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Time Management Tips For Working Smarter, Not Harder

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It can seem impossible to find enough time to grow your side business or enjoy your hobbies alongside working a 9 to 5. Never mind fitting in family and home commitments.

With so many things demanding your attention and what feels like so little time to give to every single one, it can be difficult to focus on anything at all, and then you can easily start to feel like you’re falling behind.

Carina Lawson is a time management coach and the founder of Ponderlily Planners (, who helps her clients to make better decisions about how they spend their time. Here, she shares her top tips for feeling more fulfilled – whether that’s while working on a side business or finding time for the things you love.

1. Make space

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“Being away, even for a little while, can give you a fresh perspective, allow you to rest, and come back refreshed to better serve your family, friends, and work.

“In your everyday, this could mean scheduling your Zoom meetings in blocks of time that give you some breathing room in between, so you can take a break, refocus, and bring your best energy to the next appointment. Not every minute of your every day needs to be planned.”

2. Call it like it is

“Your work is not just your 9-5, but the place where you get to practise the skills for which you were trained. Your business is not just a side hustle, it’s where you get to unleash your creativity.

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“Changing the way we refer to the different parts of our lives makes us pay attention more closely to the important roles we are lucky to have. By changing the way you refer these things, you are giving each part the respect that it deserves.”

3. Make realistic commitments

“Sure, we’d love to get everything done in a day. However, it is often not realistic. The opportunity cost of working on your business every day, for four hours a day, may be that you exercise less, spend less time with your family, or have less time to yourself.”

The same could be true for any creative projects you might want to start – decorating the house, making curtains or even just having a good clear out – all these things take time.

“Instead, working on the right things with no distractions, may allow you more time to spend with the people you love, or pursue something that gives you pleasure. Making realistic commitments also means you can account for time when you may need help.”

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4. Compartmentalise your time like a pro

In order to give each aspect of your life the attention and care it deserves, you need to give it undivided attention with professional precision.

“When you’re at work, pause your business inbox on your phone, so you’re not constantly receiving notifications. You can also effectively use time-blocking, creating a habit of only checking your emails at specified intervals. And if you’re able to outsource some of your business activities to a virtual assistant while you are at work, even better.

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“Compartmentalising your time is a gift that allows you to turn your computer off, so you can shift your focus, fully – without giving the previous activity a second glance.”

Focusing on one thing at a time, whether that’s work, a side business, family time or doing something for yourself, is often the answer to achieving more.