There are many benefits to working through a time management group activity with your team members. These games and challenges build camaraderie, improve teamwork within your staff members, and highlight important lessons about prioritizing tasks and getting work done.
Check out a few of these time management activities to try within your organization and the lessons that come with each of them.
1. The Mayo Jar
This time management group activity is meant to show teams how they tackle a problem and prioritize tasks in their day-to-day lives. Each group is given a clear, empty jar with the challenge of stuffing as much as they can into it – you can judge this based on weight or the number of items. Provide each group with a variety of materials to use. Some companies use office supplies for this challenge (paper clips, pens, post its, etc.) while others use materials like rocks and sand.
The materials each symbolize different work priorities. Bigger items represent major projects and small items represent small tasks and extra work that needs to get done. The goal is to start a discussion about how you fill your day (the empty mayo jar) and if you are making the most of your time.
2. Blind Polygon
In this activity, each participant will have a blindfold (or will need to be trusted to close their eyes). You will challenge each team to create a shape with a rope that you hand out, like a square, letter Z, etc. Every person needs to keep their hands on the rope at all times and no one can open their eyes until the polygon is created. To make it harder, each person must keep their dominant hand on the rope.
During this activity, you will get to see how teams handle important tasks. Who has high energy levels and jumps into a leadership role? What problem-solving strategies do they use? How are teams at managing their time? These questions make great discussion points for after the activity.
3. Puzzle Challenge
Give each group a puzzle and tell them to complete it without a picture of what it should look like. After a minute has passed, ask what is missing. Most groups will mention that they need a guide or “big picture” to know what they are assembling. Discuss how a big-picture helps with small daily tasks and also with larger goals – like those related to a performance review.
4. Ace of Spades
If you're looking for a quick game for your team or an ice breaker to start a time management lesson, consider the Ace of Spades activity. Give a deck of cards to two employees, or divide your group into two teams that can play against each other. The challenge is easy: go through the deck and find the ace of spades. However, one deck is shuffled into a random order and the other is in a clear order by number or suit.
The shuffled groups will typically take longer and will complain that the game isn't fair. In this activity, the lesson proves how a well-organized team can save time and get work done faster.
This game is simple and can be played on an individual level or in pairs or groups. The idea is that teams have $86,400 to spend however they want. They cannot save any money and any unspent money will be taken away. Participants need to decide how to spend the money in their personal lives, whether they are giving it to family, paying for a house, taking vacations, or donating to charity. Ask each person what they spent their money on and what were the biggest costs they found.
After this activity is complete, explain that there are 86,400 seconds in a day and each dollar represents a second. This activity shows people what they value and encourages participants to make each second of the day count.
6. Ribbon of Life
This Ribbon of Life activity is similar to the $86,400 team activity. Start with a ribbon that is 100 inches long. This represents 100 years of life. Then, cut about 25 inches off – or the number of inches for the average age of people in the room. This is the number of years that have passed. Then cut another 25 inches off. This represents that average lifespan of 75 years, as most people don't live to be 100. Keep cutting to account for weekends, vacation days, time off, hours asleep, etc. until your ribbon is actually much smaller.
The message is that you may think that you have decades left to accomplish your goals, but you really only have a few years when you think about it.
7. Time Squared
Time Squared follows a three-step process. You will hand out sheets with 24 squares on them, each representing 24 hours in a day. Then, you will ask participants to color the sheets in different ways to see how they spend time:
- The first sheet should be filled in with routine activities. These include hours spent during the circadian rhythms of sleeping, eating, bathing, commuting, etc.
- The second sheet should be filled with time wasters in the workplace. These include activities like coffee breaks, surfing social media, and chatting with coworkers.
- The third sheet should have the colored blocks from both the time wasters and the routine activities on there. Any remaining space is your productive time to work.
The goal of this activity is to show that you might not have as much productive time to work as you think. Participants should look for ways to cut out time-wasters so they can focus on increasing their productivity.
Try a Few of These Time Management Activities
These games are certainly fun to try, but you can't overlook the big picture: a company is only as successful as its employees. If your team members waste time because they get lost in the details or they aren't able to work together well, then your organization won't be profitable. These games offer a fun and engaging way to challenge your employees to view their work differently and improve their processes.