Sometimes you just need a break… but you can’t take one until the document on your computer is perfect. The process takes much longer than it should because you feel brain-dead. If this situation sounds familiar, could it be because your life outside of work isn’t really refueling and recharging you to be able to be your best at work? Perhaps your multi-tasking outside of the workplace includes work and you never really feel disconnected. Inc. Magazine contributor Alexa Von Tobel has a few suggestions in her article 4 Ways to Have a Life Outside Your Business.

If you returned to work Monday feeling more ragged than refreshed, you don’t really own your downtime–and that’s a problem.

You already know that taking breaks to refresh your mind is good for creativity and productivity. But I’d be willing to bet that most entrepreneurs have trouble putting this into practice. It starts by reclaiming your downtime. Here are four tips to do just that.

Schedule “me time.” Me time is different for everyone. But regardless of whether it’s cooking, going to the gym, or relaxing at home with a book, make sure that you’re getting it in. For me, Saturday is my quiet time to kick back with a magazine or get a 10-minute chair massage so I feel like I did something nice for myself. It’s often how I find inspiration. For that reason, Saturday is my free day and I give myself permission to do absolutely nothing.

Yes, give yourself permission! Most lawyers are extreme achievers, so giving yourself permission to do nothing or to do what you love doing… now that is tough. But not impossible, try it!

 Set clear expectations. Being the founder and CEO of LearnVest means people ask a lot of me during the week. I hate saying no and letting them down, but I’ve found saying yes to everyone means saying no to myself and the things I care about. Over time, I’ve learned to say no politely and with sincerity. Recently I had dinner with a few girlfriends. Since I’d said I’d be busy from the outset, no one was upset about the fact they hadn’t seen me in a few weeks. However, if I’d tried to appease them and make plans only to cancel at the last minute, that would have been worse. It’s just important to set expectations, and I do it with everyone from family to friends and even my husband.

Setting clear expectations is a top priority when working with clients. But somehow we’re not as diligent in putting it into practice in our personal lives. “Under promise, over deliver” is sage advice not only for your business but also for your personal life.

 Keep separate calendars for work and play. Even on paper, my professional and home lives stay separate. I use several email accounts and separate calendars so I can see at a glance what my weekend looks like. If I check my personal email and see I have four errands to run, then I’ll know to power through so I meet with some friends. Since my husband and I have limited time and work similar hours, we throw things in each other’s calendar all the time. Again, it’s about setting clear expectations.

This idea may work for you. I think it depends on how packed your life is… kids, spouse, sports, charity work, etc.

 Outsource what you hate. If the weekend rolls around and you find yourself running all these awful errands, try outsourcing them. Personally, I love doing laundry. But it takes up to four hours, which isn’t a good use of my time, especially if I haven’t slept, gone to the gym, or seen family. If you find yourself dreading certain chores, pay someone else to do them and find a way to save money elsewhere, say by bringing your lunch to work. The point is to filter out what you dislike and don’t really enjoy and maximize the things that you do love because, let’s face it, the rest of the week you’re maxed out.

I love this one and live by it. It makes more sense to come in to the office and bill a client two hours at your hourly rate than to spend two hours cutting the lawn if you HATE it! Pay someone to do it… the return on investment of two hours is huge! Both in money and satisfaction, assuming you love your work… and that’s another conversation!

If you would like to figure out how to get a bit more harmony in your life, I can help. Shoot me an email!