The Four Burners Theory and Finishing Out The Year Strong

Ever since I heard of the "four burners" theory from Chris Guillebeau, I've thought that I should only have four major "things" going on in my life at once. The theory states:

“'One burner represents your family, one is your friends, the third is your health, and the fourth is your work.' The gist is 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."

Since I left my corporate gig last year this "four focus areas" theory has kind of led my train of thought for how many things I let into my life. I always make family and friends a priority, so I think of it as four places for everything else in my life.

The items have changed a few times (specifically with one being filled in by "travel" or "moving" for six of the last eleven months).

Finishing Out The Year Strong

As I look back at my annual plan for "growth" in 2012 I am happy with the progress I've made this year, but want to finish out the year strong. 

Here are my "four burners" for the end of this year in order of importance. (Feel free to share what your "four burners" are in the comments below this post.)

  1. Super Secret Think Traffic Project: announcement coming in late September
  2. Make It Rain: launching on September 18th, 2012
  3. Health: both continuing to eat healthier and be more physically active
  4. Jen Wojcik Photography & Caleb Wojcik Films: my wife's full-time gig and my "creative" outlet

More of This

There are four months left in 2012 and with what I want to accomplish professionally and personally I am going to need increased amounts of:

  • Focus: I need to decrease what I waste time on and have less total number of tasks everyday so I can put more quality into the most important tasks.
  • Time Spent Working: this is a sacrifice I am willing to make to put my family in a better financial position in the future. I'd rather work many more hours a week now and be "set up" for the future then to keep scrapping by. This is obviously a decision that is jointly made with my wife about the expectations for how much I need to work, what that means for nights and weekends, and how I will still make time for relaxing.
  • Creation Time: I do my best creative work (writing, planning, etc.) right after I wake up. Ways I can optimize this are to: 1) plan for what I am going to start the work day off with the day before 2) avoid doing mindless things to start the day (email, tw, FB, etc. can wait!) 3) exercise either first thing in the morning or when I hit a wall mentally 4) take a 20 or 30 minute nap in the afternoon 5) go for a walk or stretch to end the work day while planning the next day

Less of This

I will also need decreased amounts of time spent:

  • Consuming: I need to read less business non-fiction books. I don't really have a problem of reading too many blog posts that I find through Twitter or anything, I just like to read business books and I'll need to cut back on that a bit the next four months.
  • Watching: Less Netflix, less Lynda.com tutorials, and less video podcasts like Foundation. These things mostly take place in the evenings, post-dinner, but I think I'll need to be working more in the evenings than usual to end the year.
  • Multitasking: Write the one thing down and only do that. I have been using TeuxDeux.com as my "getting s*** done" system since April and I am loving it. I still have problems focusing on only one thing at a time though.
  • Distracted: Turn off the Internet more. Go other places to work more. Turn off my phone more. Single-Task philosophy.

Your Turn

What are on your four burners for the rest of this year? What things will you have to sacrifice spending time and energy on until next year?

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