To get to that state takes knowing how and when to “pause.” It’s a difficult skill to master in a world moving and changing fast. And it’s tempting to think you don’t need it. Trust me; you do, regardless of your business, industry or niche.

Here’s a step-by-step plan to create more down time so you can actually enjoy the success you’re creating.

Step One: Start small

Schedule short periods of pause in your day — preferably before it kicks into high gear.

I bookend my days with periods of pause. I have my morning coffee/devotion time before the workday begins and a period of reflection just before I shut down my computer and shift into mom mode.

Step Two: Arm yourself with a go-to protective phrase

Once you start carving out small periods of time in your day, you must defend them, ruthlessly.

For those just beginning this process, it’s good to be armed with a go-to protective phrase, something that prohibits you from immediately saying yes.

Try this one on for size: Instead of saying, “Sure, I can do that,” push pause on the request with, “I’d love to help, but let me check my calendar and get back to you.” This gives you time to either craft an empowered “no” or schedule that ask into your calendar.

Step Three: Create bigger pauses

You’ve practiced and now you’re ready to carve out bigger chunks of margin in your life: full days off.

If you’re not already taking off weekends, start there. Make your clients aware that you’re unavailable but will respond promptly Monday morning. If you’re already off on weekends, consider adding one unscheduled day into your week, where appointments are off limits.

Step Four: Become outrageously productive

If you’re working less — but not deliberately working in an environment that fosters maximum productivity — something is going to suffer. Your business, your clients, your reputation or all three.

Free time must be scheduled, defended and earned with productive work during “go time.” You must be willing to work more deliberately than most to enjoy the pause that so few ever achieve.

For me, this means working in an interruption-free environment, never accepting unscheduled phone calls, and having a start and stop time for everything in my schedule.

Become outrageously productive and you’ll find that you can often do in 25 hours what you used to do in 40 — and do it better.

Courtesy of B. Michelle Pippin