5 Ways To Make Time For Yourself Without Feeling Guilty About It

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”- English proverb

It just drains all of life’s enjoyment.

You just want to relax and watch a good movie but you feel guilty about claiming two full hours out of the day.  Or maybe you want to curl up and read the latest issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, or maybe you feel like enjoying a long nap?

You’re not alone.

You squeeze everything out of every living minute; you’re speed-crazed, time-obsessed, tech-dependent, and a productivity freak.

To complicate matters, you’re flooded with time management techniques to help you be more productive every day of your life.

But having some down-time (whatever that means for you) is not a waste, even though you might think it is.  Having nothing to do for a while is the ultimate luxury of our modern days.

Let’s first assume you work hard most of the time and you deserve a break once in a while.

Your problem is you think you can’t afford to take time off.  Hence, the feeling of guilt when you do.

As a result, you keep putting off a simple and effective reward for your efforts – Me time.

Less is more is a notion that simplicity and clarity lead to better architecture, design, fashion and yes, productivity.

Try practicing one of these mind shifters to enjoy more guilt-free Me time:

1. Think of down-time as an investment

 An electrical car needs a couple of hours to recharge after use.  Your mind and body are the same – they need to be refueled and energized to go back into drive mode.

Think over the long run – you want to conserve and even compound your energy by investing small amounts of time in Me time on a regular basis.

In any act of creativity, be it in arts or business, taking a step back from what you’re doing to letting your creative juices do their work is the best advice.

In her book, The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp suggests the nifty trick of always stopping when you still have some energy left.  “Don’t drive yourself to the point of being totally spent.  Try to stop while you have a few drops left in the tank, and use that fuel to build a bridge to the next day”

2.  Let go of the to-do list for a week

Trust yourself to work on the most important tasks for your business and allow yourself to experience seven days without a constant reminder of what’s still left to do.

If you have a crazy case of hamster-wheel brain because you’re always thinking of what to do next, you’ll find even more benefits in training your mind to let go of the to-do list.

For some, yoga and meditation help.  For others, various restorative activity make them appreciate the present moment.

By being less obsessed with checking off the items on your list, you’re helping your mind focus on the true top priorities.

3. Make a conscious effort to block a day off with nothing on your schedule

Instead, put fun time on your calendar.

I wouldn’t think you necessarily need a list of fun activities to do.  What you do need is a way to trick yourself to do these activities.   So pencil them in your calendar well in advance. Then don’t move them under any condition.

4. Take pride in what you’ve completed

Give yourself a nudge for work well done.

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” Voltaire

If you’re a perfectionist, revisit 3 Rules to Help You Fight the Tyranny of Perfection

5. Let go – Hang around small kids or adults who haven’t grown up

Play a board game.

Tell a story.

Play outside.

Read a children’s book.


Challenge your assumptions about what being more productive means.

  • What if wasting time was good for your mental health and balance?
  • What if down time was a long forgotten thing of childhood you just needed to relearn?
  • What if your assumption on productivity was wrong?

Imagine yourself relaxing because you know that later on you will be fully engaged when you get back to work.

Imagine yourself enjoying your time off knowing full well you will be super-charged with energy while working.

Everyone needs a pick-me-up sometimes and you don’t need to feel guilty about it.

These five tips will help you play with the counter-intuitive idea of “wasting time” to make more time.

While you’re at it, share with me your ideas on how you enjoy guilt-free downtime.

C’mon, let’s start a wave of energy by sharing our ideas on how to “waste time” joyfully and guilt-free!

Laure Cohen coaches managers on how to stay focused on their priorities  while keeping their sanity. Find out more on how to stand out from the crowd  in record time in her blog http://www.SheMeansSuccess.com. Tweet her @laurecoh. 


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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