The Four Burners Theory - A Guide To Right Balance In Life

Darryl Bachmeier
Aug 7, 2019

We all have heard millions of advice regarding balance in life. Sometimes, it feels as if life is a tightrope, and we must learn the art of balancing on it.

So what’s the right recipe in life? How do you achieve the right balance between work and personal life?

With a limited span of hours in a day, we need to focus on work, career, health, family, and friends. The Four Burners Theory suggests the solution to this work-life balancing dilemma.

What is the Four Burners Theory?

The Four Burners Theory posturizes life as a stove with four burners. Each burner symbolizes each key area of life.

  • The first quadrant is the family.
  • The second burner is your group of friends.
  • The third burner is health.
  • The fourth burner is work life.

The Four Burners Theory says that you have to cut off one burner to be successful in life. Sometimes, you may have to cut off two burners to become more successful.

Also, you can maintain an equal balance among all the four burners to prioritize every aspect. But, you may not be 100% successful in that case in any one of the areas.

Sacrifice One For The Other

The hardest truth of life is that success requires sacrifice. You have to sacrifice one burner for the other to achieve maximum success in any one area. If success were so easy, everybody would be at the top.

The reason why everyone is not equally successful is that they did not make sacrifices.

Prioritize your burner

You must first decide which burner is most important to you. It’s all about setting your goals and priorities right at the moment. Sacrifice the ones you need to keep your most important burner running and be the most successful.

A woman may be in the company’s topmost position, going on business tours for weeks. But, at home, she may have to leave her baby in the company of the nanny. She chooses to sacrifice family time for her work and career, which is her greatest priority.

On the other hand, a single parent may devote time to his kids, leaving behind a lucrative job demanding more work hours.

This is the only downside of the Four Burners Theory. It makes you sacrifice one or two burners to get the best out of the most important one.

Can You Keep All The Burners Running?

But what if I want to keep all the four burners running at the same time?

You can also divide your time and energy equally in these four quarters. In that case, you may not be able to reach your full potential in any specific area. Accept that you may be less successful in any one key area, but you are at least happy and satisfied.

For instance, you can sacrifice a high-paying job requiring more hours with a career that demands lesser hours and pays you slightly less. Instead, you can use this time to prioritize your health or relax with friends and family.

However, you must follow certain tactics to reach this ideal balance between the four burners.

Outsource the burners

If one of the burners is too demanding, try to outsource it so that you can devote time and attention to the others.

Work is one of the most demanding burners of the four, followed by family. Outsource these burners to save time for the others.

Hire a babysitter to take care of the kids so that you can use some personal time for a dinner with your wife or an outing with your friends.

Wise time management

Another way to keep the four burners running without complaint is to manage time wisely. Make the most out of the time allotted for something. Plan ahead to multi-task and save time for other things on the checklist.

  • Utilize the time in the car if you are not driving to read the book you have been planning to. You can also use it to finish off a few tasks to save time.
  • Wash off the dishes while the soup is brewing to save time in the kitchen and dedicate an hour to your daily exercise.
  • Work without distractions to complete a job in 3 hours rather than spending 4 hours with distractions and breaks.
  • Play badminton or cricket with the kids to club the health and family burner together. While you spend time with the kids, you are also going through intense exercise.
  • Work for an hour or two more at night or the weekend and take some time off for a long due house party with your friends.

Break life into seasons

If it is too difficult to focus on all the burners at once, break life into seasons. Do not give up a burner or two altogether for the sake of the rest. Work hard in your youth to save up for the future. Balance work and concentrate on your family when your children are young. Dedicate time to revive friendships when you hit middle age.


To sum up the theory, you have to decide your priority and sacrifice the other burners to concentrate on your prioritized one. Otherwise, learn to manage your time, plan, and utilize it wisely to keep all the four burners on smoothly.

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