Time management activities are very useful tools to engage and motivate participants during a time management training session.
We have listed below 7 fun activities that you, as a trainer, can use during your time management training sessions.
1. How Long Is One Minute?
This is one of the simplest time management training activities, yet a very effective one. It is particularly good for starting a training session and to get participants thinking about time.
What You Will Need
For this activity, you will just need a timekeeping device, so you know when one minute has passed.
- Ask participants to stand up and close their eyes.
- Then ask them to sit down quietly (so that the other participants cannot hear them) when they think that one minute has gone.
- Once everybody has sat down, you start the discussion.
What will happen is that participants will sit down at different times. So, you can point out to them that time depends heavily on perception.
By asking participants when time goes faster for them and when, instead, time never seems to pass, you can introduce to them the idea that passion, time and productivity are connected.
2. The Jigsaw Puzzle
The jigsaw puzzle is one of those time management training activities that help participants understand the importance of knowing what they want, before they decide how to spend their time.
What the Trainer Will Need
As a trainer, this time management activity is simple to organise but you will need to find a few jigsaw puzzles, all with the same level of difficulty.
Instructions for the Jigsaw Puzzle Time Management Training Activity
- Divide your participants into groups of 3 to 5 people per group.
- Give each group a puzzle but NOT the image with the big picture, so that they cannot see what the image looks like when the puzzle is finished.
- After about three minutes, stop the process and ask: ‘What is missing?’ ‘What is making solving the puzzle difficult?’ It is likely they will say that it is because they cannot see the big picture that they are working towards.
- Now, give them the big pictures and they should complete the puzzles much faster.
The point of this time management training game is that it is very hard to work efficiently and in a timely manner, without knowing the ultimate goal we are aiming towards.
3. Coloured Items – Time Management Training Activity
The aim of this time management game is to discuss the importance of organisation and prioritization for time management.
What You Will Need for This Activity
For this time management training activity, you will need a set of items of different colours.
The items can be coloured blocks, crayons of different colours, playing cards, sweets wrapped in different colours etc. As long as you have a certain number of items in each colour.
- Divide participants into groups.
- Provide each group with a set of items of different colours. So, give each group, for example, 6 green items, 6 blue, 6 red and 6 yellow.
- Ask each group to collect, in 1 minute, as many blocks as they can. Each person can only use their non-dominant hand. Each item is worth 1 point.
- Ask the groups to play again but, this time, assign a different point value to each colour.
- After one minute has passed, stop the game.
- Add up the points and nominate the winning group.
You can start the discussion after the game, by asking groups: ‘What was your strategy for playing the game the second time around?’
The discussion should highlight that good organisational skills, planning and coordination are essential to achieve more in the shortest amount of time.
4. Time Management Prioritisation Exercise
This activity is not a game, but rather it is a discussion to be done in small groups, before each group explains the outcome to the rest of the class.
This exercise is one of those time management training activities that guide participants towards learning how to prioritise.
What You Will Need for This Time Management Exercise
As a trainer, you will need to bring to the session a flip-chart and some coloured marker pens.
Prioritization Exercise Instructions
- Separate participants into groups of 4 to 5 people.
- Give each group a sheet of A1 paper from a flipchart pad and some coloured marker pens.
- Give them 10 minutes to make a list of tasks that are likely to come up as part of their job or at home (you may want to focus on different areas of life depending on who you are training, or let the participants choose).
- Ask them to prioritise these tasks based on the importance of each task.
- At the end of the 10 minutes, ask the groups to feedback to the rest of the class and ask them: ‘Which tasks did you consider the most important and why?’
The discussion that will follow will revolve around what important tasks are and how we know that they are important.
5. Arrange the Cards
This time management training game is very useful for participants to understand the importance of planning and delegating, in order to achieve a task in the shortest amount of time.
Items You Will Need for This Training Game
As a trainer, for this time management activity, you will need as many decks of playing cards as there are groups and a stopwatch or another timekeeping device.
Arrange the Cards – Instructions
- Divide the class into groups of 3 to 5 people.
- Give each group a deck of playing cards (which you had previously shuffled, so they are not in order).
- Explain that each team has to lay out the cards in the specific order that you will have previously shown. (You can use a PowerPoint slide for this, with a photo of the cards, or you can have a deck of cards already set up on a table).
- Explain that cards must be placed in neat rows without touching each other.
- Tell participants that the team that completes the task in the shortest amount of time wins.
- Give teams 5 minutes to strategize and carry out any practice runs. Explain that teams can use any resources in the room to help them, as needed.
- After the first 5 minutes, start the first proper round.
- There will be three rounds. The idea is that each team should improve with each round. The winning team is the one that accomplishes the task in the shortest amount of time.
At the end of the game, start a discussion by asking participants: ‘What strategy did you use to complete the task?’
Strategising, planning and delegating should come out, from the discussion, as key elements to manage time successfully.
We provide a full day Time Management Training Courseware Package, which includes guidance for trainers, a lesson plan, activities, professionally designed PowerPoint slides and more.
6. How to Overcome Time-wasters
Time-wasters are all the things that stop people to get things done (or at least slow them down). So, it is important for you, as a trainer, to cover this topic into your time management training session.
This activity, not only introduces the idea of time-wasters, but it also gives your participants the opportunity to start thinking about how to overcome them.
What You Will Need
You will need as many envelopes as there are teams and, inside of each envelope, you will insert as many blank index cards as there are teams
Time-wasters Exercise Instructions
- Write a time-waster on the back of each envelope (a different time-waster on each envelope). Use common time-wasters, which can be things such as meetings, social media, unexpected visitors, etc.
- Divide the participants into groups of 3 to 5 people.
- Give each group an envelope and give them 3 minutes to write down a list of ways to overcome the time-waster written on the envelope they were given on one of the index cards (each team has to use only one of the index cards in the envelope).
- After three minutes are up, ask the groups to pass their envelope to the group next to them, so that envelopes rotate and each group has a different envelope every time.
- Continue with up to as many rounds as there are groups or as many rounds as time allows.
- After the last round, start the discussion.
For the discussion, you can ask each group to read out loud the items on the index cards inside the last envelope that they ended up with. Alternatively, each group can present only the items they came up with for each time-waster. You could also ask the participants to vote on which strategies are best for dealing with each time-waster
7. What Did You Do Yesterday?
This is one of those short time management training activities, which gives participants the opportunity to reflect on how they use their time.
This task is better for participants to do individually at first and then discuss in pairs.
What You Will Need to Provide
This time management training task is very easy to organise. You will not need to provide anything, apart from pen and paper, unless the participants have already brought their own.
Time Management Task Instructions
- Ask participants to work individually for this task at first.
- Ask each participant to jot down, on a piece of paper, 5 things they accomplished yesterday. It does not matter how big or small. It can be anything from taking the dog for a walk to closing an important sale for their company.
- Ask each participant to write down one wasteful thing they did. Wasteful means unproductive, something that did not contribute towards achieving their goals, did not improve the quality of their life or that distracted them from more important tasks.
- Give participants 5 minutes to do write down the 5 accomplishments and the wasteful thing.
- Ask participants to discuss and compare their lists with the person sat next to them (or they can discuss in groups of three if there is an odd number of participants).
Discussing their accomplishments will make participants feel good by allowing them to focus on what they achieved with their time. Often, we beat ourselves up thinking that we have done nothing, when in fact we do more than we give ourselves credit for!
Focusing on one wasteful task though, will open the discussion towards understanding what a wasteful activity is and how to avoid time-wasters.
Additional Time Management Training Advice
If you are a trainer and need to deliver a session on time management, why not save yourself some time and purchase an off-the-shelf training package.
Dr Valeria (Lo Iacono) Symonds
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