Time management is a critical skill in any workplace. It’s also a skill that a manager can teach through time management activities. It’s useful to do this in a way that’s not lecturing, while also including all employees. Even if all employees manage their time well, there’s always room to improve.
Whether you’re targeting perspective, organization, prioritization or any other facets of time management, there’s an activity tailored to that skill. Below are the ten best time management activities that help employees better manage their time.
*The following activities are listed in no particular order.
1: Ribbon Cutting
Gather your employees and show them a ribbon that’s 100 centimeters. Each centimeter represents a year. Cut it until the length equals the average lifespan. Then, trim away the group’s average age to show the time remaining in that lifespan.
Continue cutting the ribbon for things like family time, sleep, and other non-work obligations. At the end of the time management activity, you’ll have a short ribbon left. This provides perspective on how little time there is to work and how that time should be maximized.
2: Counting Minutes
Cover any clocks and make sure that employees don’t use their phones or watches. Tell them to sit quietly after you start the timer. Whenever they feel that a minute has passed, they should stand up. Once everyone’s ready, start the timer.
People will stand up at various times. This shows how your employees view time differently. At the end of this time management activity, your employees will have a better idea of their own perception.
3: Yesterday’s Activities
Provide your employees with a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil. First, ask them to write the five topics they expect to discuss at their next performance review.
Once that’s done, have them write ten things they did yesterday. It can be anything. When they finish that, tell them to mark the link between the second page and the first.
There will be attempts to make links in order to justify yesterday’s activities. For the most part, this time management activity will show employees things they do that don’t contribute to their goals.
4: Circadian Rhythms
This is another one of the time management activities that incorporate yesterday’s action. Have your employees write everything they did yesterday. Then, ask them about the energy level they had for each activity.
This demonstrates that natural energy levels fluctuate. It provides employees with an idea of when they can be at their most productive. You can post these energy rhythms on a wall to help employees understand how their optimal working times fit with others’.
5: Time Squared
As with the previous two time management activities, this one requires writing. Give employees a sheet of paper with 24 squares on it, each representing an hour. Have them fill out squares for routine activities outside of work. With a second paper, have them do the same for the time at work spent not working.
Later, hand out a third sheet. Ask them to fill in the squares from their first and second pages. The blank squares will be their productive time. This will show employees the time wasters they should eliminate.
6: Mayo Jar
You’ll need an empty jar with a variety of large and medium-sized rocks. Each employee should fill the jar with the rocks to the best of his or her ability. Time management activities like this one help employees see prioritizing as a hands-on process.
The larger rocks represent more important tasks, so it’s important to get those in the jar first. Be sure to help them make this connection and relate it to their work.
7: Colored Blocks
The colored blocks and mayo jar time management activities go hand-in-hand. You will scatter a number of colored blocks over a surface and instruct each employee to collect as many blocks as possible within a minute. They can only use their non-dominant hand, and they can only grab one at a time.
After that round, assign points to different colors. Let them play again, and discuss how the blocks worth the most points represent the tasks they should prioritize while working. This game also works great as an effective team building exercise.
8: Ace of Spades
Put two decks of cards on a table. Keep one just as it came in the package. Shuffle the other one thoroughly. Give one employee the shuffled deck, and give another employee the other deck. Have them race to see who can find the ace of spades the fastest.
The non-shuffled deck will consistently turn up the ace of spades first. An important aspect of time management activities is showing how much organization matters. The more organized the employee, the better the time management.
9: Making Boats
Split your employees into teams and have them elect a team leader. Take the team leaders aside and show them how to make a paper boat. Make sure they understand. Then, tell them to have their team produce 40 boats in 15 minutes.
This will help employees budget their time within a more real-world setting. More advanced time management activities like this one also serve to teach leadership, delegation, and teamwork.
10: Puzzle Challenge
Bring a big puzzle to work and ask your employees to put it together as fast as they can. Do not let them see the box. After they work at it for a few minutes, stop them. They likely won’t be having much success. Ask them why that is.
Before letting them start again, provide them with the box. They will be able to work much more efficiently. Discuss with them how individual tasks become easier to manage once they see the bigger picture.
Summing It Up
Time management activities serve a great purpose in engaging employees in their own development. They will see improvements they need to make and, in making them, improve the team as a whole. Implement these exercises whenever you get the chance.
Whether you use these specific time management activities or others like them, you will be doing yourself and your employees a huge favor.