Have you noticed that time began to go faster than another 5 – 10 years ago? A lot of working friends ask me about time management lifehacks they can use in their daily routine to be more productive. I hear this question so often, that is why I made a decision to put it down in words.
Find the best juicer for greens to save time for juice making.
Here are the questions that I hear more often:
- I can’t finish my to-do list for the day
- I spend hours to check my emails every day
- I often waste a lot of time for pointless things
- I do a lot of things and spend much time but I don’t really feel I’m making progress
I also have many friends who are students now. They are also wanting some methods to organize their schedule so they can enjoy their life.
Here are their problems:
- I constantly end up cramming for exams.
- I can’t just sit and study, without any distractions for a long time
- I study only when a test is coming.
- If I’m working on a subject, I always distract by thoughts of what I have to do for my other classes
- If I try to make a schedule, I can’t stick to it or unexpected things happen.
I remember facing these problems too.
What Is Time Management?
Why do some of us always fail their tasks and never finishing anything, but at the same time, others have full control of their time and complete everything they need? Practicing good time management skills will help you to move from the first category to the second one, be more productive and get more things done.
Here’s the definition of Time Management:
Effective time using gives the person “choice” on spending and managing activities at their own time and expediency.
Time management activities teach how to be more productive and rule your time better. I collected the best ones here for you. We will talk about management activities you can use with your employees in order to help them to increase their productivity. If you want time management activities, the one of these below.
Almost all of them can be applied both to employees and students, but some are more effective on students while others work better with employees. You can do them by yourself but for better results do them in a group.
Remember that time management is a skill and like for any other skill, there are exercises to help you to be more productive.
Time Management Exercises for Students
Everyone expects something for college. While you may want to get great grades or just enjoy studying with your friends, the others may want for college gives fun, go to parties, and meet new like-minded individuals. Anyway, you will need planning and prioritizing to meet deadlines for projects and tests without depriving a social life.
Otherwise, you will have to study for multiple exams and get ready for many class projects, sometimes in the same week or the same day! The time management exercises for college students below are created to develop your skills, helping you prevent such occasions.
Work with Distractions
We live in the distraction age, with companies and advertisement competing to grab our attention.
Distractions may be deadly to your productivity. In this exercise, you pay attention to your distractions and think about solutions to deal with them. Track your time for a few days, recognize the distractions in your life and write them down.
Start by tracking the big chunks of distraction taking your time like spending time on social media, surfing websites, watching TV while trying to read a textbook. Then your task is to find strategies to overcome them.
- If your phone distracts you just log out of social media while learning or switch it to airplane mode
- Aimless web surfing – unplug your internet cable or wi-fi. If you need it for studying, write down everything you need before.
- Playing video games – study at the library or at the university. If it’s a phone game, just uninstall it
If you do it as a group then discuss possible solutions.
Most students don’t realize the way their workplace influences their productivity. Optimizing it can increase your study time and keep you informed about deadlines and tasks. You just need a simple system that lets you be ready in seconds while being easy to maintain.
Here are some simple lifehacks:
- There must be a shelf with study materials, where you keep your books, files, pens, notebooks, etc. Use a box for each course.
- Hang a timetable for a week at the place where you can see it every day – near the mirror or on the door surface. Mark your exams, deadlines, class projects, and other social events there.
- Have everything you need on your phone or computer.
The 5-Step Plan
Students need to combine lots of activities, such as social life and deadlines. So this exercise will help you plan your schedule quickly.
- Write down all to-dos: list your deadlines and commitments
- Break It Down: turn big tasks into small steps. A 2000 word essay is much easier if writing 400 words every day
- Use a Kanban method: it will help prioritize tasks. Divide everything into three headings: now, soon, and later.
- Deadlines, sooner activities for a class, things in later you might want to quit must be a priority
- Do Immediately: start with tasks on your “now” list. This achievement will give you extra energy.
- Prioritize the Rest: go back to the other tasks and put them in order
Time Management Activities for Employees
There are many ways to do this time management activity.
Tell your people they have $86,400 to spend for anything they want but only on experiences, like learning the guitar, working on a project or going to the gym. But there is one rule that they can’t save money and if they don’t use them they lose it. Whet you talk about how they spent their money and why.
Tell them that 86400 are the seconds of our life we have each day.
They must understand that they should spend time on things that are important as they did with their money. Time is a resource, the same as money. But unlike money, time is a resource that cannot be replenished, and it becomes less and less.
Ribbon of Life
You will need a colorful 100 cms ribbon and scissors.
Ask your team the following questions:
- What is the life span an individual? The answer is gonna be about 75 years. Say that each cm of the ribbon means 1 year of their life and cut 25 cms and throw it away.
- What is the average age of the people who are present in the group? This depends on the group you’re doing this activity with. As a rule, the answer is gonna be about 25 years cut another 25 cms of the ribbon because the participants cant spend these years for some activity.
- How many years are left? They will say, 50, but the right answer is NO.
How much time we have:
- Every year has 52 weeks with 52 Sundays. Multiply that by 50 years, and it comes to 7.14 years. So cut the ribbon by another 7.14 cms.
- If Saturdays are also days off, cut another 7. cms.
- National holidays are 10 multiple with 50 years. It means 1.5 years more. Cut another 1.5 cms.
- The casual, sick leave and annual holidays are about 40 days a year, multiplied by 50 means another 5 cms.
- 8 hour of every day we spend for sleeping. Multiple with 365 days and 50 years (122 days X 50 = about 17 years). Reduce another 17 cms.
- Breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner also require time – about 2 hours every day (i.e. 30 days a year X 50 years = 4 years). Cut 4 cms more.
- We spend about an hour daily getting from one place to another. (2 more years).
In the end, we have only 6 years of life to do best or waste. The point of this activity is to show how much time we really have to accomplish things.
What I did Yesterday
Ask the audience to write ten things down that they did at work yesterday (order or comments don’t matter). Then ask them to write down five topics that they expect to talk about at their next performance review on the second piece of paper.
The next step is to look at these 2 lists and mark in some way on the 1-st list all the things which have a direct correlation to the 2-nd list. The thing is that we waste our time on things which have little consequence to our performance.
You can also ask them to plot the list of ten things on an Importance and urgency grid and concentrate on the “important and urgent/non-urgent activities. It clearly shows the relation between performance and activity.
In the end, ask them to write down ten things they must do the next week and relate them again to goals. Choose the top five tasks that are really urgent and have real influence on their performance and the company’s productivity.
The Mayo Jar
This activity shows the importance of doing the most important tasks first.
Give everyone a large bowl (the Mayo Jar). The main task is to fill it as much as possible. You can fill it with any kind of material – it may be rocks, small balls, stones, liquid, gravel or sand – anything you wish. Place the larger materials in the ball first, then they are followed by the next to the largest, and so on… This way fit the most into the bowl.
Every person should come to his own conclusion for the main activity that is based on his needs. The biggest material is the most important item to complete (home tasks or balance between work and life). These tasks should be done every day. The smaller materials are the projects that need to be completed.
And the smallest are extra tasks that were assigned to you. Let the people fill their own bowls without giving detailed instructions. just say that their main task is to fill their bowls with as much materials as they can. Then discuss the order selected, what each material means to them and so on.
If you fill the bowl with the smallest material in first, nothing else will fit except some water, but if you begin with the big stuff (the most important tasks) you will have more place for something else.
Check the video to see the way it works.
Delegation Skill Practice
The scenario of this time management practice is that you have an assistant and can give him some of your tasks to the assistant.
The group is divided into 3:
- an employee
- a delegator
- an observer
The delegator practices delegating, and the observer has a piece of paper to give feedback on how the delegator did and what they need to do to delegate well. Each person changes the role after each round.
Learn more at www.trainingcoursematerial.com
Arrange the Cards
Divide the group into teams and give each of them a deck of cards. They must arrange it in a set order as fast as possible. Give five minutes for this competition to create a strategy and practice. Do 3 rounds.
This time management activity teaches how planning, delegating and having a good strategy are important for getting a better result.
Time Management Icebreaker
In this time management activity, you have a list of tasks each worth a certain number of points. Divide the group into teams of 5 to 8. Give every team a list of tasks and tell them they have only 10 minutes to get as many points as possible. 10 minutes later, count up their points, announce the winner and talk about points.
Possible topics are:
- How did groups decide what tasks they do? Many of us count the time the task will take and its difficulty, and compare it with the value (number of points in this case). Managing our time we do the same: choose the high-yield tasks which don’t require much effort and that’s right.
- How task dependencies influenced the decision? For example, for the name card task, groups received bonus points if team nicknames were used. These 2 tasks together would give the points tripled. We often face this situation in life – if we batch tasks the results increase.
- How group dynamics affected the result? If participants knew each other well before, they may feel more comfortable doing risky activities, like singing songs or finding out some private information. We fell better staying within our comfort zone, especially if we are working in a team.
- Do a lap around the room – 5 points
- Create some staff for the instructor to wear, something like a tie or a hat – 10 points; bonus 5 points if the instructor actually wears it
- Find out some private and unique information about each individual in the group – 5 points
- Sing a song together – 15 points
- Make a paper airplane and throw it – 10 points
- Give every participant to sign a piece of paper – 5 points
- Count the number of pets owned by the team members – 20 points
- Assign a nickname to every participant of the group – 5 points
- Make name cards for every participant in your group – 5 points; bonus 5 points if you use your team nicknames
- Make a tower out of the materials owned by your team – 10 points
- Make a member of another team join youк group – 20 points
- Name your team and give it a slogan – 5 points for the slogan, 5 points for the name
- Create the Amazon rainforest sounds with your team voices – 10 points
- Make a list of what your group wants out of the workshop – 15 points
- Form a conga line and conga from one end of the room to another – 5 points; bonus 10 points if anyone joins you
You can create your own list with your own tasks but just make sure there is a right point value given to each item.
This is a simple time management activity that teaches how to deal with time wasters. Divide the group into 4 teams and give each an envelope including 4 index cards, and a time waster is listed on the back of it. Each team gets 3 minutes to write as many methods to deal with that time waster and write it on 1 card.
Then they pass the envelope to the next team, etc. Then every team can show their results, all of them vote for the best ones.
Вivide the participants into groups of nine -fifteen players. Blindfold each of them and ask to stand in a circle. Plut a rope in the center of the circle. The task is to form the rope into some shape – it may be a letter Z, a square, a pentagon or anything you wish.
Each participant must have contact with the rope and don’t lose it. They must not make knots or tangles. After the team thinks they have made the shape demanded they set the rope on the ground and take the blindfolds off.
During this game, you may see all kinds of personality, communication, and leadership styles. Talk about team time management and use the experience as a metaphor for personal time management. Ask what was the best way to deal with the task.
Talk about the process they would use if they were to do the task one more time.
Give each group puzzles with the same difficulty level but don’t show them the result they must get when completed – the “Big Picture”. Say that they must do it as quickly as possible. Stop them after 3 minutes and ask What was missing and why the task was so difficult.
Probably they will say about the absence of the full picture. Then, give them the big picture, ask to complete the puzzle again. They will deal with the task much faster. Explain that having the clarity of the whole picture helps to plan activities much more effectively.
It is very important to see the big picture if you plan and choose your activity. If there is no big picture, then you waste your time on useless things.
How Long is a Minute?
Ask the participants to close their eyes for a half of a minute and open them without watching the clocks and measuring the time. They should trust only their feeling of time and of course, they all will open their eyes at different times.
Discuss their personal understanding of time. Even though we have has an equal objective time no matter if it is 30 seconds for the exercise or 24 hours a day, in fact, we use and feel it in different ways. As a rule, this game always works as a good opener.
One more variant of this exercise is to hide all the clocks in the room, then ask participants not to look at their personal watches on the wrists or just take them off. Ask them to stand up and sit down after they feel 1 minute has passed after you.
The result is often surprising. To make it more interesting ask them to do it one more time but change the time to 2 minutes. The point is to show, that even though we have the same amount of time, we can feel and experience time differently.
You will need three pages with twenty-four squares representing twenty-four hours of a day.
- Give the first page and ask to fill the squares based on the time they spend on routine activities such as sleeping (for example, 8 hours mean 8 squares), taking shower or bath, travel, eating, watching TV and so on.
- Give the second page after you’ve talked about things on what the participants waste their time. Tell them to fill the squares based on the time they waste on time at their workplace that is not productive such as cofee-breaks, personal telephone calls, water cooler chats, and emails etc.
- At the end of the day, give the third page and ask the participants to collate the data from the first and the second paces on the third page. The empty squares mean their time of productivity. Using it ask to find activities from which they can refuse to increase their productive time.
This way you will help the participants to find their own time spent on routine activities and time wasters and eliminate them.
Ace of Spades
Give 2 decks of playing cards to 2 volunteers – one deck to each one. Ask them to find the Ace of Spades as fast as possible. The one thing they don’t know is that one deck is in order Ace – King, in the correct suits, and all facing the same direction and the other one is mixed up and some cards are facing forwards and some backward.
This makes it much harder to find the Ace of Spades. As a rule, the volunteer with the mixed deck doesn’t win and says that it was not fair. This is a fun activity and a good way to show that good organization saves time and affects time management and productivity.
The Money Value of Time
If you don’t have much time, create a mindset named the “money value of time.” The participants should break their activities down into profit centers and cost, and focus on investing their time in those activities that yield the highest value for each of them and for the firm. This method works great for a business audience.
The only thing you need is some newspaper. Each team must include not more than 5 members with 1 leader chosen. Take all leaders out of the room and teach them to make a boat of paper. Each leader should make it for you to be sure they got you.
Instructions for leaders:
- You get four pieces of paper.
- Your task is to build forty boats of the same size and they must not sink.
- Quality (finishing, shape, appearance) is also important.
- The time limit is fifteen minutes.
Then let them do the task.
Questions you should ask after the task completed:
- Did the Leader explain the goal to participants clearly?
- Did the team members understand what criteria were important?
- Did he clarify the roles in the team?
- What was the main – speed or quality?
- Did the participants ask for clarifications goal or roles?
- What was the style of leadership of the team leader?
- Was the use of people, newspaper, and the time organized?
- What is the relation between boat making and work in the organization?
Breaking Bad Habits
In this activity, the participants work in pairs. Each member writes what keeps him from effective managing his time on a piece of paper. Then the pair work together to find the best solutions. You may bring it then before the group in turns.
In this activity, each participant has a piece of paper with hourly blocks. Ask everyone to plot their day from waking up in the morning to going to bad in hourly blocks and ask them to identify if they are:
- on fire
- cruise control
- at 60%
- slowing down
The point is to get them to think about their energy level, focus to think about a standard day off and link this to time management at work. When they are ‘on fire’ the important tasks should be done and when they are lethargic they should do the mundane filing and so on.
The participants may post their lists on a wall, to be eye-opening for their colleagues.
This exercise is very good for prioritizing. Put the blocks of different colors on the table. Each participant must pick up as many blocks as possible.
- The blocks must be picked up with a hand that is non-dominant
- They can pick up only 1 block at a time.
- They have 90 seconds.
When time is over, wrote down names and number of blocks collected. Congratulate the winner and spread out the blocks one more time. Before starting the 2-nd phase, give the values to the block colors (for example, red block – 2 points, green – 3 points, and so on). Do the competition again. The competitors must reflect the number of blocks and number of points. Debrief can focus them on the need to prioritize.
Hungry Chick Inn
In this task, available from the Trainers’ Library, give the groups the challenge to re-open an inn to get guests in 13 days, with an impressive number of tasks and money limited. Success needs organization, planning, time and project management, and teamwork of course. Give them an hour and a half, and don’t forget about the time for debriefing.
Time Management Tips
- Optimize your time. Don’t waste your time for cutting products or making dough with your hands, you can save many hours with the help of a blender food processor.
- Planning is the key to success. Write down all the affairs coming tomorrow every day. Starting doing things from the list in the morning can increase your productivity by 25%.
- Set goals that you want to achieve. They can be long term and short term. It is enough to set from 3 to 5 goals for one year.
- “Eat a Frog Immediately.” In other words: it’s better to do something unpleasant in the morning and not to postpone it. This task still has to be done, but prolonged stress and emotional tension will add unpleasant sensations.
- No chaos. Managing working time will be much easier if you do not have to search for the necessary information in piles of papers on the desktop or in unnecessary files on your computer. As a rule, it takes up to 25-30% of the working time!
- “20/80” principle. It sounds like this: 20 percent of the effort brings 80 percent of the results, and the remaining 80 percent of the effort brings only 20 percent of the results. Learn to find that 20% of the most important tasks that are worth the effort, and small problems that are so unproductive to waste time on them, leave in the background.
- The principle of the motivated “no.” The ability to say “no” is very helpful not to load yourself with new tasks from the manager, employees and customers. Otherwise, you can spend half a day working on unnecessary things.
As you can see, there are many activities you can use to teach different sides of productive time management. Use them as I’ve described above or change as it would be better for you or your employees. Being in charge of your time helps you prioritize better, deal with more things and feel real progress in work.
The best time management exercises for students are:
- Getting Organised
- Identifying Distractions
- The 5-Step Plan
The best time management exercises for employees are:
- What I Did Yesterday
- Ribbon of Life
What other time management teaching you or others to manage their time better activities do you know? Let me know in the comments below.