skills to develop, books to read or study, or classes to take?
Brainstorm your goals

Find your goals. Without them, it is impossible to prioritize your tasks. Try to set 90-day goals, which is long enough to make meaningful progress. Questions to prompt goals:

  • What’s the one thing you could do that makes everything else easier or unnecessary?
  • If you were giving advice to someone else in your position, what 1-3 things would you tell them to focus on?
  • What do you want to have accomplished over the next five years?

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Cut out low-value activities

Many of us are working longer hours than we should be just because we are wasting time on low-value activities.

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Schedule recurring social activities

Having an active social life is crucial to your health. People who isolate themselves from others could increase their risk of death by about 50 percent. 

If you have a busy life, schedule recurring social activities with your closest friends, monthly.  Plan your work schedule around your social calendar instead of the other way around.

Learn to cope with stress

The key to finding the balance between work and health is learning how to cope with stress.

Get in the habit of stepping away from the stressful situation for a few moments to calm down and collect your thoughts: step away from the computer or spend a few minutes walking outside.