Sometimes the Universe sends you messages to help you get what you want and for whatever reason, I didn’t spot this one.  In fact, I ignored it, clicked past it, didn’t want to receive it.  Then finally, when I was desperately trying to find a book to listen to- it popped up in my ‘recommended for you’ list. 

I played the sample and realised I had heard it before so I must have checked it out at some point, still feeling unconvinced but somewhat compelled, I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a go.

But wow, do I wish I’d taken the hint sooner- I loved it. 

Emma Isaacs has an impressive personal story

She has taken her business from a small startup to becoming a very successful female entrepreneur.  Emma steps you through her up and down journey.  She drops endless pearls of wisdom on every topic from parenting, productivity, running a business, to playing the bigger game.  It’s an autobiography but also a business guidebook filled with tips and inspiration you can apply in your own work and life.

A part of the book that really resonated with me was around the idea of scarcity.  If your familiar with Brene Brown’s work she goes into detail on this in her book Daring Greatly.  Brene discusses how many of us live in a constant state of scarcity. 

We wake up and immediately feel like we don’t have time to do all the tasks on our list that day.  We spend the day trying to get everything done and then get to bed feeling like we haven’t achieved enough.  Then we feel that now, we don’t have time to get enough sleep before tomorrow starts. There’s never enough time, money, sleep and we’re not where we planned to be at this point in life. Time is running out… sound familiar?

Four Burners Theory

Emma describes a concept called the Four Burners Theory, which is another way of looking at the work-life balance issue.  Basically, you divide your life into four quadrants.  Each of the four burners represents one quadrant.   I combined this theory with the idea of ‘scarcity’ and it’s already helped me gain some relief from the pressure of ‘doing, being, having enough’. 

Emma describes the four quadrants. In each quadrant you have

1. Family   2. Work.     3. Health    4. Friends. 

It’s been said that if you want to be successful you have to turn off at least one of your burners. If you want to be super successful you need to turn off at least two.

Emma’s worked out that if she can focus her energy on two quadrants i.e. Work and Family she feels like she’s getting somewhere.  She’s  taking good care of all that is needed in these two areas. 

But if she tries to carve her time up between three areas then it all starts to fall apart.  Basically, the concept is that you if you have your time and focus mainly on two areas of your life you’ll feel like it’s all working. 

If you stretch yourself across three or four quadrants this results in the scarcity mindset and overwhelm.

“You can have anything but not everything” David Allen

I’ve given it a great deal of thought and when I paired back to focus 80% of my time on Family and Work, things ran a lot smoother.  I’m on a health kick currently.  I’d pushed out to be focused on Work, Family and Exercise and you know what, all areas suffered. But it’s about finding the all elusive balance.  What works for me is a little more fluid week on week depending on what’s going on.  For others it may be more rigid.  I’d be interested to know what you find?

At the least, I’ve found it a really useful way to be more aware of how I’m spending my time. If I’m feeling overwhelmed and in scarcity I reduce one area try to only focus the bulk of my time on two. 

Thanks, Emma. Awesome advice!

Emma has five kids which in and of itself blows my mind!  She’s also the CEO and Founder of Business Chicks.  The Business Chicks philosophy is that they exist to help make the world a better place for women- how awesome is that!  To be honest there is so much sound business advice in this book that you really should read it.  

To summarise the areas she dove into that really helped me are:

On productivity

“Just get it done’.   Ideas like ‘only open email once, then respond or delete it but don’t read it and flag it for later’.  I’ve been trying this and it’s made me much more disciplined.  I try not to check email unless I have time to work through it.  So the amount of time I spend on email generally has reduced and I am so much more brutal on how long I spend on each reply.

Play a bigger game  

Emma explains that you can ask useful questions of yourself from time to time to help you decide what’s important and what’s not.  “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” for example.  I think we can all get stuck on a fear of failure that stops us from even trying to achieve some dreams. 

But, I also think you need to be very self-aware to be able to identify that it’s actually fear that is holding you back and not a bunch of other excuses. This simple question can prompt you to consider whether something you’re dreaming about is really what you want or just a ‘it would be nice if’.  Then you can decide if you’re going to put your fear aside and go for it!

Start each day by asking yourself ‘What would make today great?’.  Ohhhh, I like this so much.  No need to go into detail on this one, but the idea is basically to run your day, not have the day run you!  Noted- thanks again Emma!

Every day set backs

‘Just move on’ Emma explains that this is a skill you can muster.  Far out Emma, did you write this book for me?  I am such a sucker for sweating the small stuff.

But, Emma does keep it real too.  I really enjoyed this statement “Most problems present huge opportunities even thought they totally suck at the time!”  I’ve got to be honest, I rarely find the positive in sucky problems but I’m open to the idea of stretching myself to find them.   I can see the benefit in pushing myself to do it.

Wow, as far as self-help goes- I’ve got some work to do, and some great inspo from Emma on how to do it, but my biggest takeaway from this read was that:

It is possible. 

If Emma can run a company with 5 small children and still stay sane and positive, then there are opportunities for us all.  I’ve actually signed up to attend one of the Business Chicks events next month.  And I’m really curious about what I’ll experience.

Let me know your thought on Winging It, I’m keen to hear what others took away from it.

Please connect on Facebook or Insta and comments are very welcome.  You can also contact me 

Til next time,

Best wishes,


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