Whether you’re self-employed or work for an outside employer, taking time off isn’t easy. In fact, there are times when taking off leaves you a mountain of things to do when you return. It’s almost enough to make you regret taking time away from work at all.

Surely there’s an easier way to take a vacation or just take a break for a few days. The good news is, by putting some time management strategies into place you can. Below are several ways to get more done so you can take time off when you need to.

How to Create Balance in Your Day

1. Start with a List

In order to get more done so you can take time off you must work efficiently. One of the first things you should do to accomplish that is make a list.

But there’s more than one way to create your list. Obviously you could simply jot it down on paper. In fact, that may be a good start.

However, with today’s calendars and scheduling apps you can also set your tasks up in a schedule. While it takes a few minutes to do this, there are benefits to be had. For instance, you can set up reminders so no work or meetings get missed.

Creating an online list allows you to add to it as needed. As you think of additional work you can add to the list in your calendar or scheduling app. At the same time, you can take things off the list as you need to.

Updating your list online through a calendar or scheduling app prevents wasted time writing and rewriting paper lists. You can also conveniently see the list from a mobile device wherever you are.

2. Prioritize Work

When you want to get more done so you can take time off, prioritize what needs to be done. Doing this ensures jobs of vital importance or with deadlines will be completed.

You can use time more wisely through prioritizing. It helps you to evaluate what needs to be done. Prioritizing also helps you cut out things you may not really need to do. In addition, you can create order by doing things with urgent deadlines first.

3. Plan Ahead

After creating a list and prioritizing what’s on it you can start working ahead to take time off. Of course this may take a little planning.

Watch for work that can be completed ahead of time and get it done before you take time off. Using an online calendar can help you focus on the tasks that are due while you will be gone. Then you can complete those projects that need to be finished early.

4. Work Smarter

If you want to get more done so you can take time off, take a look at ways you could be wasting time. Try to eliminate or fix as many as possible. This will free up some time so you can get more done. Here are some ideas that may help:

Develop Routines to Work Faster

Most people who get into routines do complete work tasks faster. The reason is because your brain and body already know what needs to be done. In other words, you really can (almost) do things in your sleep.

You certainly won’t have to refer to a task list as often when you develop routines. Even though it takes only a few seconds to glance at a list, looking multiple times adds up.

By the end of a few hours you will have wasted several minutes or more. That time could have been better spent doing something productive.

To start creating routines, examine the first few projects you do each day. Always do them pretty much the same way and in the same order. This develops habits that may help you work faster over time.

Once you get into a morning routine, move on to what you do in the afternoons. Before you know it, you will be cruising through your day getting tons of things accomplished.

Eliminate Distractions

Whenever possible eliminate or reduce as many distractions as you can. This will also help you get more done so you can take time off.

For instance, if you work at home try to do it in an office or somewhere you can shut out noise. Without noise to interrupt you, concentrating will be easier and you’ll work faster.

business texting

Schedule Email and Text Breaks

Rather than stopping to look at texts and emails as you receive notifications, ignore them instead. Then, periodically check all of them at scheduled times of the day.

As an example, check your messages first thing in the morning, once at mid-morning, and again at lunch. Look again a few hours after lunch and a final time at the close of the day.

By taking this kind of approach you limit your interruptions throughout the day. It helps you to get more done so you can work smarter and faster. The rest of the time, set your phone out of reach and turn off your notifications.

Use Automation

Using automation may be another way to get more done in your day. Streamlining what you do may be just what is needed to help you take time off when you need it.

Furthermore, with automation you might be able to set up some tasks to do themselves while you are gone.

Let’s say you need to send customer invoices during the time in which you will be away. You can automate the invoicing process so neither you nor anyone else has to do it. Instead, they will be sent automatically.

Look for other ways to automate tasks you do every day. This is another way to speed up what you do and save time.

5. Train a Backup

To avoid work overload either before or after taking time off consider training a backup. Having the additional help allows you to take time off without worry or guilt.

If you own your own business, hire someone to help out part time or occasionally. That way they know the work routines and what to do while you are away.

On the other hand, if you work for someone else, talk to them about coverage when you’re gone. Let them know you want to ensure the business runs smoothly in your absence.

It may help to split out your duties to more than one person during your break. Dividing up work keeps colleagues who are helping with your work from feeling overwhelmed.

6. Delegate

When you are able to, delegate some jobs to other people. Delegating make others feel good because they are helping you out and it takes stress off your shoulders.

But even if you are a solopreneur, you can delegate household tasks to other people. This is a way to provide the time you need to get more work done.

Some things may not be done by others exactly as you would do them. But that’s ok, because at least they are getting done and saving you time.

7. Say “No”

Being under a deadline because you anticipate being gone means you may have to say “no” to some requests. For some people, this is a very hard thing to do.

Many of us seem to be programmed to say “yes” to nearly every work-related request. What’s more, if we aren’t agreeable, we feel guilty about it.

But saying “no” to a few things is not unreasonable. You have limits and you shouldn’t feel pressured to work beyond them.

Your time is valuable and you need to treat it that way. That’s another way to help you get more done in your day.

When you want to take time off you shouldn’t feel guilty about being away. You also shouldn’t have to work so hard you are sick before you leave or after you get back. Instead, use these ways to get more done so you can take time off and enjoy it.