Time management is a skill. And like any other skill, you can improve it. And that’s when time management activities come in handy.
They help you sharpen your time management skills. And so you become more productive with your time and strong work-life balance.
Let’s be honest:
Many of us wish that we could tag a few extra hours onto the clock.
And we only spend a small part of that time dedicated to our workday. You need to be productive and get things done during that short timeframe.
And so we complain about not having enough time:
- “I never complete my to-dos for the day” (here’s my recommended to-do list format)
- “My coworkers are always interrupting me” (so you never get a chance to complete Deep Work)
- “I waste a lot of time in pointless meetings”
- “I spend a lot of time everyday processing email” (here’s how to transform it into a GTD Gmail and email productivity)
- “Although I do lots of things, I never feel I’m making progress” (Productivity = Meaningful Work + Progress)
No wonder time management is the most important skill to learn and master.
So how do you develop good time management skills?
One great way to learn how to be more efficient at work is by using time management activities.
The 7 Most Effective Time Management Activities to Practice on Your Own and With Colleagues
Learning new skills by playing games can be far more efficient. And it’s more fun than looking for training resources to help you master a new task.
Want to become more productive and manage your time better?
Here are the 7 best time management activities you can use to improve your time management skills.
We call this first time management activity $86,400.
It’s an excellent exercise to comprehend the importance of using time wisely.
You can play on your own or with a group of colleagues.
Here are the rules:
- Everyone has $86,400 dollars to spend
- You can do anything with this money, except for multiplying their current sum
- You must spend it within a day. Otherwise, you lose it
- And you can’t bank more money per day
Have your team write down how they would spend their $86,400.
When everyone has completed their list, gather your team and discuss why and how they spent the money.
As you’ve guessed by now, this time management activity is not about money.
Each day has 86,400 seconds and how you choose to spend them makes a world of difference.
What happens when you approach your time with this kind of mentality?
You can better manage your daily activities and get the most out of the things that you choose to pursue.
Write this reminder down and keep it near your workspace so that you remember it on a daily basis.
2. Filling the Jar “Mayo Jar” (aka The Jar of Life)
This game focuses more on the use of time rather than just the value of the time.
- A large jar for each participant
- Materials such as large rocks, gravel, and water
Ask your team to fill the jar with all the materials.
The goal? To try to get everything into the jar.
Anyone playing the game is going to put certain things in their jar impulsively.
They may fill it first with water and gravel, leaving little to no room for the large rocks.
The only way to fill the mayo jar with all the materials? Putting rocks first, gravel second, and water last.
Here’s the lesson:
Think your jar as if it were your day and your materials as if they were your tasks.
Your daily goal is to figure out how to best place each item into a confined space. And you want to make everything work cohesively.
The rocks represent the most important tasks. Your lifetime goals. Your frogs. What you must get done to improve your work and career. Even without the pebbles and the sand, the jar would still be full and your work would still have meaning.
The pebbles are the other things in your work. They are smaller tasks or projects but still add value to your work.
Finally, water is the non-important stuff. They don’t mean much to your life as a whole. Spend little time doing them.
If you start by putting sand into the jar, you will not have room for rocks or pebbles.
This holds true for the things you let into your life too.
Take care of the rocks first, the really important things. Set your priorities, because everything else is just water.
You can’t do big things if you’re distracted by small things.
3. The Big Picture Blind Puzzle Solving
Puzzles are a great team-building exercise. Used correctly, they are also one of the best time management exercises too.
For this exercise, get with a team of people and have someone choose from a box of puzzles.
Do not look at the picture on the front. Instead, throw all the pieces into the area where you are working and get started.
You may make some progress after you start. But chances are that you are going to struggle quite a bit while you are trying to put the puzzle together.
Take a moment to think and ask:
“What’s missing here?”
After you’ve forced yourself to struggle, find the top of the puzzle box. As soon as everyone sees what the puzzle is supposed to look like, putting it together is going to be a lot easier.
The key takeaway from this game? Things are much harder to do without directions or the bigger picture.
The same happens when you sit down to do work with no goal for the day or no list of priorities. You work blindly, which is inefficient and makes getting the rest of your tasks done a hassle.
Instead, take the time you need to craft a list of tasks before you get to work.
Here’s a simple system. Ask yourself the following questions:
- “What tasks you need to do?”
- “How long it will take you to do the tasks?”
- “How you can be more efficient in the tasks?”
And you will be able to learn better management and boost your productivity.
4. The Minute Challenge
You will need a team of people for this time management exercise. This one will teach you quite a bit about how you perceive time and how it impacts your workday.
Get together with a group and have all the group close their eyes, except for one person. This person stands on the side and keeps track of time.
Set a timer and have each individual close their eyes and sit down when they believe a minute has passed.
As you may have already guessed, not everyone is going to sit down at the same time. Instead, all participants may sit down at different times.
What this teaches us is that our perception of time can be very different from the actual passage of time. Certain tasks may take us far longer than we think they do, which can derail our whole schedule.
This challenges everyone to think about how they are using their time. And perhaps they’ll find they are not using it as effectively as they believe.
5. Desert Island
During some point in your life, you may have been asked the question:
“If you were marooned on a desert island and you could only take three things with you, what would you bring?”
This game puts a minor twist on this question.
Get together with a group of people and have them all envision that they have been trapped on a desert island.
Set a time limit. Give everyone two minutes to write down items that they would need to take to the island. Explain that they will get points for essential items and no points for nonessential items.
For many, this type of game can be a shock. Why?
Well, if you’re not used to managing your time, figuring out your priorities and how they can work in your favor in a limited amount of time can be challenging.
This game forces all players to think about not only what they would need, but how they can get more points in the required time frame.
This is very similar to your professional life.
If you only have nine hours to take care of your tasks and you have to make sure that you are getting the most value out of the tasks you choose to do, you are going to be far more careful about how you are using your hourly blocks and picking your tasks.
This will also help you to identify distractions – like social media – that may be holding you back from getting the most value.
After all, not all work adds value to your life.
6. Finding the Ace of Spades
For this time management game, you are going to need only two individuals and one leader to play it.
Here are the rules:
- Have the leader give each player two decks of cards.
- Then, instruct all players to flip the decks over and to slap the ace when they have found it.
- The goal is to find all the aces faster than the other player.
But here’s what the players won’t know:
One deck has been shuffled so that finding the ace has been completely randomized. But the other deck has been organized so that all the aces are at the top of the deck.
As players begin the game, it will be clear that the player with the organized deck has an unfair advantage over the mixed deck player.
Make sure that this notion gets challenged as this is vital to making sure that the purpose of this game is recognized.
Tell players to imagine that these decks of cards were schedules.
- One player has a schedule that is completely randomized. And that means that they have to go through the whole deck to achieve their goal
- But the second player, on the other hand, has a schedule that has been properly organized. And that means that they are getting to the most important goals first
Time management activities aren’t about winning and losing. But there are advantages to making sure that you have a properly organized schedule of your daily tasks.
And now your team members can apply this lesson to their professional life and improve how they use their time.
7. The Blind Polygon
We often have a fair amount of time to prepare for certain tasks. But sometimes we are thrown unprepared into individual or group projects.
This time management activity is an excellent teaching tool for those situations.
In this game, have one leader and many players get into a small group.
Each player is blindfolded and has a length of rope. They will have to organize this rope into a specific shape specified by the leader.
The leader should also set a timer for the group.
Here are the rules:
- No one can take their blindfold off
- Every individual must be touching the rope at all times
Let the group go and form their shape. Chances are that all players are going to be confused and have a difficult time forming the shape.
But after finishing the first game, replay it a couple more times. This will allow them to figure out how they can better tackle the task.
This game forces players to analyze how well they are handling tasks within a given time limit.
During the initial game, they panic and perform poorly as a result. But once they need organizational and analytical skills to perform better, they will figure out new and better ways to get the job done.
Are you looking to challenge yourself and others?
This is an excellent game to teach time management, team building, analytical skills, leadership skills, problem-solving skills, and productivity.
Time Management Activities: Field Notes and Lessons
Here are the key takeaways from the time management activities above:
- Time is Limited. You only have so much time in the day. Pay attention to how much time you have and use that time to achieve your goals.
- Organization is the Key to Success. A quick performance is not always an excellent performance. If you want to get the most out of your time, you have to learn how to organize and prioritize your tasks. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting time and getting little done.
- You Should Always Look for Better Ways to Achieve Your Tasks. There are always ways to be more efficient. Ask yourself: “Is there a more efficient way I could do this?” This skill will help you handle larger workloads and improve your performance.
Use these time management activities to improve your own and your team’s performance.