As someone who works full time, blogs and works as a freelance designer, I’m always juggling different tasks and trying to eek as many hours out of the day as I can. In the process of trying to maximise my time I’ve made a lot of mistakes that led to unnecessary stress and really long nights, and I’ve learned a lot from those mistakes. These are the things I wish I knew about time management 5 years ago.



As someone who used to just write a to do list and hope it happened, time blocking has honestly been such a revelation. I schedule my days, particularly weekends, by marking out blocks of time to work on certain tasks, that’s one task per time block. Since starting a more schedule based approach I’ve achieved so much more and worked a lot more efficiently. Time blocking helps you know what you should be doing next, how long something should take you and also how much you can achieve in the day (quite often I transfer my to-do list into my schedule and realise there’s just not enough time to do everything).



When you time block the temptation to plan work for every minute from dawn until dusk is so real, especially when you have a to-do list that’s longer than your arm. You have to stay strong and plan in buffer time. As much as it might feel wrong not to fill your schedule right to the top, leaving some extra space for things to go wrong or take longer than you think is absolutely essential because it will happen. Having that extra space means you can be realistic about what you can actually achieve and it means that if/when things go wrong you don’t feel bad about it. Plus, there’s the added bonus that if everything goes smoothly you get to tick off your to-do list early!



Some days you’re just not going to work very well. I used to beat myself up quite a lot over those days because so much of my idea of my value is caught up in how productive I am. But remembering that you’re only human and allowing yourself to have slow days and rest makes you more productive in the long run.



Tagging onto that last point, you need to take breaks. You should be taking breaks between tasks so that you can stay focused as well as longer rests at the end of the day to unwind. Breaks are good for your health, both mental and physical, and they’re good for your productivity. I’m still working on getting better at taking full days off every once in a while, but all of these tips are works in progress for me.



As much as it might seem like it, multitasking doesn’t make you more productive. I have tried it many times and always come to the same conclusion that doing one thing at a time, and really focusing on that one thing, is the most efficient way to work.



I work fastest when there’s a deadline coming up because that piece of work always gets bumped up to being my top priority. I’m definitely not suggesting that you leave everything until the last minute, please don’t do that. But because you’re more focused when time is limited, set deadlines for everything. I found that the tasks that I didn’t have proper deadlines for, usually my own projects, dragged on and on and on and constantly got deprioritised. Set realistic deadlines for everything you want to achieve to make sure it actually gets done when you want it to be done.



I love having a routine, it gives my days structure and it helps me stay focused. I know a lot of people find routines scary, but I would highly recommend giving a work routine a go because you can really make it whatever you want to and it doesn’t have to be super rigid. That might mean anything from I do all of my admin tasks on a Friday, or I finish work at 9:30 every day, or I do my jobs in this order every day.



Sometimes the easiest way to start working is just to start working. That might sound so obvious it’s stupid but it’s easy to forget and decide you’re going to start when it’s just the right moment or when the rain stops or when you’ve scrolled through every Buzzfeed article you can find. You just have to start. If I’m feeling particularly apprehensive about work, or particularly procrastinate-y, I like to start with something small. Ticking off the littlest thing on your to-do list is the quickest way to get you feeling productive.



There will never be enough hours in the day so you have to prioritise what you’re working on. “Is it due soon?” and “is it essential?” are always the two questions I start with when I’m deciding my work priorities. But it’s also important to ask “is it a priority to my well-being?”. You shouldn’t have to prioritise work over your health and happiness.



There’s a weird period of time before you have a meeting where you just don’t really do anything because you’re doing a bit of a pre-meeting procrastinate. Group all of your meetings together where you can to try and minimise the amount of time you’re psyching yourself up to sit through another presentation or meeting that could have been an email. I also try and do this with phone calls, emails, and all other similar types of work communication for the same reasons.



I used to try and work for hours and hours in one go, and it just didn’t work. I’d lose focus and become unproductive before I was even halfway done with whatever I was working on. Instead, I now work in sprints which are normally about 45 minutes long (sometimes a bit more sometimes a bit less, I’m not as strict as the Pomodoro method) and then take a quick breather. The amount of time I work for depends on the kind of task I’m doing. Figure out how long you can actually focus on a task for and then work in sprints of that amount of time to keep focused and engaged.



I talked in my goal setting post about breaking down goals into manageable chunks, the same goes for tasks. Break everything on your to-do list down into chunks that you can do in one go. You’re more likely to do them that way, and you feel a lot more accomplished, and that sense of accomplishment puts you in a positive mindset for doing more.



The number of times I’ve been in a meeting at work or having a conversation with a colleague and then an hour later needed to refer back to what was said and just can’t remember is way too high. Take notes of everything, that includes, but is not limited to: things you need to do, how to spell the names of important people, phone numbers, email addresses, words you don’t know, deadlines, and anything interesting you hear about because that way you can ask about it in conversation later.



Following on from taking notes, make sure you file those notes and everything else you do in a way that you can find them again later. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing you’ve got a document that could be really useful but having no idea where it is. I’m not going to suggest a system here because I think a lot of it is down to personal preference but I will say it’s worth putting a little bit of time into designing a system that works for you and reviewing it as you go.



If there are any tasks you find yourself doing a lot whether that’s scheduling social media posts, converting files or chasing up on invoices find out what you can automate and do it. Automating tasks can take a bit of time at first, but it is honestly so satisfying. I can’t explain to you the joy of creating a photoshop droplet and watching it edit 200 images for you – it is honestly just so magical. If there are things you can’t automate do them in batches. Working in batches can reduce setup time and makes small tasks a lot more efficient. I now take my blog/Instagram photos in batches unless they’re taken out and about, and I do all of my meal prep on a Sunday and it saves me so much time.



I’ve spoken about Freedom before in a run down of top apps for designers but I want to bring it up here again. Unless you’re a superhuman you probably can’t resist the temptation of all of the distractions the internet and your notifications have to offer. So use something like Freedom to block them so that you can focus on the task at hand rather than battling desire to keep hitting refresh.


Getting ready for school was so easy. You never had to think about what you were wearing, you never had to dress up or down you just wore what you wore and it was the same as everyone else. When I started work I realised quite how much I missed that simplicity. So, inspired by that nostalgia, and my desire to embrace a little bit more minimalism in my life I created a work uniform. While I’ve not quite gone as far as Matilda Kahl, who wears the exact same outfit to work every day, I do follow the same template and I’ve really curated what’s in my wardrobe.

I’m honestly so glad I’ve created a work uniform. Because I wear things from the same template every day, I don’t have to spend time picking out an outfit. I’m also a lot happier and more comfortable in what I’m wearing. I know that my uniform suits me and that all of the pieces I own go together because I invested some time in working out what I wear the most and what made me feel the most confident. Having a relatively set work uniform is a great way to feel like you have your own sense of style, in part because you do, or at least I think I do a bit more now.

Putting a work uniform together is kind of like putting together a capsule, or minimal, wardrobe. To find mine I used the coat hanger method, which is where you hang all your coat hangers the wrong way around, then turn them back when you’ve worn a piece. It’s a super simple way of working out what you do and don’t wear. I realised I wore trousers every day, but ignored the dresses and skirt I had taking up space. Once you know what you wear the most, refine that list down to 2 or 3 key outfit templates.

My work uniform is pretty basic. I wear the same black trousers (I own 2 pairs don’t worry) every day. They’re from Finery and are a mid-rise slightly cropped style. I’d like them to be a little wider on the calf, but they’ve been through a lot and worn well so I’m not going to complain. I wear the same pair of mono 1461 Doc Martens, unless I have a client meeting then I’ll wear a slightly less beaten pair of dual Monkton strap Docs. I do change up my choice of top, though. If it’s warm outside I’ll wear a collarless shirt, normally in white, although I do have one in dark grey I really like too. Sometimes I’ll wear a plain white shirt instead, but that’s only if it’s a casual day in the office. If it’s chillier I’ll wear a high neck jumper, with a t-shirt underneath. That’s about it, I don’t really wear many accessories other than my watch, Datter rings, and OMCH earrings, which I wear every day, and a plain black suede belt.

My uniform has seen me through placements in consulting, PR, and advertising and I’ve never felt out of place. I’d advise anyone starting a waiting a few weeks before you start the process so you know the kind of level of formality that’s expected. If, like me, you’re in a position where you’re moving offices and environments I’d suggest going somewhere non-committally smart casual, like a nice shirt and trousers or a simple dress that way you should be somewhere in the spectrum of what’s acceptable wherever you are and you can easily dress it up, or down, a little bit.

If you’re interested in minimal wardrobes more widely, which if you’ve gotten to the bottom of this you just might be, I’d highly recommend checking out Sophie’s blog The Life of a Private Girl, because it’s been a huge help/inspiration to me on my journey to becoming a bit more of a minimalist.

One of the questions I get asked the most (meaning perhaps twice) is how I find the time to do all of the bits and pieces I do. So, I thought I would answer that question in the form of one of my favourite kinds of posts to read, a week in the life. But, because most of my weekdays are the same, I’m going with a long weekend in the life Friday-Sunday.




Aaaand we’re off. I wish I could bring myself to be more of a morning person and get up earlier than 7, but I’m just really not. I work my way through most of the things on my 8 things to do before 8am list I: have a glass of water, attempt to have a quick stretch, get dressed, wash my face, check my plan for the day, and then attempt to get excited about the day ahead. I don’t meditate on a morning anymore, I’m just not in the right mood on a morning and now prefer to do it on an evening.


I head to the tube to practice my contortion skills on the Victoria Line.


I arrive at work, slightly worse for wear but in one piece. I grab some breakfast, which consists of a very exciting bowl of Weetabix, banana and a cup of tea. Then I get down to business doing all of those workish things you do at work, aka answering loads of emails.


It’s lunch time! I normally eat my lunch (this week a homemade savoury muffin, some crudites and an apple) at my desk because it means I can read whatever looking interesting on my Bloglovin as I munch. Then I head out to a nearby park to read my book, this week I’m working on NW by Zadie Smith which is pretty good – we’ll see if it makes it as a future book club pick.


Back to work – more emails.


Time to get back on the tube and head home.


As soon as I get home 3 nights a week, as I did on Friday, I go for a run. Most nights I’ll do 4-5km depending on how much time I have and how lively I’m feeling – I managed just over 4 that night. When I get back I reheat some dinner, vegetarian chilli, which is one of my favourites.


This is the hour and a bit where I do blog, or other creative work. I put some music on (Little Comet’s new album) and get down to business.


When the clock strikes 9, it means it’s time for me to unwind. I wrote out my relaxation routine in a lot of depth in my post about unwinding, so I won’t write it out here. Basically, it involves a shower, my pjs and some trashy TV.


My favourite time of the day – bed time!




Weekends I try to get up at around the same time, but quite often succumb to a lie in, as I did this weekend. But 8am isn’t too bad, right? Saturday mornings are my time for doing chores which means cleaning, laundry (lots of it), and going out to buy groceries.


I don’t really stick to proper meal times on a weekend in the way I do during the week. So this Saturday I stopped for a mid-morning soreen based snack, before doing a bit of blog work including some social media queueing and post designing.


It’s running time again! I went for a longer run on Saturday, which for me means 5km.


After showering and all pottering around, I head out for a dinner and a movie kind of evening.




Sundays mornings are my lazy mornings which can mean anything from breakfast in bed, to just staying in my pjs or this week it meant getting to read my book on a morning.


This doesn’t happen every week but this Sunday was a brunch with friends kind of day. I can highly recommend the French toast at Nanna’s in Islington – sooooo good.


This is when I get down to business and do the most creative work, whether that’s for the blog, a client or myself. I always try and have some time on a Sunday to do it. This Sunday I managed to crank out 4 pieces of design a couple for the blog, one personal, and one draft for a client.


Time for another run, this time back to the same 4km route I did on Friday.


Sunday evenings are one of my favourite times because it’s when I get to meal prep. I love cooking. But I don’t have much time to do it during the week, so I like to make as much food for the week ahead, both lunches and dinners, on a weekend. My food prep usually contains a soup, a main meal (without the carbs if it’s pasta or rice because I like them fresh) and whatever I’m having for lunches, plus usually some kind of baking. This week I made a tomato soup, some thai green curry, a salad for lunches, and made some of my favourite pb energy bites.


Once all my work and the week is done I have a big pamper evening, which is just a longer version of my relaxation routine and normally includes a no work TV and biscuits binge.


And that’s my week! All of this can change depending on the week, but this is probably a pretty good overview. As you can probably see I don’t do that much and rely quite heavily on routine to give my week some structure because that’s just how I function best.

To circle right back round to the start of this post and the question “how do I fit everything in?” by making time for it, having a plan, and not doing much else aside from the things that I feel I want/need to do. It’s all about prioritisation I guess.

I’m definitely a tidy desk tidy mind kind of person. I love having a clean environment and I know that I work best when my surroundings are clear and tidy. Even though I keep my space pretty ship shape most of the time, I’m planning on using the change of season as an excuse to have a proper deep clean and clear out. I find kon marie-ing my life every once in a while helps me kind of hit a reset button and really start work again feeling refreshed. If you’re looking to have a spring clean soon, this is the method I’ll be working through to make sure I’ve gotten into all of those nooks and crannies.


Clearing out your physical space is the most obvious first target of a spring clean. It’s also the one I enjoy the most so I like to get the ball rolling with having a proper tidy, before moving onto anything else.


This step is very much taken from Marie Kondo’s now seminal The Life Changing Magic of Tidying, it’s famous for a reason! I pull out all of my stuff and decide what I actually use and love. When I say all of my stuff, I really do mean everything. I go through my wardrobe right down to the underwear, I go through every pen and pencil on my desk checking they work and I use them, I check every beauty product is still in date and something I want, basically I audit everything I own. Now that I’m trying to buy more consciously this doesn’t lead to me throwing out quite as much as I used to, because I don’t have as much, but I’m still always amazed at how much rubbish (sometimes literally) that I’ve accumulated.


Actually cleaning is an essential, if obvious, part of a spring clean. While you’ve got everything out clean all of the things you wouldn’t normally bother with, I’m talking wiping out your wardrobe, dusting all of your bookshelf, vacuuming behind the bed etc.


As you’re putting all of your stuff away make sure everything has a place. What I mean by that is if, for example, you’re keeping all your old journals but you’re planning on just leaving them in a pile on the corner of your desk do something about it. Put them in a box, or on display on a bookshelf, or keep them organised in a magazine rack. This might require you going out to buy some supplies, but it will mean your space feels that bit tidier and is easier to keep uncluttered in the future.


Whenever I have a big clear out I like to also have a bit of a reshuffle so my space feels different. Not only does moving things around help change up your perspective it also acts as a bit of visual evidence that things have been cleaned and changed, because a lot of the work you do in a spring clean you don’t actually see because it’s in cupboards or behind beds. For me, that normally means I move around the display of pictures on my wall, or I move them to a different section of the room. When I was in my old room I would also move all of the furniture around, which isn’t as much of an option currently. But I will be moving some of the bits I have out like lights and books, to try and imitate some of that effect.



If you’re anything like me, you spend a significant chunk of your time on your laptop, meaning that your digital space needs to be cleaned out just as much as your physical space. While I’m good at trying not to accumulate pointless junk in the real world, I am as big of a tab and free download hoarder as they come. So, this is quite a big task for me.


Step 1 of this is just getting rid of any blinking unread emails, it always feels so good to get rid of that little red bubble on your inbox. Step 2 is going through and deleting anything I don’t need and saving anything I do need in the best way, even if that’s not in your inbox. In step 3, I delete my deleted box, and junk mail folder. Step 4 is then to use the control panel to make sure I’ve deleted any wasted data in my mail folder. By doing all of this not only do you end up with a much nicer, easier to manage, inbox, you also free up a load of all important disk space.


While I’m going through my inbox, I unsubscribe from any mailing lists I don’t actually want to be on. This is normally mainly made up of brand newsletters that I just automatically delete. I normally just search “unsubscribe” before I do the main clear out and go through all the emails I don’t want. I won’t lie, going through all of the unsubscription processes does take some time, but it’s an investment in for the time and happiness of your future self.


Once I’ve finished with my inbox I then move onto the rest of my hard drive. I go through all of my folders and archive anything I don’t need any more onto external hard drives. I also delete literally hundreds of things from my downloads folder that I had forgotten even existed. I also have a clean-up of my folder system so that it’s as efficient as it can be to try and make the job easier next time.


This one is more of a note to self than anything else, because I am one of those people who has 50 tabs open at one time, who pockets absolutely everything, and has a random assortment of bookmarks just in case. As the final stage in my digital clear out I will be clearing my browsing history, my cookies, and my stash of bookmarks. I’ll also be having a bit of a social media audit, unfollowing anyone I actively scroll past or who doesn’t brighten my time online.


I feel like it can be easy to forget to clear out your workspace, and by that I mean all of the work bits you have to do rather than your desk. Having a sort out of any rolling tasks or niggly pain points is a great way to feel like you really are starting afresh, and you’ve not just made surface changes.


I think we all have a couple of items on our to do lists that keep coming up, and we keep putting them off. For me, they include a couple of marketing things and taking out my recycling. A spring clean is a time to finally do them (or cross them off if you don’t actually think they’re useful) so that you can start with a clean slate.


While I don’t have any outstanding invoices, now would be a great time to chase them. I will, however, be going through my own finances and getting them in order.


If having a clear out is about resetting, it’s really important that you give yourself chance to reset. So, this one is a bit of a spring clean for your mind The final section of my clear out plan is taking a full day off work, off thinking about work, and just get my mind in order. I’m going to set aside some time to look after myself and blow off any cobwebs, so I can come back fresh and raring to go as the days get longer and brighter. I think this might actually be the hardest one on the list, but probably the most worthwhile.

Are you planning a spring clean this year? What’s on your hit list?

I am a big believer in the importance of relaxing and recharging in order to be at your best. Prioritising and making the most of my down time has become a real focus for me now that I work full time and then work on the side, either designing or working on this blog. I’m in a position, like many people, where I could very easily slip into working all of the hours in the day and then some. I’m also an introvert who works in an industry led by communicating and having a jazz hands personality, so when I get home I am socially exhausted. So, I thought I would share my recharging routine because I think I’ve just about nailed it to the extent that I can get most of the things I need to done and feel like I’m not starting to fizzle out.

I think that having a routine is essential in making sure you switch off at the end of the day. I promise I’m not just saying that because I’m a bit of a control freak who loves routines. Having a regular set of things you do to unwind at the end of every day, or when you really need to relax helps train your brain to chill out. A routine doesn’t have to be inflexible. If you’re someone who works odd hours and can’t commit to having a set wind down time, just try doing the same 2 or 3 things before you have your recharge. If you can’t commit a lot of time just try having 10 minutes without your phone or a screen every night, or using an app like headspace to meditate. If you think you’ll get bored by doing the same thing every night, try just setting aside a period of time every evening to do something relaxing like a craft or reading that you can change up as and when you get bored.

The nosey among you have probably skipped over that long intro in order to see what it is I actually do, well the wait, and the scrolling, is no more. This is the routine I normally follow on weeknights:



I try to start unwinding by about 9pm on most nights, but that can definitely fluctuate. I’ll normally start by tidying up my desk and anything I’ve just dumped when I came in after work. Then I put out my clothes for the next day if it’s a weeknight, and put anything that needs to be in my bag in my bag. Once I feel like I’m all settled and everything is in order, I’ll write my one good thing in my journal and do a little 2-minute painting in my painting every day book.



After I’ve done those bits I feel like I’m ready to actually start to unwind so I’ll light a candle, or put on my essential oil burner, and change up the lighting in my room by turning on my fairy light and turning off the big overhead lights I have. Then I get in the shower, which is 100% my favourite part of this. If it’s a special occasion or I’m not feeling great, I’ll put on some music while I’m being my best self under the hot water. Once I’m all clean, I get into my pjs, slip on my slippers, dry my hair, then wash my face.



If I’ve not spent waaaay too long in the shower by about 10PM I’m ready to make a mug of camomile tea, my favourite is Clipper’s ‘Snore and Peace’ blend. Tea in hand I get comfy and watch some rubbish TV, I’m talking superheroes or over worn detective shows that I don’t have to think about. If I haven’t done it already I’ll write my to do list for the next day.



Once I’m suitably zombified by a show governed by 8 second scene cuts I brush my teeth and sit down in my bed to do a quick meditation to sort out my thoughts. I then like to read my book until I feel my eyelids start to droop, marking that I am truly ready to go to sleep.


I realise that this is quite a long routine, that I’ve detailed quite extensively, but I thought it was best to be thorough here. I really enjoy the process of winding down and I’ve found that taking these 2 and a half hours out of my day has become essential to my being able to function at my best. That said, everyone needs to wind down in their own way, if you’re an extrovert you might want to do things with friends, if you hate TV you might not want to watch Arrow, if you’re a parent you might not have time to do half of this. But I hope you do have something that is your own that helps you destress and recharge. Whatever it is I’d love to read about it, I find these posts/videos weirdly calming in their own way – so please share them in the comments!