With all the time in the world, every employee could get everything on his to-do list finished without any problems or stress. However, in the real world, workers only have a set amount of time to finish things, and it is only by mastering the skill of time management that they are able to get their most important tasks finished before the deadline. Time management training activities are a good way to help reinforce this important skill so your employees can make the most of the time they have at work.
Icebreaker Time Management Training Activities
Make a list of around 20 or more quick activities for your employees to do. These should all be simple things like running around the room, doing five jumping jacks, finding out five things about a co-worker, learning the names of everyone in the room, etc. Assign a point value to every activity based on its difficulty. Then, break your team into small groups of three to five people and tell them they have 10 minutes to earn as many points as possible.
After totaling the points at the end of the assignment, discuss how the teams each made decisions, designated responsibilities, prioritized activities and completed the tasks. Point out how many of the tasks could be completed together, which saved time and how some items took too long for too little points.
Estimating 30 Seconds
This is a simple but elegant time management simulation exercise. Tell your employees to all close their eyes. Instruct them to open their eyes after 30 seconds and try not to count in their heads but instead just estimate the time. Record how early the first employee opened her eyes and how long it took before the last employee opened his eyes. Count how many employees actually opened their eyes at the 30-second mark.
When your employees have all opened their eyes, tell them that they all opened their eyes at different times. Tell them that they opened their eyes anywhere from 10 seconds to 55 seconds after you told them to close them and that only one person opened his eyes at exactly 30 seconds (use whatever the actual numbers were for your group).
Then, explain how this illustrates that time is perceived differently by different people and can even be perceived differently when you are bored or busy. Explain that because it can be hard to accurately perceive time depending on your situation, it is important to keep an eye on the clock and learn to prioritize your most important tasks so they get done in time.
The Mayonnaise Jar
This activity is a great way to illustrate how employees can best utilize their time at work. Place a large jar on a table next to bowls filled with large rocks, gravel and sand. Then, ask your group what order they think the things should be placed in the jar to fit as much as possible inside. Once everyone has given his opinion, put the rocks, then the gravel and then the sand inside the jar.
Explain that when you prioritize the big things first, the little things will find a way to settle around them, but if you focus on the small things, you may not have room to handle the big things in your life at all.
Value Your Time
This is one of the many great activities for time management in the workplace that asks employees to recognize the value of their time. Start by having your employees write down everything they remember doing the day before and then tell them to place a value on the things they did based on how important it was. Then, explain that it is important for employees to focus on activities that provide the greatest value to themselves and the company.
The Paper Boat Factory
In this group activity for time management, you will break up your group into teams of five and select a leader for each team. Take the leaders into another room and show them how to build a paper boat. Ask each person to make her own to illustrate that she knows how to do it. Then, tell them you want their groups to make 40 identical boats in 15 minutes.
At the end of the time, compliment the groups that made enough boats using your design and then ask the leaders to explain how they delegated tasks in order to make the most of their time. Explain that miscommunication, arguments and distractions can thwart a team's effort to meet its goals.
Dealing With Distraction
Ask your employees to write down all the things that distracted them from what they needed to do over the last few days. Then, ask them to write down solutions to help overcome these distractions in the future. When everyone is done, have each person share his results.
If you like to make things competitive, you can break your group into teams and then provide them with index cards, each with a common distraction written on the back. Then, have the group work together to come up with a way to deal with the distractions.
At the end, list the time wasters and then have each team read the solutions for overcoming them, awarding a point to the team that has the best solution for each distraction. Once you go over all the distractions, give a prize to the team (or teams) with the highest score.
Spend Your $86,400
Tell your employees to imagine that they have $86,400 to spend, with a few restrictions: They have to spend it all in one day, can not pay off bills and anything they do not spend in one day will be taken away. Then, have your employees write down what they would do with that money.
At the end, explain that there are 86,400 seconds in a day. These seconds can not be saved, and they can not be used to fix things that happened in the past. Instead, you have to budget your time in order to make the most of it every day.
Illustrating Parkinson's Law
Divide your group into six teams and then give them five tasks to do. Tell two of the teams to finish as soon as they can, but give the other teams a time limit, giving two teams six minutes and two teams four minutes to complete each task. Emphasize that they can move to the next task as soon as they complete the first. Then, see how long each team takes.
Chances are that the teams with four-minute time limits will be finished first, followed by the teams with the six-minute time limit. Those who had open-ended time frames will take the longest. Explain that this is due to Parkinson's Law, which states that work will expand to fill the allotted amount of time. This means the teams with only four minutes available were able to do their work in this time because they had no other choice.
Tell your group that they can incorporate this into their own lives by limiting how much time they spend on certain tasks. For example, rather than spending half an hour reading emails every morning, they can try giving themselves five minutes to do it, and they will likely find that they are still able to read and reply to all the important messages.