Time management activities are helpful in teaching a group (and even yourself) how to manage your time better and be more productive.
And that’s vital.
When your employees (or volunteers, etc.) aren’t productive, it not only hurts them in their careers, but it hurts your company or organization.
It means less work done, less profit, and less impact. And it brings more stress, frustration, and overwhelm.
In this article, I compacted different time management activities from different sites into one article to help you find what you need, faster.
Table of Contents
1. The Mayo Jar
The mayo jar activity demonstrates the importance of doing the most important tasks first. You have an empty jar and some large rocks, smaller rocks, gravel, sand, and water.
Depending on what objects you put in first determines how much of the other items you can put in afterward. If you put sand in first, nothing else will fit (except some water), but if you start with the big rocks (our most important tasks) and go down, you can fit some of everything in.
2. Delegation Skill Practice
In this time management activity, the scenario is that you have a new assistant and can now delegate some of your tasks to the assistant.
The group is divided into groups of 3: a delegator, an employee, and an observer. The delegator practices delegating, and the observer has a sheet that helps give feedback on how well the delegator did and what they need to do to delegate well. Each person gets a turn.
Learn more at TCM.
READ MORE: The Definitive Guide to Delegation
3. Dealing with Distractions
Distractions can be deadly to productivity. In this time management activity, you identify your distractions and then come up with solutions to solve them.
One way is to track your time over a span of a few days. Of course, you may be able to just recognize some of the distractions in your life. Write them down. Then work on strategies to overcome them.
If you do it as a group, work together as a class or in groups. Write out your distractions and then discuss solutions."Distractions can be deadly to productivity." ~ Thomas R. Harris Click To Tweet
4. Time Squared
Each person gets 3 pages with 24 squares that represent the 24 hours of the day.
- On the first page, participants fill it out with routine activities of their day.
- The second page is for the non-productive time they use at work.
- On the third, they add everything from the other two onto it. The empty space left is productive time.
They can then see what they can reduce or eliminate to increase their productive time.
5. Arrange the Cards
In this activity, you divide the group into different teams.
Each team gets a deck of cards that they are supposed to arrange in a set order defined by you as fast as they can (a competition between teams). They will get 5 minutes to strategize and practice and then do three rounds.
This activity teaches the importance of planning, having a good strategy, and delegating tasks well.
Learn more at TCM.
6. Circadian Rhythms
In this activity, each person has a paper with hourly blocks. They then list during that time what energy state are they in.
For example, are they “on fire”, “at 70%”, “slowing down”, and so on? The point is to help people see when their highs and lows are so that they can maximize their time better.
7. Time Wasters
The goal of this activity is to learn how to overcome time wasters.
The group is divided into four teams. Each team is given an envelope that contains four index cards, and a time waster is listed on the back of the envelope.
The team gets three minutes to write as many ways to overcome that time waster and write it on one index card. Then they pass the envelope to the next group, and so on.
Afterward, each team can present their results, and all can vote on the best ones, or however, you want to go over the results.
Learn more at TCM.
8. Lists & Priorities
In this activity, you have a list of tasks each worth a varying amount of points.
You divide the group into teams and they have 10 minutes to finish the tasks. Afterward, you tally the points. Then you discuss with them how they prioritized and so on.
Learn more at WorkSMART.
9. Puzzle Challenge
You divide your group into teams and give them a puzzle to work on.
However, you do not give them what the picture looks like, the “big picture”. After a few minutes, you ask them what is missing and what is making it difficult. They will likely say they don’t have a picture of what it is supposed to look like. Then you give it to them.
The point of this exercise is to show the importance of seeing the big picture when planning and choosing our activities.
10. Breaking Bad Habits
In this exercise, the group works in pairs. Each person writes on a piece of paper what stops them from managing their time more effectively.
Then the two work together to come up with solutions. You then can bring it before the group in turns.
Learn more at Learnhigher.
11. How Long is…
There are a few ways to do this time management activity. The point is to show, even though we have the same amount of time, how we can view and experience time differently.
You have each person stand up, sit down, or open their eyes once they think a minute is up. They will see that most people sit, stand, or open their eyes at different times.
12. Ace of Spaces
In this activity, you have two volunteers and two decks of cards.
The two volunteers race to see who can first find the Ace of Spaces. One deck is in order and by suit, and the second deck is mixed up with some cards turned backward, etc.
The point is to show how an organization can affect time management and productivity.
13. The Ribbon
The point of this time management activity is to show how much time we really have in our lives to accomplish things.
The length of the ribbon represents our life. Throughout the activity, you cut parts off for the days we take off, for the time we sleep, for the time we eat, for sick days, and so on.
In the end, you have a ribbon much shorter than we first thought. It shows the importance of using the time we have well.
14. Money Value
Each person breaks down their activities into cost and profit centers. They then focus on investing their time into the activities that yield the greatest value.
Learn more at WorkSMART.
15. Performance Review (What I did yesterday)
Each person writes out 10 tasks they did the day before. Then on another paper, they write out five topics they think they will discuss at their next performance review. They then look at both papers to see if their tasks match what is important for their performance review.
There are numerous ways to do this time management activity.
You can have each person with $86,400 to spend, or you can have it done as a team where they have a flipchart or paper to write out how they will spend the money. The only restriction is that they have to spend it all in one day or lose it. You can’t save it.
This represents our time. There are 86,400 seconds in a day. What we don’t invest wisely, we lose. We can’t save time for later.
17. Colored blocks
With this activity, each person or group gathers as many blocks as they can in a minute with their non-dominate hand. They get a point for each.
Then you play it again with different point values for different colors. The point of this exercise is to teach prioritization.
Final Thoughts on Time Management Activities & Exercises
As you can see, there are a variety of activities that you can use to teach different aspects of time management. Use them and customize them as you see fit.
Now to you: what other time management activities have you found useful in teaching yourself or others to manage their time better? Let us know in the comments below.