I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Making things happen requires breaking the rules. You have worked hard to set 2013 Goals, cleared some clutter and started to learn about preparing for greatness (much more on that to come!). Today, I’m giving you the key ingredient to making things happen. The biggest FAQ I get from people is “How do you do it all? How do you balance everything?” My answer: I don’t always do it all. I rest. Now, before you kick your feet up on your desk, understand one essential thing… I’m talking about active rest. I plan active rest in three areas: in my day, my week and in my month. We’ll start with rest in your day. Positive, refueling, focused rest that helps you be your best [stretching, taking a walk, exercise, reading a great book, prayer, pumping up the music]; not the kind of rest that makes you feel bad, lazy, unfocused and off-track [doughnuts, TV, Internet, Facebook]. In order to have the power, energy and focus to make big things happen, you have to balance it with real rest.

I used to work seven days a week, till 3am every day (some of you remember those days when we’d be up working late together), and I used to be completely and utterly exhausted. Looking back, it’s shocking that I survived. A lot of you know my story from back then. You’ve followed my path from burned out to making things happen. I went through the trenches and those trenches weren’t pretty or productive. I’m not perfect and certainly have days where I feel burnout coming, but nothing near what it used to be. I’ve learned the hard way. Looking back, all that crazy work wasn’t worth it one bit. It’s not the all-nighters and lack of rest that got me to where I am. It’s the fact that I learned from the major errors of my ways. Never let anyone tell you that you have to “go through the trenches” to climb to success.

I know many of you are in day jobs that you want to transition out of some day very soon. I know you have that job that you don’t love so you can support your family. Balancing a day job and a passion is insanely hard and I respect those of you that are doing that right now. You do what you have to do to get to where you really want to be – for you and for your family. Especially you mothers out there. You are Super Women. But, you know you can’t keep that pace forever. All I will say is this: If you want it and you invest in taking the right steps – no matter how long it takes – you will get there and it will be worth it. You’re not alone. MTH alum, so many of you have made that big transition. Many of those transitions were not easy at all, but were they worth it? 10000% YES. (I would LOVE it if some of you who have made that transition could share some wisdom in the comments!) Know that it’s possible if you take bold purposeful steps and plan ahead. Emily and Gina went through the same thing two years ago. From zero rest to doing what they love (granted, still with a lot of hard work and some long days). But, they did it. Just know it’s possible. I want to encourage you that, while you’re still in those day jobs, you can get more efficient, productive and learn to take rest periods even amidst the heavy sometimes-impossible workload. This will prepare you for greatness ahead.

You have to learn and make mistakes and work hard, but don’t let that come at the expense of your health and wellness. Working all of those hours made me less productive and completely stressed. I was doing poor work, had no friends, no marriage and I was pretty much wrapped up in trying to please everyone else. It was so backwards. I thought that since I was working 24/7, I was getting things done.

Until I took a day off. In the summer of 2010, I was forced to a breaking point. I spent a very memorable day in the hospital and it was a big wake up call. I had already started to take a few pseudo days off (i.e. – I’d still check email and work for a couple hours) here and there a year before, but I wasn’t consistently taking a full day off of email, internet and every kind of work. I was burned. out. So, I forced myself to start taking Sundays completely off. I say “forced myself” because there was a LOT of fear involved. What if I get behind? How am I going to get it all done if I don’t work 24/7?!?! (Does this sounds familiar, anyone??) But, truly, I felt empty working like that. I got to the point where I was complaining and tired pretty much every day. I started to see my lack of real rest affecting everyone around me. My workload started to increase and I knew I needed a full day for God – a day to really rest and renew – or I was going to crack. I was fearful and skeptical but I forced myself. That Sunday was a turning point.

I walked into my office the next Monday morning feeling like I could take on the world. I actually wanted to work and I wanted to work hard. I was focused, rested and ready. From that moment, I was hooked. The more time I took off on the weekend, the more focused and efficient I was during the week. Trust me, when you know you aren’t working on Sunday, you work much harder and smarter during the week to get it all done. When I know I’m committed to not emailing on the weekends or after 6pm, I get it done during the day. I make it happen. No distractions allowed. The crazy thing is, my workload has actually tripled in the last two years and I’m getting triple the amount of work done… and done well… because I am planning active rest ahead of time. I can honestly say that before I started taking time off, I was not doing my best work. How can you do your best work if you are spread so thin? Don’t let a trip to the ER drive you to rest. Take action now.

I know what you’re thinking… how in the world can I take an entire day off from work? There’s so much to do! That will NEVER happen! Oh, I feel you. I was so there. This seems so counter-intuitive and so IMPOSSIBLE. I get it. And many of you shoot weddings or have events on weekends. You figure out what works for you. Maybe you try to take Monday off. Maybe you start by taking a half day off. So, before you pass this off as completely insane – trust me I thought the same thing – start small. Start with active rest during your day. Set a timer (iPhone, computer, watch) for 60 minutes. Work for 60 minutes as hard as you can, then take a 10 minute break to do absolutely no work. If you can, step away from your computer completely. No matter how much work you have left. It’s just a 10 minute break. It will not kill you. Take a walk, lay down, have a dance party in your office, or – if you work a day job and you’re able to do this – walk out of the building and get some fresh air. Here’s the deal though: no checking email (even personal), no social media, no internet. Just take a break with your head out of your phone and computer. Take some deep breaths. Get some water, stretch, get some good healthy food, read an inspiring book, whatever. Let your mind drift from work to renewing yourself: physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally. Get creative! The only rule is to stay away from the internet. Then, tell me how you feel when you get back to your desk. I didn’t make this up. There is significant research that says doing bouts of focused work during the day and taking real breaks – active rest – makes your productivity and focus skyrocket! We do this in my office and it just plain works. I encourage the women I work with to take breaks – go get coffee, have lunch, take a walk – anything. A five minute walk around the block is like a miracle! Even when I just walk out to get the mail and come back, I feel more refreshed and ready to work harder. I love that Emily in my office has made a daily walk at work one of her goals. SHe has faithfully done it all week!

I use a block schedule and set certain days a week and certain days a month way in advance to take client calls. I always schedule 30 minute breaks between consults to take notes, take action on those sessions, prepare for greatness in the next session and … take a break. I want to bring my A Game for every client and be refreshed and on point. Taking a couple minutes to stretch and refresh gets me fired up again. So, do it. You. can. take. a. break. Even if it’s just five minutes today, do it.

Your Challenge for today:

1. Write down five things you can do during your breaks that would make you more rested and focused during the day. Choose things that will refuel you, not things that will steer you off track. Pick one of those things and do it today. Set timer, work hard, then take a real break Just start with one break today, if you want. Baby steps. If you are feeling ambitious, set an alarm on your phone to go off every 90 minutes to remind you to take a breather.

2. This is the single best thing I’ve ever done for my life and my business. If you don’t already do this, schedule a day off. A day completely free of work. Even if it’s a month from now, look at your calendar, write it down, and work your life so you make it happen. From someone who spent the first seven years – SEVEN YEARS! – in business working 7 days a week, I know how hard this challenge is. I learned the hard way and you don’t have to. It doesn’t have to be every week at first, but I guarantee you will see the benefits in your life and in your work, and you will want to start taking more time off to refuel. It will become an essential to your productivity. You will get more done in half the time. Life is too short to miss it thinking that success comes with working 24/7. It doesn’t. Success comes from working smarter. I want you to at least try it once. That’s do-able right? Just one day off. Build from there. It’s worth it!

3. Plan a full weekend off. Stay with me here…. even if you stay home, take a weekend completely away from technology: Internet, TV, phone. Plan several of these in the next twelve months, if you can. Even if you think it’s impossible right now, plant the seed. A year from now you will wish you had started today. Put it on your calendar for a few months from now if needed and take action steps to make it happen. You deserve it. Your clients deserve your best you. Your family deserves the joyful you. You CAN do this. Life is too short to miss it in email and unfocused days. So start small and plan ahead.

Who’s ready to have an office dance party break today?!

PREVIOUSLY (It’s never too late to start this process. There is NOTHING MAGICAL ABOUT JANUARY 1ST!):

GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 1
GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 2
GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 3
GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 4
GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 5
MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: CLEAR THE CLUTTER
MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: PREPARE FOR GREATNESS

WIN!!! COMMENT with your plan for these three steps above and spread the word to get others involved. You will be entered to win a one-on-one branding session with me OR your choice of gold foil art prints (one for you and a friend) when my new shop opens soon. Don’t lurk any more, friends : ) Take ACTION and comment with your progress and plan for rest! I’d love to hear from you and learn from you as well…

Show Comments (25)
  1. @delsolphoto

    “@laracasey: If you work 24/7 or feel burned out, this post is for you! Take a BREAK http://t.co/Lse61p6L” #rest makes you more creative

  2. @LeoTimoshuk

    RT @laracasey: If you work 24/7 or feel burned out, this post is for you! Take a BREAK http://t.co/1ff7n3KJ

  3. Tabitha

    Lara,
    Another wonderful post. And I almost teared up when you talked about those of us trying to quit day jobs for more time with family. I need to focus on active rest more. I want to be a happy, productive, energetic person. If I don’t schedule these short breaks, then what am I good for?
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Amanda Speer

    Rest is key to any good endeavor. Even Jesus himself took time to rest during his ministry. It’s good to hear you say “I don’t always do it all. I rest”. I’ll keep this in mind as I strive to build my business, with God’s help.

  5. Anna Rosendall

    The internet is my biggest pitfall as far as distractions go. The worst thing I do is start watching a movie or tv show online when I should be working. The dumb thing is that I make dinner and then while I’m eating, I read a few blogs because “who can get real work done when they’re eating?!” Idiot. My new goal is since I live alone and do eat dinner by myself about half of the week, I’m going to read a book or magazine while I’m eating instead of getting distracted online. The computer is an awesome thing and it helps me get most of my work done (blogging, researching, etc), but it can be SUCH a distraction if you’re not careful. Here’s to finding new ways to “rest” instead of just browsing random stuff online!

  6. @ashleyshelly

    RT @laracasey: If you work 24/7 or feel burned out, this post is for you! Take a BREAK http://t.co/1ff7n3KJ

  7. @eventsinthecity

    RT @laracasey: I used to work seven days a week, 24/7. What I learned: http://t.co/VbZftoa2

  8. Laura Ritchie

    This post was so timely. I absolutely couldn’t agree more with everything you said Lara. Its weird that I think I am good at doing many of these things already but the truth is I am still connected to my phone, computer while Yo Gabba plays in the background and my kid is alone on the floor playing by himself…Epic mama fail.

    So my five things to do while I rest are as follows: 1.) read a magazine 2.) paint my nails (yes Im really good at it and it makes me happy) 3.) go for a walk with my weiner dog who is practically ignored now that we have a baby 4.) talk to a college roommate, which reminds me of a whole other life I had at one point 5.) draw…i need to get back into this.

    Days off….my business partner and I already schedule two days off a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Haha..its Thursday and look what I am doing…so you can see thats not going so well. I need to be better about not just having no daycare these two days, but actually being in the moment and not just fending off grubby ahnds while mommy is on a conference call.

    Lastly…a staycation. I am purposely not booking myself (a wedding planner here) for every single weekend of every single month. Believe it or not I am fortunate enough to be that busy but I have resigned myself to not do every weekend, and that one weekend a month…even in the height of the season is much better for me to take off and recharge then go flat out for 11 weeks in a row (cough cough 2012).

    Thats my plan, well my REplan. This post was perfect timing as I said and I am going to listen to it, and my husband, business partner and my body to rest so I can be a better me everywhere else.

  9. Brit Tucker

    I love this post, but for reasons different than most. I love my day job, a lot. Like more than most people probably do. But, I also love my love for the wedding industry. However, sometimes the heart needs a rest, just as you say. It’s so important. And, it’s why I decided to take a year off. With the craziness of my day job about to kick in (all for good reasons), and my desire to travel a lot this year, I knew I would not only be my best self for my clients, but I needed a chance to recharge and reinspire myself. So, here’s to an awesome 2013 of resting my heart.

  10. Jessica

    When I first read this I found myself thinking, “Man I wish I could ACTUALLY take Sundays off!!” And then I thought, why not?!! Sundays are the only day I am not scheduled to work, and the previous-me left ALL my homework for that day, even if it was a 10 pg paper due Monday morning. Planning to have Sundays off will make me bust my butt even more during the week instead of dilly-dallying and not getting anything done!! I am going to take the active rest thing to heart as well. Usually when I’m working on a paper, I’ll take a break on FB and that does nothing!! Now I plan to get some fresh air or read a non-school related book. Or journal just to dump some of my thoughts.

  11. @Laura_Wadsworth

    RT @laracasey: I used to work seven days a week, 24/7. What I learned: http://t.co/VbZftoa2

  12. MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: NAME YOUR FEAR « Lara Casey

    [...] MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: CLEAR THE CLUTTER MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: PREPARE FOR GREATNESS MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: TAKE A BREAK! P.S. Remember to prepare for greatness next week and kick the social media to the curb this [...]

  13. @juliekittredge

    Taking time off can actually help you be more productive in your business. http://t.co/FLy0Mcpz

  14. Hilary Maloney

    I have been so fired up by this blog post and it has been a huge blessing to me! I’m a wife, full time college student at the University of Georgia, wedding planner, blogger, etsy-shop owner…the list goes on! After way too many 15-hour work days, I’ve decided to make a big change, with the help of this post! I shared details about my new pursuit of rest on my blog today, hilarymaloney.com, but I’ll share the short version here. I’m definitely going to be implementing daily breaks into my work days, and my plan is to take 5-15 breaks every 1-2 hours. My ideas for breaks include a walk around my neighborhood, pilates, reading a book, reading a magazine, prayer & worship, painting my nails, journaling or painting. On days when I’m on campus, I plan to walk to my classes when there’s time and take advantage of those times I miss the bus–its the perfect time to sit on a bench for 10 minutes and enjoy the moment, free of the internet! On busy days when I’m not working at home, I plan on scheduling “do-nothing” time into my day. I work a few shifts a week at Gap, so for example, I might arrive 20 minutes early and sit in my car and read. I also plan on reserving Sundays for no work, no school. Just enjoying the day, rock-climbing with my husband, worship, and maybe a yummy dinner. I’ve also decided to build a consistent morning routine, which can be difficult since I go to school some days, meetings other days, work from home, etc. I’ve decided to go to bed early so that I can wake up early and start my day well. My most productive time of day is before noon, so I love getting up early, getting ready and having my quiet time, all before 8 or 9 am! I’ve only been doing this for one week, but I have already been able to see so much fruit! Lastly, my husband and I are going to choose six weekends this year when we can “vacation.” whether we take a trip or just rest at home, we will commit to resting physically and spiritually while also investing quality time into our marriage.

    Thanks again for sharing this, Lara!

  15. Kari

    Seriously have loved going through this process with you, yesterday I sat down with a calender and scheduled our staycations (mid-year burn out vision trips), camping weekends, a full week of vacation and a week of missions and giving back for me and the husband. So excited:)

  16. Jasmine

    1. Coffee break with a pretty magazine. Relax with my hubby for a few minutes in complete silence (we both work from home). Walk into the kitchen and get dinner started. Take a walk outside if the weather is nice. Call a friend to chat!

    2. I’m going to try super hard to make this happen – try to work smarter during the week so I can earn that day off. For now, my compromise is to work only 4 hours in the daytime – I quit working as soon as my 2 year old is back home from pre-school, and I get back to work for 2 hours once the kids are in bed at night. I’m proud of myself for unplugging once the kids are at home so I can give them my best, that was my main reason for being a WAHM.

    3. In all honesty, this may not happen for me until my littlest one goes to school full time. Because the weekends are when Daddy takes over for a few hours and I can get a chunk of work done, to make up for my short week days. But it is what works for us right now. Once I get longer working days, those weekends will definitely be OFF :)

  17. Jessica Chavez

    Oh man! These were hard because I work in the family business but here are a couple of things that could work…

    1. Get out of the office and go buy an apple, and eat if of course
    2. Call a friend just to say hi
    3. Crank the music and have a dance party
    4. Stretch
    5. Go out for a walk if its not too cold

    Starting tomorrow I’ll set alarms throughout the day to take these breaks!! Here’s to a great Monday!!

  18. A Starry Night…

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  20. Carrie Joy

    My 5 things to rest: 1) Do a series of short yoga stretches 2) Talk a walk with my dog Jasmine 3) Dance to Salsa music or anything I’m into at the moment 4) Read a book. Not online, an actual book 5) Drink water & eat a snack

    I scheduled my first day off for this Sunday. Not sure I can always take Sundays off but I’m taking the first step.

    Planned the weekend of May 11 off to go camping with my husband. We’ve never been camping together & we’ve been together 5 years. Excited to finally plan it :)

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  22. Ashley Flores

    Okay, so my daily plan is to walk to the bookstore during my lunch break before I start eating. I work on a college campus and that is just a good way for me to get outside for a few moments and away from my desk (which is my Goal #10 for the year).

    I am also taking this Sunday off. It’s Mother’s Day and I am just going to lounge with my grandmother and mother-in-law. No E-mails. No social media. No reading blogs. Just family time :-).

    I am also planning a no work weeking on the 25th and 26th. I’ve already agreed to speak at an expo out of town next week so I can’t go back on that, but I’m interested to see how this goes. I have a tendency to feel lazy when I’m not working even when I’m still doing productive things.

    I’ll keep y’all updated!

    xoxo