How to Schedule Leisure at Work

Lynn H

Many freelancers and entrepreneurs are responsible for their own schedules. Unlike traditional employees, the self-employed do not have the ‘luxury’ of a boss dictating their every move each minute of the day, so they have to decide when it is time to work and time to play. Too much play and the company goes under but too much work is exhausting, stressful and, in the end, counterproductive.

In fact, play refreshes your mind and body, boosts energy to prevent burnout, keeps you going when you are under stress, stimulates creativity and gives you fresh insight into nagging problems, according to

Knowing when to relax and when to focus is an essential skill for entrepreneurs and freelancers but all employees can also benefit from improving workplace efficiency. Whether you are self-employed or work for someone else, you need to know how to know whether it is time to work or time to play.

Hold a daily “morning meeting with myself” to figure out how much time you have for work and play

Sit down in a quiet place and hold a formal meeting with yourself when you start work each day. Conduct these meetings just as you would if other people were there except for roll call, of course, and take notes of everything you discuss amongst yourself. Note any new business that needs immediate attention. Review the previous day’s minutes and carry over any unfinished business.

Evaluate the day’s business

Assign a higher priority to the most urgent, important and difficult tasks. Gain a clear understanding of your workload to determine how much playtime you have each day.

Define work and play

Take a good hard look at your daily activities to determine which are truly work-related and which are actually play. Telling the difference is sometimes easy – developing a financial spreadsheet for a client is clearly work while Angry Birds is obviously play.

Sometimes the distinction is not so apparent. Checking your work email frequently can help you stay ahead of your competitors but it is also a great way to find out if Aunt Millie tagged you in a Facebook post. When you consider that employees spend 28 percent of their time going through their email inbox, poorly defined work and play activities can gobble up both your playtime and your work time.

Create a schedule and stick to it or amend it

Schedule tasks whenever possible, even if there is no deadline and you can technically finish the projects whenever you like. Creating a schedule helps you work efficiently by creating a sense of urgency even when none exists. If you are consistently late, change your schedule to fit your workflow.

Complete the highest priority tasks first

You know when it is time to play when you have completed the most urgent, important and difficult tasks of the day. Be sure to squeeze in a few relaxing moments between priority tasks to refresh your brain.

Schedule playtime strategically throughout your day

Schedule playtime at the end of a difficult project to reward your brain and body for a job well done. Break up very large projects into short segments cushioned by periods of play for a quick refresher.

Go with your own flow

Balance your circadian rhythm with the workflow. If your body works 9 to 5 but your brain does not start until noon, schedule playful activities in the morning and heavy thinking duties in the afternoon.


Determining when it is time for play and when it is time to focus can optimize efficiency at the workplace. It can also keep you from becoming a poor, dull Jack.