Time management training games and exercises can be an effective way to practice the skills of productivity and efficacy.
All of your preparation and inspiring messages about the crucial issue of time management will come to naught if you cannot give your audience the tools to make it happen.
You can’t show up, say “you need time management to survive. Thank you all for coming. Good night.” Any decent time management seminar has to include the “how to” to get the desired results.
A broad approach must be taken to include different tactics to achieve the best results since not everyone learns the same way, and a cookie cutter approach will teach some but not others.
You need to manage your own time to be effective in teaching time management.
Tips and Tools
To effectively manage the amount of time available to complete the necessary tasks requires strategy, planning, and identifying the time wasters.
If you are part of a larger group or department, in order for proper time management tools to be effective, everyone must be on board.
Just one dissenter can single-handedly bring down the entire group. In order for everyone to be committed to the change, everyone must feel a part of the whole. Everyone is important; every role they play in the greater scheme of things is needed.
Many people are in a rut. Some companies do have a pervasive air of being resistant to change. It’s the “we have always done it this way” mentality.
This must be overcome to move forward. Have a brain-storming meeting. Ask everyone to identify areas in their habits and the habits of those around them that may be time wasters.
Question routines, policies, and habits. Identify the major tasks to be done in a certain time period and then ask questions like, why do we do this? What’s the result? How can we do this better?
With fresh eyes looking at your processes some weaknesses and time management problems will begin to emerge.
Instant communication can be a blessing and a curse. Your office phone, email, and smartphone will be calling to you all day, demanding your time and attention. To manage your time, set aside a specific time to deal with the necessary tasks.
Set aside a time to check and respond to emails, maybe twice a day, and let calls go to voicemail if you can, and listen to and respond at a set time also.
You may enjoy an occasional funny email joke, but these are a huge time waster because your mind is pulled away from your work and if you not only read, but also reply to these it will take quite a chunk out of your time when trying to get back to the job at hand.
Some people are very visual, others not so much, but if you can picture your time and see where it is going, you can make changes to avoid losing so much. If you have ever asked, “Where did the day go,” this game will show you where that time goes.
Done in a group setting, such as a seminar or departmental meeting, everyone will receive 3 sheets of paper divided into 24 squares representing 24 hours in a day.
After setting forth the rules of the game, each person will write on sheet one, each block signifying an hour, routine things you do in a day, for example if you sleep 8 hours, write “sleep” in 8 blocks.
Other activities on this page would be commuting, eating dinner, watching TV and bathing.
The next page will be for time burners, things done in a day that are not productive in relation to your job duties. This will be enlightening.
These will be things like personal calls, lingering at the water cooler talking about anything but work, reading and forwarding nonwork-related emails, or staring off into space. Allot a time block for these. You can, if necessary, break these blocks into 4-25 minute sections or accuracy.
The last step will be to combine pages one and two on page three. Once the individual sheets have been brought together, the empty blocks will represent the amount of time spent on work related tasks.
Once you see what is eating up your time then take pages one and two and begin to see where you can scale back on non-essential tasks to free up some time. This goes beyond the training and into practice.
The next time you are engaging in a time waster, you will be more aware of your actions.
A Jarring Experience
The concept in this exercise has been used to tell a story about many different things, and it lends itself well to visually explain the necessary prioritizing of everyday tasks.
Each team has a jar and some objects to put in this jar – large rocks, sand, gravel, and water.
The instructions are to fill the jar with everything in front of you and still be able to close the lid.
The key to obtaining the objective is to place each item carefully with regard to size so that all fit.
The large rocks go first, next comes the gravel, which will fill in gaps, next will be sand, which fills in more gaps, and lastly the water which will distribute itself in any space left.
This illustrates that the weightier task should come first, and so on until the jar is full.
The jar is the work day, and the objects are the tasks to be done.
Seeing the Big Picture
This exercise is designed to illustrate the purpose of seeing the “big picture,” aka the company’s main objectives.
Each team receives a puzzle and is asked to assemble it without the advantage of seeing the picture they are putting together.
Teams are urged to, as quickly as possible, assemble their puzzle. After a few minutes, ask yourself what would make it easier to assemble the puzzle?
Obviously having the picture to refer to makes the assembly much quicker.
This makes two points, one that it is easier to do your work if you keep your eyes on the objective or goal, and two, upper management can help employees to succeed in the group effort if they have the picture of what they are all working for. It’s an eye on the prize mentality.
This involves two people and two decks of cards.
One deck is scrambled, nothing is in order, and some are even turned face-down in the pack. The other deck is in order with all the suits together and in numerical order.
Both people are asked to pull a certain card out of the deck.
Doesn’t matter which card it is.
Naturally the person with the “good” cards will quickly find the right card, and the other person is likely to complain of unfair odds.
It is a good illustration of how important organization is in time management. It takes much less effort to keep things in an orderly fashion than to hunt through a “mixed up” deck each time you need something.
The Lack of Initiative Game
Oftentimes management will come down hard on everyone to beat them into submission, but that doesn’t really help that much and it causes a rebellion instead of a solution.
In this game, each employee lists on a sheet of paper the number of wasteful activities during the work day.
Because the employees make the list it fosters a sense of teamwork and not one of reprimand. Once the lists are completed have each employee jot down some solutions and then participate in sharing their lists and all can work together to trim down the time wasters.
People who want to lose weight often keep a food journal in order to accurately track what they eat. The goal is not to put anything in their mouths that they do not write down. The premise is that until they see that list, they have no idea how much and what they eating.
The premise is the same in a work environment.
Until you track how much time you spend on the phone or checking emails you have no idea how much time it steals from your productive work time.
You Want it When?
This is a crucial time management tool.
When someone gives you a task to do but not a deadline, always ask, when do you need this?
You may have 10 projects on your desk and be super stressed out. When, in fact, there may be some you can put aside at least for a day or so.
If no timeline is given, offer a date.
You might say something like: I am working on XYZ that is due on this date. Can you wait for a couple of days? Most of the time the person requesting your time will agree.
Time management is crucial to anyone’s job. If you cannot manage your time it will manage you and you won’t be very happy.
There are many materials to help you. There are seminars, books, training classes, and online templates.
Help is available and the best thing you can do is take advantage.