Behind the Scenes

#TheProof: Carina Lawson Built a Global Brand & Reclaimed Her Health (While Raising Twins!)

September 6, 2022

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#TheProof is a series that celebrates the success of our community. We can’t be what we can’t see, which is why we proudly feature our students from across the globe who’ve made their dreams a reality. 

Carina Lawson describes herself as a “Brazilian-born, Arabian-Gulf raised, Brit-wed, twin-mum,” who’s also a cheese-lover, business analyst, and founder of the gorgeous planner brand, Ponderlily. We also love Carina because she’s a Time Genius!

Read on to learn how Carina:

  • Structures her time to joyfully run a planner company while working a full-time job AND raising twins.
  • Negotiated three extra weeks off her day job to travel — during their busiest season!
  • Reversed her diabetes and reclaimed her health after years of chronic illness and exhaustion.

Your planners are gorgeous. Everyone on the team has been drooling over them.

Thank you, that is so kind! I really try to make productivity tools that are sustainable. I genuinely believe people want to make empowered decisions with their time, but they feel like they can't. I created a planner that allows them to put themselves on the agenda. There’s a reason why the to do list section is small ;)

Planners have always been special to you, haven’t they?

From a very young age my mom would sit at the kitchen table and ask, “What do you want to do this weekend?” We’d tell her and she’d write it all down in her planner. Every year she’d get a new one and record our birthdays and family outings. It showed me that you need to be intentional about making time for the people you love.

“You need to be intentional about making time for the people you love.”

Tell me how the idea for Ponderlilly came to you.

When I got my first job I trained as a business analyst and quality management auditor. But then I had twins and remember saying to a friend, “I just don't have enough hours in the day. I want to do all these things and put my kids first, but I'm so tired.” I would show her my calendar and say, “Look. I just can't make it all fit!”

She said to me, “You know, if this planner doesn't work, why don't you make your own?” And I remember saying, “You know, maybe I should!”

How did you do it?

The company I worked for was going through a restructure and it was very hard to come into work, not knowing if you had a job. So every day I would come into the office and write an intention at the very top of my to-do list.

I didn't know it at the time, but that became the weekly spread for the first Ponderlily planner. 

During my lunch break, I would bring it down to my friends and ask, “Hey, what do you think about this?” They were just trying to eat but they gave me feedback! One friend even started teaching me design concepts like white space and branding and font choice. 

This is around the time you discovered Marie, right?

Yup. One day in between feeding my girls I Googled, “How do I start a business?” and there she was. I honestly didn’t think I could do it — I thought maybe I could make a planner, but start a business? But I joined B-School to learn how. I managed to find 15-minute pockets of time between feedings and built an entire business that way.  

That’s incredible!

One day I was having dinner with my mom. I had already hit “publish” on my Shopify website and I heard a ding. I'll never forget it because it was our very first sale. Some woman who lived in the States and worked in higher education found us, even though I was in Qatar. She's still a customer to this day!

So what prompted you to sign up for Time Genius? You really seem like the kind of person who has this time management thing all figured out.

Haha, I know a thing or two, maybe three, about time management. But the program upleveled my knowledge and mindset in ways I'll forever be grateful for. 

No one teaches like Marie. I've taken every program she has ever created. If Marie made a basket weaving course I would take that!

Hahaha…. Basket Genius!

Yes! But seriously, sometimes you need a little backup, you know? You need somebody in your corner to give you a fresh perspective. Especially when you’re an entrepreneur. 

What do you mean?

Before Time Genius, I felt like a car that wouldn't start. I had very little energy, but I would drink my coffee and I would drop the kids off at school and do my job and get the work done and pick them up and take them to their appointments. I was very, very tired. I felt flat and constricted, like my body couldn't keep up with my brain. 

I was successful, but I was overscheduled. I knew deep down that people were getting the rest of me instead of the best of me, even though I was dotting all the Is and crossing all the Ts, I felt like I was missing out on my own life. 

You’d gone through some health stuff too right? Do you mind sharing?

Not at all. Four days after having my twins, my mom came to visit. She took one look at me and said to my husband, “She needs to go back to the hospital.” Long story short, I had postpartum preeclampsia and I could have had a stroke. 

I thought, “I can't die. I need to be here to take care of my kids. They need me, my family needs me. I will do whatever it takes to take care of my family.”

Oh my god — way to go Mom!

Right? I had no headache, no symptoms, nothing. I just looked a little rundown. That was the first time I got very sick and I had to be in the hospital for a week. 

After that I thought, “I can't die. I need to be here to take care of my kids. They need me, my family needs me. I will do whatever it takes to take care of my family.” But I still felt tired. I've always been very active, so I went to the doctor and she said, “Your diagnosis is that you have twins.”

Oh no… 

I started getting acupuncture and taking vitamins, but something still felt wrong. Nobody could figure out what it was. A dear friend of mine is one of the best endocrinologists in Qatar, and when she saw me she said, “What the hell happened to you?” And I'm like, “Nothing. I'm just a little tired.” She's like, “No, no, come to the clinic tomorrow. I want to run some tests.”

She ran the tests and it turns out that I had Hashimoto's Disease and I was pre-diabetic. This had all been going on for God knows how long — I had all these conditions that make you super tired and I’d been pushing myself and pushing myself just thinking I was lazy.

That’s heartbreaking. What did you do?

When you have these types of conditions, you need more rest than most people. But in my head I was like, “I can’t take a nap in the middle of the day!” And I was mostly annoyed that I didn't have as much energy as the other moms. While the twins were little, one friend of mine said, “You know, if you just make your own almond milk….” 

That kind of response is the worst.

It really is. But it was so interesting because I always made sure my kids never missed a doctor's appointment and had healthy meals, but I kept rescheduling and rescheduling mine

Tell me about your decision to join Time Genius.

I was ready for a change. My health was going south very quickly. I wasn't exercising. I was finding time for everything else except taking care of me, because I thought I didn't have the time.

When I heard Marie had created Time Genius, there was no hesitation, because I knew she wasn't going to turn time management into a checks and balances situation. She teaches things in such a loving and caring way. In 30 seconds, she managed to layer the science with her own take on time management. 

I was on my lunch break, going through my phone when I saw her email and I just said, “Yeah. I’m in.” I could not wait to hear what she had to say. My skills had only taken me so far.

Did Time Genius help?

I feel great! I reversed my diabetes. I see a personal trainer three times a week. First I thought that doing it at 5:30 in the morning would make me a Time Genius, but I'm like, no, I don't wanna wake up that early. That’s what’s so great about Time Genius… it’s flexible. Marie knows that productivity is such a personal thing. 

So I workout after dinner and my girls sometimes come to the gym with me. My trainer loves it. They train with me or watch or color in the corner. I'm finally taking my thyroid medication. My energy levels are back up and I feel great. 

What would you say Time Genius gave you?

Time Genius gave me more. More days with my family. More energy. More peace.

That’s lovely.

It really is. Right now I'm in Newcastle, England and overlooking the very lovely English countryside. I just decided to take three weeks off from work, even though it is the high season in my nine to five.

Speaking of your day job, have you used Time Genius at work?

Oh my goodness, I’ve integrated all the Time Genius principles. I have my little printouts, I set my alarm for the exact time I stop being productive and I just… stop working. Then I use the rest of my day to plan, drink a big glass of water and wind down before I head home.

Then I drive home and listen to Ludacris or Beyonce and I'm just so energized! Before I was tired and depleted and I’d think, “Oh my God, I still need to get through dinner.” Now I feel like I have the whole evening ahead of me. I get to have dinner with my family! Afterwards we go for a walk or to the park. I did none of that before Time Genius. I was just... I was just very very tired all the time.

Before I was tired and depleted and I’d think, “Oh my God, I still need to get through dinner.” Now I feel like I have the whole evening ahead of me.

That’s incredible, I’m so happy for you Carina.

Time Genius really has been the best thing ever. I would've just gone on with the tools that I had and I would've still been feeling like something was missing. I would still be making excuses not to exercise. I would still be making excuses to just send one last email, you know? Now I'm a boundary boss. I know exactly when to turn my computer off and walk away. 

I never would’ve done any of this before. I would've never, ever prioritized my health because I thought I could get away with just one more email. I would rest when the work was done. 

It’s been almost a year since you took Time Genius, have these habits stuck?

Oh yeah. My life was busy before, but now my life is full. There's a big difference when you have a full life.

And in my business I’ve become LASER focused. I'm getting more of the right things done. I'm engaged in activities that directly impact my wellbeing instead of aimlessly scrolling through my phone which was causing havoc on my mental health. 

Without Time Genius I would still be doom scrolling, feeling sorry for myself as to why I wasn't further ahead in my business. Or I would have rescheduled my doctors appointments yet again, because I didn't have "time.”

I don't say this lightly because I've bought my fair share of online programs but Time Genius is life-changing. 

Thank you so much Carina! You’re amazing.

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