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Time Management Activities

Looking for a Time Management activity? Try one of these, that I’ve collected from a variety of LinkedIN discussions  (if you want additional time management resources, Office Oxygen might have what you need):

The Mayo Jar

Divide the group into teams and give them each a large glass container. The Mayo Jar is to be filled with as much material as possible. The material can be rocks, stones, gravel, sand etc.. (But you can use anything.) The larger materials should be placed in the container first and then followed by the next to the largest, and so on… In this order you should be able to fit the most into the container.

You can come to your own conclusion for the activity based on your need. The rocks (due to size) would be the most important items to complete. (Can be home activities…work/life balance.) Then stones would be every day has to finish items. Gravel can be the projects that need completed. Sand could be the extra work that was just assigned to you.

I allow the groups to fill their own container without detailed instructions. I tell them to fill their containers with as much materials as they can. And then we talk about the order they selected. If they had an order…and what the materials represents to them…etc. I use this communication to lead into training. Mayo Jar materials can be found here.  Posted online by Darlene Bailey


For a video that exemplifies this exercise, click here or here.

$86,400

Tell participants they have $86,400.00 to spend anyway they wish. The only restrictions are that they cannot bank any money and if they do not use any of the money they lose it. We then discuss why and how they spent the money the way they did. I then tell them that 86400 are the number of seconds we have each day and that as often as possible they should consider spending their time on things that are important to them as they did with their money. Posted online by Joseph Argenio

Ribbon of Life

Take a colored ribbon length approximately 1 meter/100 cms and scissors.
Start with the following questions:

  1. If the life span of an individual say 100 years each cm is one year. The response will be no only 70 to 75 years, then cut 25 cms of the ribbon and throw away say its 75 years.
  2. What is the average age of the participants sitting here, response would be 25 to 30 depends on the group, in that case cut another 25 cms of the ribbon say that is gone you cannot do anything.
  3. What is left is 50 years? People will say, “Yes,” but the answer is NO.
  4. Every year we have 52 weeks, that is 52 Sundays. If we multiply that by 50 years, it comes to 7.14 years. Reduce the ribbon by another 7.14 cms.
  5. We also usually have Saturdays off, so reduce another 7. cms.
  6. Public/National holidays are 10 multiple with 50 years. That comes to another 1.5 years. Reduce ribbon by an other 1.5 cms.
  7. Your casual leave, sick leave and annual holidays approx. 40 days a year, multiplied by 50.  Cut off another 5 cms. Now you are left with about  29.5 years.  But, the calculation is not over yet.
  8. You sleep average 8 hour daily multiple with 365 days an again by 50 years  ( i.e. 122 days X 50 = almost 17 years). Cut off another 17 cms.
  9. You spend time eating lunch, breakfast, snacks and dinner total 2 hours daily (i.e. 30 days a year X 50 years= 4 years or so). Cut off another 4 cms.
  10. Last, let’s figure we spend about 1 hour a day traveling from place to place for activities and such.  (that’s about 2 more years). We’re down to 6 (SIX ) years of life to make it or break it.

ALL THE BEST TO MAKE BEST USE OF THAT (SIX) YEARS.

Posted online by Joseph Antony

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Time Management Icebreaker – Lists & Priorities

Explanation

Divide participants into teams of five to eight. Unveil the numbered list of tasks. Explain that they have ten minutes to collect as many points as possible. They must be safe and they only have ten minutes!

Activity

Give participants ten minutes to perform their tasks, and enjoy the show! After ten minutes, add up their points using your pre-designed matrix and announce the winner. Keep the list of tasks; you may want to tape it to the wall.

Debrief

After the activity, discuss learning points. Possible discussion topics include:

  • How did teams decide what tasks they wanted to do? Most groups will analyze the time the task will take and/or the difficulty level, compare it with the value (possible number of points), and prioritize as a result. We do this when managing our time, too: we often choose the high-yield, low-effort tasks over the low-yield, high-effort tasks (and rightly so!).
  • Are any decisions based on task dependencies? For the name card task, for example, teams received bonus points if they used team nicknames. Performing these two tasks together would triple the points received. This often happens in life, too – batching tasks increases your results exponentially.
  • What group dynamics came into play? If participants knew each other before, they may feel more comfortable performing a personally risky activity, like singing a song. This comes into play when prioritizing tasks, too; we’re more likely to stay within our comfort zone, especially if we’re working in a team.

Preparation

Write out the following list on a piece of flip chart paper. Ensure that it stays covered until the end of the activity explanation.

  1. Do a lap around the room (5 points)
  2. Create something for the instructor to wear, such as a hat or tie (10 points; bonus 5 points if the instructor actually wears it)
  3. Find out something unique about each person on the team (5 points)
  4. Sing a song together (15 points)
  5. Make a paper airplane and throw it from one end of the room to another (10 points)
  6. Get everyone in the room to sign a single piece of paper (5 points)
  7. Count the number of pets owned by your group (20 points)
  8. Assign a nickname to each member of the team (5 points)
  9. Create name cards for each team member (5 points; bonus 5 points if you use your team nicknames)
  10. Make a tower out of the materials owned by your group (10 points)
  11. Convince a member of another team to join you (20 points)
  12. Name your team and come up with a slogan (5 points for the name, 5 points for the slogan)
  13. Re-create the sounds of the Amazon rainforest with the sounds of your voices (10 points)
  14. Make a list of what your team wants out of the workshop (15 points)
  15. Form a conga line and conga from one end of the room to another (5 points; bonus 10 points if anyone joins you)

You can customize this list as you wish; just make sure there is a point value (which is completely up to you) assigned to each item.

Posted online by Rasha Alshafie


Blind Polygon

Set up:  Depending on your group size you may have to divide your group into teams of 9 -15 players.  Blindfold each person. (NOTE: If you have more people than blindfolds then require them to close their eyes. Let them know that trust and integrity are key to a successful outcome.)

The Challenge:  Place a length of rope in the center of the circle. Explain that their task is to form the rope into a shape of your choosing–a square, a “Z,” or a pentagon. Everyone must be in contact with the rope at all times and they must use the entire rope. No tangles or knots are allowed. When the group feels they have made whatever shape you specified they can set it on the ground and take their blindfolds off.

Debrief: During the event you will see all sorts of personality styles, leadership styles, communication styles and a definite pecking order. Regarding Time Management, the group’s process is often very hectic. You can discuss team time management or use the experience as a metaphor for personal time management, asking “what is the most efficient way to accomplish a task?” The group will find that when they are deprived of sight, their normal their normal ways of accomplishing a task are thrown into confusion. As part of your debrief talk about what process they would use if they were to do the exercise again. This is also a great processing tool for management training because I can assure what happens when they are blindfolded will not be what happens at the office.

Posted online by Larry Riggs

 

“Big Picture” Puzzle Challenge

The Challenge:  Divide your group into teams. Give each team a puzzles with similar level of difficulty. Don’t give them the “Big Picture” of what it will look like when completed.

Push them to complete the puzzle as quickly as possible. Interrupt the process after about 3 minutes and ask, “What’s missing? What’s making this difficult?” Likely they will identify the absence of the completed “Big Picture” to use as a guide. After you give them the big picture, ask them to complete the puzzle. They will do this much faster now.

Debrief: Explain that having the perspective andclarity of the Big Pic helps one to plan weekly and day-to-day activities much more effectively. If NO Big Picture is available, then time is spent on urgencies, likes and what others want one to do.

Posted online by Ajit Kamath

 

How long is a minute?

At the beginning of session I ask people to close their eyes for 30 seconds and after that to open it. Nobody can watch the clock and I don’t measure the time. All I ask of participants is to open their eyes after what they believe has been 30 seconds.

Of course, they all open them at different times. Afterwards, we talk about our understanding of time. Even though everyone has an equal (24 hours a day or 30 seconds for excercise), in fact, we experience it and use it in different ways. Some of us experienced it as a short period, other as a long. This always works as a good opener.  Posted by Darko Todorovic

Another more physical variation of this exercise was posted by Prasad Narayan Susarla. He wrote:  Cover all the clocks in the room, then ask participants to remove their wrist watches and stand up. Instruct them to sit down when they think 1 minute has elapsed after you shout “Start” to begin the countdown. You will be surprised with the results. Just enjoy the fun that follows this activity. To make it more interesting I run this same activity a second time wherein I change the time to 2 minutes.

Time Squared

I give the participants 3 pages with 24 squares (representing 24 hours of a day) printed on them at various phases of the program. For the more finicky ones I have a sheet that further divides the Hour Square into 4 Quarters.

1) Hand the 1st page to them immediately after setting the context. Ask them to fill the squares (based on the time they spend) and label them with routine activities of their regular day like sleeping (6 hours = 6 squares), bathing, eating, travel, TV time etc.

2) Hand the 2nd page out after you’ve discussed “Time Wasters.” This time, ask them to fill the squares based on the time they spend on non-productive time at their workplace like tea-breaks, water cooler chats, personal telephone calls and emails etc.

3) Late in the day, distribute the 3rd page. Ask them to collate the data from “Page 1” and “Page 2” on the 3rd Page. The empty squares represent their productive time. Using the 3rd page the participants are asked to identify activities from which they can Mine Time to increase their productive time.

Learning outcome : Identify time wasters and time spent on routine activities. Where to mine for time. Posted online by Prasad Narayan Susarla

Check out Office OxygenAce of Spades

This exercise requires two volunteers and two decks of playing cards. I give one deck of cards to each volunteer and then have them race to find the Ace of Spades. What they don’t know is that one deck is in order Ace – King, in the correct suits, and all facing the same direction. The other deck is all mixed up and some cards are facing forwards and some backwards making it a lot harder to find the Ace of Spades. They have fun racing, but usually the person with the mixed deck gets frustrated or complains that it’s not fair. It’s fun and a good way to relate good organization skills to time management. Posted online by Clay Pennington

The Money Value of Time

If you only have one hour – and especially for a business audience – focus on creating a new conceptual mindset called the “money value of time.”  Have participants break down their activities into cost and profit centers, and then focus on investing their time in those activities that yield the highest value for them personally and for the firm. Posted online by Tim Phillips

What I did Yesterday . . .

Ask the delegates to jot down 10 things they did at work yesterday ( no order, no prompts, no comments).Next, on a separate sheet of paper, ask them jot down the 5 topics that they expect to discuss at their next appraisal/performance review. Have them look at the two lists together and mark in some way on the first list all the things which have a direct link to the second list. (Delegates may try to make indirect links to justify why they did certain things!)

The ‘light bulb’ moment is the recognition that we spend time on things which have little or no consequence to our performance. I usually ask them to plot the list of 10 things on an “Importance/Urgency” grid. They need to concentrate on the “important & urgent/non-urgent(therefore, planned) activities.  I like this activity as it clearly links performance with activity. Posted online by Murali Iyer

Paper Boat

All you need for this one is some newspaper. Divide your group into teams of 4 to 5 members each. Ask them to select/elect a Team Leader.

Then take all the team leaders out of the training hall and teach them to build a paper boat.   To make sure they understood, have each person build their own boat with the small square piece of paper you give them. Before you dismiss your leaders, share these instructions:

  • I am giving  you 4 sheets of paper (the sheets you give them should be rectangular in shape).
  • Your job is to build 40 boats all of the “Same Size” & “All must stand or should not sink flat when the activity is over.”
  • Quality (shape, finishing, appearance) and Quantity 40 boats both is important.
  • Time frame is 15 minutes max. from the moment you go to your team.

Now let them complete the task; give them 15 minutes.

Debrief

  1. Did the Team Leader clarify the goal to the team members?
  2. Where the roles clarified the team as to who will do what?
  3. Did the team members get overwhelmed by the activity or understood what is important?
  4. What was the focus on – Important or completion?
  5. What style of leadership did the team leader play?
  6. Did the team members ask for clarifications role/goal?
  7. Was there any planning for the use of Newspaper, people and the time available?
  8. How can they relate “boat making” to “doing work” in the organization?

Posted online by Bharat Thanggaraaj

Circadian Rhythm

Ask each participant to plot their day from waking up to going to sleep in hourly blocks and ask them to identify if they are naturally:

  • ‘on fire’
  • ‘vibrant’
  • ‘cruise control’
  • ‘at 70%’
  • ‘distracted’
  • ‘slowing down’
  • ‘tired’
  • ‘hungry’

The key is to get them to not think about their workload but their natural energy levels so try and focus them to think about a typical day off. Ask them to link this to workplace time management…when you are ‘on fire’ you should be tackling the big important tasks as you are more likely to get it done, and when you are lethargic you should do the mundane filing etc.  If you have participants post their rhythm on a wall, it can be eye-opening for individuals and for teammates to know more about their colleagues.

Posted online by Richard Armitage

Colored Blocks – great for prioritizing

Take blocks of different colours put them on table and explain the task–each individual must pick up as many blocks as they can in the allocated time frame, with these ground rules:

  1. They must pick up with their non-dominant hand
  2. They may only pick up one block at a time.

Give them a minute to minute and half.  When time is up, record their name and number of blocks collected on a flip chart.  Celebrate the winner, then spread out the blocks again for Phase 2. Before starting the second phase, arbitrarily assign values to the block colors (i.e. yellow block 1 point, red 2 points, etc.).  Repeat the exercise. Now they must reflect the number of blocks as well as number of points. Debrief can then focus on the need to prioritize.  Posted online by Kevin Smith

Hungry Chick Inn

In this in-depth exercise, available from the Trainers’ Library (www.glasstap.com), teams are given the challenge to re-open an inn to receive guests in 13-days time, with a huge number of tasks and a limited budget.  Success requires planning, organization, time management, teamwork, and project management.  Allow 90 minutes, plus debriefing.  Posted online by Rod Webb


17 thoughts on “Time Management Activities”

  1. Wonderful sharing. I was in search of some activities. This site is going to help me a lot.

    Thanks a lot once again.

  2. To know about this page makes me so amazed and happy. I found so many interesting, fun and helpful activities for my job as a trainer. Really appreciate your kind sharing. Wish you all the best!

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