Four Furnace Theory: Work-life balance

Ever wished that a day could be longer than 24 hours? Do you always feel like you are being chased by time: going to bed with a long “to-do list” in your head, always busy and exhausted because of the never-ending to-do list? Are you looking for a way to balance work and personal life? The following article hopes to share those concerns with you by analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of the Four Furnace theory in order to provide useful advice to help you optimize your quality of life.

What is the Four Furnace Theory?

The four burners theory is understood as: Imagine that your life is like a stove with four furnaces. Each furnace represents an aspect of life: the first is family, the second is friends (or social relationships in general), the third is health, the fourth is work. The Four Furnace Theory states: “To be successful, you must turn off one of the four furnaces. And for great success, you have to turn off two of the four furnaces.”

This means, the so-called "life balance" is never really perfect, you can hardly take care of your family, have time with friends, and take care of your health. personal, while at the same time focusing on work. But maybe, if you can do everything at the same time, the quality of each thing will hardly be good because you are distracted and spread too much.

Therefore, in order to improve the quality of work and life, we need to have a correct understanding of "balance".

Redefining "balance"

“Work-life balance” is a topic that has been discussed for generations. Yet, out of nowhere, people put these things in a balance – with work on one side and elements of personal life like family, relationships, hobbies and interests. personal development on the other side – as if these were two separate and unrelated parts. However, in reality, these are two inseparable parts in each person's life. Therefore, a 50/50 work-life balance is impossible. Instead, compromise is a much more realistic and viable way to improve quality of life. Oprah Winfrey once said, “We can have everything, just not all at once.” 

“Balance” is an individual norm and each of us does not necessarily have the same threshold of equilibrium. If you are a workaholic, you feel that working makes you happier than meeting friends, watching Netflix, then go for it. Balancing is not about “weighing” everything, but about “weighing” the things that are really important to you.

What advice does the Four Furnace Theory give us?

1. Accept that life is a series of imperfect choices

I have a friend who is an office worker. However, a long time ago, my friend no longer found joy in her current job, but at the same time did not have the courage to leave. She repeats the same tasks every day like a machine, works overtime until late at night, takes work home… and is always scolded by family, friends, and lovers because she doesn't have time to spend with them. My friend's life was not only boring but also extremely stressful. These things made her go from being an open person to being withdrawn and avoiding fun.

She confided these things to a tech brother, to whom he replied: “There is no perfect time in life to start something. In the places he'd worked before, he'd never been able to do what he really wanted to do. So he started a business, although he had never had that intention before. He has more worries now, doesn't get as much sleep as before, but in return he gets to work on projects he enjoys – small but not stereotypical. There is no happiness without trade-offs. If the current balance and stability doesn't make you happy, why are you afraid to change?"

2. Maximum expansion of limits

According to Mark Forster, an expert on shared time management methods, make a limited to-do list instead of a long list of tasks. In it, it is necessary to set detailed and clear goals and try to ensure progress. If you focus on progress, it will be easier to keep track than just focus on the destination. 

At the same time, focus is the key to making the most of the time you have to get something done. Try to eliminate distractions for you: social media, gossip from colleagues and factors related to the workspace… Instead of thinking of yourself as a "victim" of time, Take the initiative, maximize the limits so that in a short time you can work most effectively and optimally.

3. See life according to each "season"

The Four Furnace Theory recommends that you "break down" your life into seasons, or rather, phases. Instead of looking for perfection every now and then, why not try focusing on a few pieces at intervals? In other words, the priority of the four furnaces will have a change in your life.

For example, the age of 20-30 is the time when people do not have children, it is easy to focus on career and physical training. At this time, the two furnaces "work" and "health" burn the most. A few years later, when they have a family, they can burn smaller, while the "family" furnace needs a strong fire. A few decades on, when the family has settled down, you want to rekindle the friendships and business plans that were shelved. At that time, the "friends" and "work" furnaces burned more strongly.

Weaknesses of the Four Furnace Theory

The biggest problem with the Four Furnace Theory is that it always feels like you're not doing what you're capable of. Because it is a fact that many people, when they hear the Four Furnace Theory, will react to find a way to "circumvent the law". Is it possible to both succeed and keep all four furnaces burning? Can I combine two furnaces into one? For example, a group of family and friends (instead of going out to gather, you invite them home and organize gatherings with family members...); or a health and work group (you can go to the office by stairs instead of the elevator every morning to take advantage of exercise…).

The Four Furnace Theory helps us pick priorities during certain stages of our lives, but it also reveals its weakness: life doesn't always go according to our plans. Life is inherently impermanent and finite, so we cannot predict anything. Maybe, when we're young, we try to keep the stove "work" burning without caring, caring for our family, or nurturing our friendships. When you achieve a glorious achievement at work, unexpected events and illnesses make your loved ones no longer available, and your friends turn their backs on long-term separation (and there are many other situations in the world). others that we cannot foresee). At that time, even if you put all your heart, spent all your time trying to turn up those furnaces that had been "turned off", you could not do it anymore. So, instead of turning off one or two stoves completely for theoretical success, many people think they can keep them burning.


Every theory or philosophy of life and work has its pros and cons. Having an overview of them will make it easier for us to flexibly adapt to our personal life, thinking and work conditions to change our own lives. 

On our journey to explore the Four Furnace Theory to find work-life balance, we need smart work methods. If you want to keep all four stoves on fire in your life, try to experience a focused and productive day with the task management tool Tictop.

With Tictop, you can make the most of your working day by focusing on completing the planned tasks. Tictop is integrated with many smart features to help you easily exchange work, create short meetings, manage document files, images ... at a single software without being distracted by a series of notifications. from different social networking sites when assigning and accepting jobs. Tictop wants to optimize your working time as much as possible, thereby helping you to "turn up" the remaining stoves completely. Please visit to learn more about Tictop!

Tictop team.