How to enjoy your free time without feeling guilty

Enjoy free time without feeling guilty

Work hard, play hard, they say. But have you ever struggled with feeling guilty during your free time? Almost as if you weren’t allowed to take a break from work?

In a society where we value hard-working people, it can seem like you should be working all the time. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur or if you aspire to a certain career. Being unproductive is frowned upon. After all, how can you reach your goals when you sit around doing nothing?

I’ve mentioned so many times that it’s crucial to take breaks, both for your mental state and productivity. But today, I want to specifically explore how to enjoy your free time without feeling guilty. 

Plan time with family and friends in advance

When you’re swamped with work, it’s easy to discard socialising as a waste of time. Yet in reality, relationships are so important for our happiness! So, in order to avoid living as a hermit for weeks on end, just make plans with family and friends in advance.

Having made plans in advance, socialising becomes another item on your to-do list. You can’t cancel without breaking a promise. Thus, you’ll be more likely to stick with your plans and actually emerge from behind your laptop to meet people. 

I get that it might seem strange to some of you to include socialising on your to-do list. But for me, this just makes it part of my day. Which, in turn, reduces any feelings of guilt I might have about leaving my desk to go out.

As a side note: if you’re anything like me, your plans will always fall on the worst possible moment. But that’s okay! Timing might not be perfect, but maintaining your relationships is worth moving a deadline. 

Just remind yourself of how much less fun your life would be if it consisted only of work. This should really help you enjoy your free time without feeling guilty for it!

Actively remember the importance of your relationships, health and hobbies

It’s easy to see why working is important. After all, we do need money to pay rent and buy food. But besides this material necessity, there seems to be an idealisation of ‘being busy’ in our society. 

Since it seems normal to always be busy and work, we can sometimes overlook the significance of other aspects of our lives. 

At least to me, that’s where a lot of this guilt about having free time comes from. Despite my better judgement, I often feel like I would somehow be better off if I worked all the time. Which, of course, isn’t true.

If you tend to feel guilty about not working, you need to actively remember why having free time is important to you. Just imagine what your life would be like if you gave up on family, friends, and self-care. It wouldn’t be nice, would it? 

I personally know that my family and friends are what keeps me going. Without them, my work would just be a futile attempt to fill the empty space in my life. And as for health and self-care, that’s the basis for being a functioning human being. Just remember Maslow’s ‘Pyramid Of Needs’!

From a more practical point, it’s crucial to define all the roles you play in your life, professionally and socially. Knowing in the back of your mind that you’re not only an entrepreneur but also a friend, child, parent and human being will make sure that you focus on all the important areas of your life

Visualise the benefits of taking breaks and socialising 

We all get stuck in our work once in a while. But while it might seem logical to stay with the topic and try to figure it out, this is actually the least productive way to go.

Most of the time, we get stuck because we’ve been focusing on the same thing for too long. We’re so immersed in it that we can’t see the wood for the trees.

In these situations, or even when you just lack ideas or creativity, a change of scenery can truly do wonders. 

Whenever you feel guilty for stepping away from your screen because you didn’t solve a problem, remember that you’re actually getting closer to the solution. By focusing on something else, you’re gaining a new perspective and will be more productive when you get back to work.

How often have I stared at a problem for hours without finding any solution, and then solved it within minutes the next day! Taking a break can often help you see obvious answers that are right under your nose.

As for collecting ideas and gaining new creative energy, there is no better way to do so than by socialising and focusing on your hobbies!

The next time you feel like you don’t deserve a break, remind yourself that it will actually add to your productivity. Visualising this effect can really help you enjoy your free time without feeling guilty!

Make self-care a daily habit

A big part of the work-life balance we all strive for comes down to habits. When you get used to having free time, you’ll be able to enjoy it more without feeling guilty.

When I first started my business, I was practically incapable of having fun when my work wasn’t done. I would regularly work 14-hour days to complete massive projects, even though I had plenty of time before the deadline. 

With time, I have trained myself to remember other aspects of my life as well, even when I’m buried in work. I achieved that by creating self-care routines that I followed religiously, and that slowly became part of my everyday habits.

The first step to creating self-care habits is to establish a morning routine. 

Mine consists of drinking lemon water, doing yoga, and then making myself a cup of coffee. I force myself to do that every day, even when I feel like starting work as soon as I wake up.

Just by taking a little bit of time for yourself in the morning, you’ll be less stressed and more productive for the rest of the day. After all, we probably all know that gross feeling when it’s already 4 pm and you haven’t even had time to get ready for the day!

In the same sense, it’s nice to take a bit of time while you eat lunch to think about something other than work. By making this a habit, you’ll be more focused in the afternoon.

I find that these routines are easiest to implement when you’re not drowning in work so that you’ll be able to keep them up even if you are.

Believe me, you’ll be more productive, happier and get fewer headaches if you convince your workaholic mind that breaks are good! And most of all, you’ll be able to enjoy these breaks without feeling guilty about it.

How to enjoy your free time without feeling guilty

What are your favourite ways to step away from work without feeling guilty? Please let me know in the comments and share this post if you enjoyed it. 🙂

2 Replies to “How to enjoy your free time without feeling guilty”

  1. I love what you said that we have other roles in our life, rather than just an entrepreneur. I agree that it’s important to dedicate time to other aspects of our life and create balance that way. That definitely gets overlooked nowadays when being busy is a priority.

    1. I’m glad that you agree. 🙂 Being busy shouldn’t be a goal, and it’s completely possible to get the important stuff done and still enjoy some free time.

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