Do you know the feeling of never having enough time to do everything you want? You have different projects going on, want to learn new things, hang out with friends and sometimes you just want a lazy night on the couch watching a movie. As a Dutchie, I do like to plan, but somehow it seems that I never finish my to-do list for the day and I have to postpone things and change deadlines.

I was thrilled when Ben suggested to cover the next subject for our 2nd online event in May 2020 for TLR coworking Rincón de la Victoria (we were still in lockdown because of COVID-19). After trying different things, Ben discovered the best time & task management system for him. He explained to us how he ended up with his solution and how it works.

Be realistic

Ben was hyper-organized when working in the corporate world and it worked fine! The ‘trouble’ started when he started working on different projects outside of work. And they all needed the same focus and attention. On the same day. He started planning a fixed day per project, however, he was missing flexibility for spontaneous or unexpected urgent matters. So by the time that he was running two spaces for The Living Room Coworking in Málaga and working at his startup and doing another project on the side, it became obvious that in this case you can have the best time & task management system in the world, but this is just too much work. So first of all, Ben told us, it’s important to look at your workload and be realistic about the time you have and what you can do in these hours.

TLR Coworking Rincón community event

Ben’s discoveries about time-management

After quitting his corporate job and dumping his startup to dedicate all his time to TLR, Ben found out (by trial and error) what the most valuable time management hacks are for him to actually get things done. Below I give you three of the most important things he discovered and integrated into his way of planning and working:

Three misses

If you have something on your to-do list and you have postponed them to the next day or week three times in a row, discard them. Obviously, they were not so important after all!

Don’t plan for others

When you’re waiting for an answer from someone, don’t make it a task on your to-do list to chase them. If it’s important, trust that they will get back to you or that you’ll remember when the reply is taking too long.

Master your own time

Turn off your phone and email notifications and plan dedicated time to check them. If you check your email every half an hour and reply to everything you’ll get lost and lose time. Look at it as a meeting that you plan with your phone, email inbox or social networks just like how you plan a meeting with your coworker. 

To summarize: don’t make everything important, don’t be afraid to let things go and dedicate your time to the things that are important to you.

Daily plan on paper

Besides this Ben created his own weekly planner that he fills in every day to plan for the next day. Because planning ahead for a whole week does not give enough flexibility, he has some set tasks for each day and free time to plan deep work (cognitively demanding tasks). The ‘master list’ with ALL his tasks (without a date!) is in an online management system called Asana, and this way he can just pick the things that he wants to do the next day. 

66

On the bottom, you see ‘Challenge 66’, with a happy and a sad smiley face next to it. You might wonder what that means! I asked Ben and he told me that for him it’s a challenge to actually finish work at 6 pm and go home. The second 6 represents a maximum of 6 cheat days per month, on which he works longer. If he finishes later than 6 pm more than 6 times per month, he owes his girlfriend a fancy dinner! Challenge 66 is on!

Time-management is very personal

Of course, it really depends on the person and the job how to organize your work best, but these tips from Ben definitely helped me to organize and plan better. Besides that, it was a relief to know that I’m not the only one struggling. And that it takes time. By trying different things you find out what works best for you. Anyway, I have added it to my to-do list!

How do you manage your time and to-do list? Share your thoughts, advice and ideas in the comments! 

Since our first April online community meeting, Spain began its de-escalation process, with a gradual lifting of restrictions. As we step forward into the ‘new normal’ we continue working on creating a beautiful and comfortable workspace to connect freelancers, entrepreneurs and digital nomads in Rincón de la Victoria. Sign up and stay up to date with community events and the news of our new coworking space.