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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 www.tictop.vn to learn more about Tictop!

Tictop team.

Plan your day on Tictop

Have you ever spent hours in the morning thinking about what you need to do today?
Have you ever fallen into a state of “overload” when there are too many things to deal with and the wrong priority!
Tictop will help you plan your work, arrange your work according to the priority that needs to be solved.
To start a productive working day, you need to know what tasks you need to do today? What tasks need to be completed?

1. Start of the working day

You can start calculating the working time of 1 day by clicking the 'Start working' button. Here you can see your current work count, the number of tasks completed the previous day, and the number of tasks that are in the past due status. From there, you will have a broader view of your workload and basically determine what work you need to complete today. Next, select the button to go to the screen to select the tasks. plan to do today.

Once you have an overview of your workload, you can choose what to do today. Or add a new job with the + Create Job button. Select Next to go to the screen to select the tasks you plan to complete today. If you don't select any, you can start the task right away. However, Tictop encourages you to choose a status for your work, which makes it convenient for people to exchange work with you and helps you set goals for what tasks to complete!

Organize your tasks and choose the tasks that need to be completed during the day. You should prioritize completing tasks with a “Urgent and Important” priority. Once done, select the Start working button. You will have a to-do list arranged in order of priority. And especially, the working time on Tictop will start to be counted.

2. Plan your work

Your to-do list will be displayed and sorted by status and priority.

On Tictop, there are 9 task statuses:

  1. Created: Jobs created but there is a plan for this job
  2. to do: Things you will definitely do but haven't done today.
  3. In process: Work in progress, need time to finish it...
  4. Finished: Completed jobs.
  5. Waiting: Jobs waiting to be approved, or waiting for time to do.
  6. Draft: Drafted tasks.
  7. Duplicate: Tasks created but overlap with other jobs.
  8. Archived: The tasks that need to be archived.
  9. Cancelled: Jobs you don't do and want to cancel.

Tasks with status Draft, Duplicate, Archived, Canceled will be hidden on your to-do list the new day after the status is set. Accurate task status settings make it easy to see which tasks you need to get done first. Store the to-dos, don't forget the work.

On Tictop, there are 4 priority levels of work:

  1. Urgent and Important: Tasks that need to be completed urgently and important, need to be prioritized first.
  2. Urgent need: Tasks that are urgent but not important can be prioritized when there is time.
  3. Important: The work that is important but not urgent, can be scheduled to be completed later.
  4. Thoải mái: Những công việc không có yêu cầu về thời gian, có thể hoàn thành bất cứ lúc nào.

Priority on Tictop is built based on Eisenhower matrix. Helps you distinguish priority with each task more clearly. You can learn more about the Eisenhower matrix to better understand its importance in task and time management through the article.

Through the above article, Tictop hopes to be able to help you manage and plan your work more efficiently and flexibly.

Tictop team.

Tictop tells you how to listen empathically: Effective human resource management skills

As Millennials (GenY generation) hold management positions, are looking for ways to better connect with employees and promote efficiency at work, empathic listening becomes a skill of top concern. . By analyzing and providing "exercises" to help you perfect your empathic listening skills, the following article hopes to provide a method to help managers improve performance and quality of work.

What is empathic listening?

Empathic listening is attentive and interactive listening that aims to understand a speaker's feelings, in addition to their ideas and thoughts. The distinguishing feature of empathic listening is that it provides encouragement and support to the other person, rather than providing prejudice or judgment.

Empathic listening skills in the work environment are understood as the way that managers give full attention when absorbing ideas from employees and understanding their emotional experiences. From there, creating a communication space where employees feel safe being themselves, more comfortable and open. That will be the foundation to build an ideal working environment, thereby helping to improve work efficiency and quality.

The importance of empathic listening skills in human resource management

In the workplace, most leaders are active talkers and employees are passive listeners. However, if managers know how to empathize with their employees' thoughts and sharing, they will notice positive changes in their work. Empathic listening thus helps build trust and loyalty among employees. At the same time, this skill helps eliminate the fear of being wrong in employees, making them more comfortable to come up with more creative and optimal suggestions.

Empathic listening helps to open up discussions, thereby solving problems such as misunderstandings in assigning and receiving jobs, team conflicts or fear of making mistakes when giving opinions… A good manager Empathic listening with employees will create a positive cohesion in the team. When the understanding from superiors is spread, it will be transmitted to the entire organization helping to improve team spirit as well as build unity in the team. Organizational attachment makes them feel that their success and the success of the organization are closely related, motivating them to find new and best ways of doing things.

In addition, empathic listening helps managers expand their horizons, thereby making more accurate decisions. When you're open to listening to what's going on around you, you can spot the tiniest signs of the actual health of your team. From there, find solutions to overcome problems or offer more optimal development directions for your organization. At the same time, listening to what's happening can provide great clues to what's to come. So, daily empathic listening can be one of the key elements to a proactive strategy.

Author Stephen Covey once wrote: “Most people listen not to understand, they listen to respond.” Therefore, in order for conversations to become deeper, thereby helping to improve work efficiency, empathic listening is a skill that human resource managers need to practice.

Ways to listen empathically to become an effective manager

For all employees to understand the actual work and development goals of the team. Khai Ta - COO of KAMEREO gave an interview at Vietcetera with the question: "-Do you have to manage many departments with one hand, do you have any effective communication secrets?" The secret, he says, is simply making sure every member of the company's team is aware of what the company is aiming for, and that every job they do makes an important contribution to that goal. Therefore, every time a challenge comes, the whole team can easily and quickly come up with a solution that is in line with the company's direction.

It makes no sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do.” A good leader is one who sets strategy and goals and then empowers everyone to contribute. Allow the speaker to reaffirm or expand on feelings by providing summaries or open-ended questions. You can start off by saying “As far as I understand your words…” or “Do you mean…” Or you can help the other person reconcile their feelings by saying something like, “You seem to be having a very hard time. sad and angry, the problem is…” or “That must have been a difficult situation? "

Place trust when assigning work to employees, thereby giving them opportunities to cultivate and develop themselves. Even if you don't agree on how to do it or aren't satisfied with the results, you need to avoid immediate controversy. First, trust that the other party has his own reasons, then listen and ask questions to understand the context and get the necessary information. In case you disagree, start with the question “What makes you think/do that? ” and talk about points where you agree with them first to avoid putting the other person on the defensive. Give employees the opportunity to express their full potential, think, give them some freedom to decide how to handle their work. Let's encourage and encourage them in all situations, even when faced with difficult situations.

Understanding the challenges of managers in perfecting their empathic listening skills for employees, Tictop brings a modern and smart work management solution. This software helps the team understand the development plans and goals as well as build a clear and effective working process. With the optimization of the functions and the interface, you will easily exchange ideas, easily assign, receive and manage the daily tasks of each member of the team.

Empathic listening is a process of learning and improvement, and we are here to work with you to find the most effective way to work. Please visit www.tictop.vn to see detailed information about Tictop and experience the effective method of working today!

Tictop team.

The Eisenhower Matrix – The US President's Effective Time Management Method

You think you are very busy, but are you really? Try the following method of organizing the time of the late US President Eisenhower.

Eisenhower  was the 34th President of the United States, serving two consecutive terms from 1953 to 1961.

Prior to becoming President, Eisenhower was a 5-star general in the United States Army, served as Supreme Commander of the Allied European Forces during World War II, and was responsible for planning and participating in the battlefields of the United States. North Africa, France, and Germany.

In addition, he also served as the President of Columbia University, becoming the first Supreme Commander of NATO, and somehow he still managed to find time to pursue his hobbies of golf and oil painting.

Eisenhower has an uncanny ability to maintain his productivity not just for weeks or months, but for decades. For that reason, it is not surprising that his methods of time, work and productivity management have been studied by many.

His most famous productivity strategy has been named the Eisenhower Box (Eisenhower Matrix) and it's a simple decision-making tool you can start using right now.

The Eisenhower Matrix: How to Become More Productive

Applying Eisenhower's strategy is actually very simple. Make a list of activities and projects you have to do, including those that are not important but take up your time at work. Then sort activities based on their importance and urgency

1. Urgent and important (tasks that need to be done immediately).

2. Important but not urgent  (tasks scheduled for later).

3. Urgent but not important (the task should be handed over to someone else).

4. Neither urgent nor important (mission must be eliminated).

The great thing about this matrix is that it can be used for both large projects (weekly plans) as well as smaller ones (day plans).

Here is an example of an Eisenhower Box for a day:

Distinguish Urgent and Important

“What is important is often not urgent, and what is urgent is often not important” - Dwight Eisenhower.

Important are activities that have results that will lead us to achieve our goals, whether they are personal or professional activities.

Emergencies are activities we often focus on because they require attention to the consequences of not taking immediate action.

Isolating the difference between them once is quite simple, but doing it continuously can be difficult. The great thing about the Eisenhower matrix is that it provides a clear framework for repeatedly iterative decisions. And like anything else in life, consistency is paramount.

Here are some of the takeaways from using this method:

Remove before optimization

There is no faster way to do a job than to do nothing. That's not a reason to be lazy, but a cue that motivates us to make tough decisions and eliminate any tasks that don't help you accomplish your tasks and goals.

Thông thường, chúng ta lấy năng suất công việc, quản lý thời gian và sự tối ưu hóa như một lý do để lảng tránh những câu hỏi hóc búa: “Liệu tôi thực sự cần làm việc này?”.

It's a whole lot easier to stay busy and tell ourselves we just need to be a little more productive or “Stay at work a little later” than it is to suffer the frustration of quitting. Go to the pleasant work you're doing, but it's not the most productive use of your time.

As Tim Ferriss once said: “Busy is a form of laziness – Laziness to think and act indiscriminately.”

Eisenhower's method is particularly useful because it forces us to question whether an action is really necessary, so that we gradually move towards "Abandoning" the task rather than repeating it over and over. unconscious way. Honestly, if we simply eliminated all the things that waste our time every day, we probably wouldn't need any more advice.

Will this method help us achieve our goals?

One final note: It can be difficult to eliminate time-wasting tasks if you're not sure what you're looking to do.

The following two questions can help clarify the entire process behind Eisenhower's method:

1. What am I working for?

2. What are the core values that guide my life?

Answering these questions will help us to clearly categorize each task in life into different groups. Deciding what to do and what to let go becomes much easier when you have a clear understanding of what is most important to you.

The Eisenhower Matrix isn't a perfect strategy, but it can be a useful decision-making tool, helping to increase work efficiency and eliminate activities that waste time and don't get us done. its goal.

Source: cafebiz.net