Four Burners Theory – Why you should take note?

Have you ever tried cooking on a four-burners stove? I mean four dishes concurrently , using all the burners. I have tried, and the results were not good.  At least 2 of the dishes got burnt or under cooked or lost flavor, just because I couldn’t juggle them all at the same time.

Another question. Have you ever felt jealous or wonder-stuck  about your friend or colleague, looking at some facet of their life?  Would you exchange your soul to get the kind of life they have?

I have toyed with the thought. After analyzing the lives of a lot, I concluded that I would never want anyone’s life regardless of how glamorous it may appear from outside.

Here’s my reason. Mere observation of one facet of one’s life is too misleading and presumptive to conclude that all the other critical aspects of their lives are great. It is also statistically impossible to be productive and successful in all areas of life.

The Four burners theory, helps to sort this issue out. What does it say?

Imagine your life represented as a stove with 4 burners, each representing four major quadrants of your life. The four burners are – Health, Work (Career), Friends and Family. The theory says that 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.

If you think it is absurd, look deep in to your or anyone’s life. It is extremely likely, that they are either average or about average in all 4 burners. Sure enough, they may lead a normal life, but may not be exemplary in any one area. There may be sparks of achievements in a few areas, but likely  not consistent  in all four areas.

If you focus on achievers and celebrities, you can notice that they focus on any one or two things and are extremely successful at it. When I say successful, I mean they really make a mark and attain positions of extraordinary eminence and get recognized widely.

However, if you carefully observe their candid interviews, you can also notice their expressing that their lives are not where they like it to be.  In fact, they may even feel jealous about “normal” people.

I have come across many friends who are extremely successful in career and finances — yet wanting in either family or health or friends. Friends who have great families, and health, yet unhappy about their career and friends. Many combinations. I am sure you can find examples in your circles too.

Even celebrities are not immune to this theory. Take the life of Steve Jobs – he focused on his work maniacally. Got Apple to the Top Spot, yet his family life or health barely had much to write about.

Work Around?

There are only a few ways to work around this theory. For e.g. you can decide to delegate or outsource most aspects of your one or more quadrants and juggle the rest, to succeed. However, there are limits to delegation. You can’t delegate or outsource your health to someone else and hope to be healthy.

Similarly, you can’t delegate some of your core family responsibilities (barring a few things) and hope to be successful about your family.  Further delegation requires wealth and/or position, which is not something that everyone is born with.

The other way is to time-slice is the four areas and just like a computer processor, try and process one area at a time, or a phase of life. This is not a practical recipe. For instance, you can’t work in a certain phase of life, and hope to recover your health at later point in time. You can’t focus on family, and delegate work to a later phase of your life.

Another way is to lead an essential life and reduce your expectations of what is essential in all the four areas of your life. That way, you keep the number of goals to a minimum, stay focused on those. Feel happy about achieving or having achieved them.

In other words, do a few things, but do them well — to your heart’s content in as many areas.  Simplify your definition of success, get critical things done and let the process do its magic. This is my favorite, mainly because it is appealing, simple and works.

Do you agree with this theory? Which burners would you cut off?  Do you think you can beat this through other ways? What are your thoughts?


A Simple Productivity System to help you achieve Big Results

ZTD By Leo Babauta

Introduction to Zen to Done – A Simple, Effective Productivity System

I’m not sure if you noticed this news. I felt heartened by the recent bill to ban work emails after work hours by New York City Council. A hefty fine for employers who violate this.

“While technology has increased access to people and ideas, it’s also made it possible for employees to be on-call 24/7, says the author of the bill, Rafael Espinal, representing the 37th District in New York City.

We need to establish clear boundaries for employees so they can maintain a healthy work-life balance and live without fear of retaliation for not answering work communications after work hours,” he added.

Continue reading “A Simple Productivity System to help you achieve Big Results”

How to Type Less but Write More Content

Typing Less Writing more

Typing efficiently can be rewarding

If you are a knowledge worker or writer or a software programmer or just about anyone having to do a lot of typing in your computer, you may or may not have realized this; but you are subjecting yourself to a lot of stress,  even injury on your fingers, hands, elbows, and shoulders.

Regardless of whether you are a professional typist or an amateur, you can save plenty of time, money and energy by minimizing the keystrokes. Continue reading “How to Type Less but Write More Content”

How to improve your Productivity by focusing on its Opposite?


The importance of Rest and Recovery in Productivity

Certain things are counter-intuitive but true. Here’s an example. Your ability to become unproductive plays a critical role in improving your Productivity.

Building Productivity is like building any muscle. Think how you grow muscles. You stress the muscle through an exercise of some form (weights, Yoga, Pilates or any other physical training). Then follow it up with a period of recovery.

If there is no recovery after a period of stress, you can hurt your muscles and cause physical damage. It is similar to stretching a rubber band without contracting it. It breaks after a certain limit.

Continue reading “How to improve your Productivity by focusing on its Opposite?”

How to easily Collaborate using Microsoft Sway for free?

Microsoft Sway

Microsoft Sway is a free Collaboration tool

Sometimes I get a vague but great idea that I want to get it out of my head and share with others, even when it is not fully mature.  The best way to share and collaborate is through a combination of text, image or video,  in the form of a storyboard.

It isn’t that easy — without expensive software. Continue reading “How to easily Collaborate using Microsoft Sway for free?”

How to Complete Your Big Projects when you are unclear?

How to get Big Projects Done

How to get Big Projects completed?

Do you have Dream Projects in mind?  Those Projects you are deeply passionate about. The ones for which you wish you had the time, energy and money; potential game changers, that can transform your life in a major way.

It may be that you want to pursue a long-term course, that may land you a better job. Or a project that may produce a steady passive income stream for you, or a Small Business that you want to launch on the side, or a house that you want to build, a Blog you want to Create, or a Book that you want to Publish.

You may be inspired to plunge in and execute your project without planning and due-diligence. Your burning passion may give a false sense of security and potential success.

Your friend or neighbor may have pulled off such Projects. Note that we have plenty of biases spinning in our head. Hence it is easy to overlook the planning and preparation that went behind such success.

You vacillate between your desire to complete and your anxiety that you may fail. How do you decide? Continue reading “How to Complete Your Big Projects when you are unclear?”

10 Research Backed Ideas to make you Consistently Productive

Consistent Productivity

How to be Consistent in your Productivity?

There are times when I feel totally Productive. My Productivity is in top form. Great ideas emerge from nowhere. My writing is effortless. Words tumble out of my keyboard like Popcorns popping out of a primed oven, in a consistent manner.   I pleasantly surprise myself by breaking my previous records in writing faster, smarter and better.  I call it my Zone or flow state.

But here’s the full disclosure. I don’t get to enjoy the Flow state frequently. There are times when my Productivity dips, I tend to lose focus, tune out, and the quality of my work suffers. Have you ever encountered this? Continue reading “10 Research Backed Ideas to make you Consistently Productive”

The Power of Habit – Why we do what we do in Life and Business

The power of Habits

Book Review – The Power of Habit – Why we do what we do in Life and Business – by Charles Duhigg

Habits are the foundation of a successful Life

Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life. They are intricately linked to Productivity and Success. If we learn to cultivate good habits, we can easily power up our Productivity and Success.

However, habit formation strategies are neutral. Which implies that we are as likely to develop bad habits, as much as good habits.

Developing good habits and replacing bad habits with good habits are both challenging. But many chronic overeaters, problem drinkers, and obsessive shoppers have successfully remade their lives – in short periods of time. How do they do it? If they can, can’t we? Continue reading “The Power of Habit – Why we do what we do in Life and Business”

How to Overcome Productivity denting Behavioral Biases

Think Clearly without biases

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion. – Dale Carnegie

Behavioral Biases Can Stifle Productivity

One of the strangest things about humans is that we are full of biases, fallacies, and illusions — yet, we are either ignorant or in denial about them.

We feel so strongly about our ideas and convictions, that we feel things can’t be any other way. We believe that we are perfectly rational – always. Continue reading “How to Overcome Productivity denting Behavioral Biases”

How to prioritize your tasks for Maximum Productivity?


“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” — Eisenhower

The Prioritization Problem:

Productivity is all about being and doing the essential.

However, the number of tasks that you may have to do at any given time, can get overwhelming. Here are some of the typical things you may encounter when wrestling with a growing to-do list: Continue reading “How to prioritize your tasks for Maximum Productivity?”