Doesn’t it always seem like there is not enough time during the day?
Between endless emails, meetings, shoulder-taps, before you know it, it’s the end of the day, and you haven’t even crossed off half the important tasks on your to-do list.
As a leader, you know, perhaps better than anyone, that time management in the workplace has never been more challenging. There are so many distractions that employees spend around two hours of their workdays recovering from these distractions!
In the US alone, 70% of workers reported feeling regularly distracted, with 16% highlighting that they felt unfocused.
The main culprits?
Excessive emails, pointless meetings, and interruptions.
A distracted team with poor time management means two things for business – unproductivity and money loss.
So, what can you do to help your team find their way?
Time management activities are the answer!
But, before we get into how to teach time management to employees, you first need to understand the big picture: why you need to.
Why Is It Important to Teach Employees about Time Management?
As highlighted above, workers are increasingly distracted and unfocused.
This isn’t good news for companies because a distracted worker will struggle to meet deadlines. When this happens, they’ll become unmotivated and unproductive.
On the other hand, when your staff has better time management skills, they’ll be able to meet (and sometimes even surpass) their goals. This will positively reflect on both your financial results and employee satisfaction.
Sometimes managers ask themselves: How do I teach time management to adults?
It’s much easier than you may think. Time management strategies can always be learned. The right approach to cultivating more productive time usage will not only improve your business, it will also improve employee satisfaction as they get the most out of each workday.
So then, what is the right approach?
Time Management Activities for Employees
Let’s be clear on one thing – having employees that struggle with time management isn’t a new problem. From our personal to professional lives, it is challenging to juggle everything that comes with this thing called life.
So, if it’s a common issue, will another routine lecture be an effective time management exercise?
Well, that’s highly unlikely.
If you’re trying to connect with the 21st-century employee, you need to approach them with new-age tactics.
And gamification is the perfect answer to instill employees with effective time management tips, all without them even noticing how you’re improving their work-life balance and decision making.
What is Gamification?
In a nutshell, gamification is the process of applying game elements into a regular activity. If you’re a leader trying to encourage your team to participate more in meetings, you could add game elements such as rewards, a points system, and even challenges, to increase engagement and make the process more exciting.
If this sounds like fun – that’s the whole point!
This approach is a growing trend in employee engagement as it helps to make routine activities much more appealing. Some of the best time management activities are just fun remixes on daily tasks that manage to teach employees the importance of time optimization.
If you’re wondering how time management games will help with skills development in the workplace, you’ll be pleased to learn that there are already some case studies that prove how gamification can help improve employee productivity.
Benefits of Group Time Management Activities and Games (Gamification)
Time management group activities work because:
- They lead to a happier and more engaged workplace.
- They help to improve problem-solving skills.
- They are fun and help to relieve stress.
- They help to increase learning retention.
Not to mention the fun factor – would you rather go to a meeting to learn time management techniques, or go to a meeting to play games with your co-workers? Luckily, now employees can do both.
We’ve compiled a list of effective activities that will help your employees learn project management, encourage team-building, and cut down on procrastination in your workforce!
Ice-Breaking Time Management Activities
In this day and age, it is common for our workspaces and teams to be continually changing.
Help your employees keep up with these changes by using ice-breaking time management activities. They’re often quick and easy to play.
Game 1: How Long Is a Minute?
This activity is an excellent time perception exercise.
- Ask your participants to close their eyes and then open them when they think that a minute has passed.
- To further test your group, you can ask all participants to put their watches away and hide or remove any clocks in the room.
Naturally, people will be opening their eyes at different times.
- What is their understanding of time?
Not only is this activity a fun opener, but it also helps to show how we often perceive time differently. For instance, you might think that the little coffee breaks you take during the day amount to about 15 minutes, while they may add up to an hour or even more. This game is a shock to the system for habitual time wasters.
Game 2: Find Something In Common
As the name suggests, this game is all about helping your team members find out about the things that they have in common with each other.
Each person will need a pen and paper for this exercise.
- You can allocate a time limit of about five to ten minutes for this task.
- Each participant will try to find things that they have in common with their colleagues by speaking to as many people as possible within the allocated time.
- They’ll then need to write down the people they have things in common with.
- The person who has the longest list wins the game.
- What questions did you ask different people?
- Do you feel you could have asked better questions?
- How did you answer the questions you were asked?
This game will help your participants understand the importance of effective communication. Without asking the right questions and divulging the right answers, it will be a challenge for them to find these common touchpoints.
This is also an effective ice breaker exercise to help your team connect in a short timeframe.
We spend a lot of time in the office with people from all walks of life. And, although the primary focus should be to do our jobs well, we’re also human beings. We have families, friends, dreams, hopes, hobbies, etc. Once your team members get to learn some of the things that make their colleagues who they are, they can start building valuable connections.
Life Lessons Activities
One of the most beautiful things about life is the lessons we learn along the way. No matter how big or small, these lessons help us to grow in our personal and professional lives.
Game 3: Mayo Jar
For this game, you’ll need an empty mayo jar, large rocks, pebbles, sand, and water.
One by one, put each of these items into the jar, starting with the large rocks, then the pebbles, sand, and then finally, the water. By now, the jar will be full.
- What would have happened if you had started with the water?
- What would have happened if you had started with the sand?
If you’d put the water in first, or the sand, it would be impossible to fit in all the other items. This exercise will help your team understand the importance of prioritization and how, if they start with the large tasks, the smaller stuff that needs to get done will often “fall into place.”
Game 4: What Did You Do Yesterday?
To get your team to improve their time management skills, you need to help them understand what they currently waste their time on.
For this activity, each person will need two pages and a pen to write with.
- On the first piece of paper, each participant should write down ten things that they did while at work on the previous day. Let them know that the specific order of these activities doesn’t matter.
- On the second piece of paper, ask the participants to write down five topics that they’ll need to discuss at the next office meeting.
- What activities from the first list relate to the second list?
- Can you think of five activities you didn’t do yesterday, that will help you perform well at your next office meeting?
This little exercise is about helping your team understand the relation between our performances and the activities we spend time on. It will also help them gain a clearer perspective on what they waste time on.
The occasional office chatter is an essential part of a healthy working environment. It should be encouraged. However, if employees spend hours each day doing that, while there are multiple emails and other work tasks to get to, this isn’t very productive and will likely result in poor performance.
Better Team Collaboration Activities
“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
There are many advantages to teamwork. It helps colleagues to learn from each other, and it promotes strong work relationships, among other things. Besides these significant advantages, team collaboration also helps to improve productivity.
The following two games are a great illustration of this.
Game 5: Delegation Skill Practice
One of the most effective ways to foster a healthy team collaboration culture in the office is to encourage delegation. When your managers delegate tasks, they interact more, share expertise, and can avoid silo mentality in the workplace.
For this game, divide your participants into groups of three. Each group will also need an observer sheet, which we’ll discuss shortly.
- Split your employees into groups of three: one delegator, one employee, and one observer.
- The delegator should head their team, delegating off their list of tasks to the employee.
- The observer should pay close attention to how effectively the delegator chats with the employee. Are they an effective communicator?
- These observations should all be noted in a sheet, which has essential questions, such as:
- Did the delegator explain the importance of the task?
- Did the delegator present the expected results in a SMART goal?
- Did the delegator set a deadline and checkpoints?
- Was the employee encouraged to perform the task?
- After the employee completed the task, did the delegator review the job, and give constructive feedback?
- The teams will then rotate, with each person getting the chance to delegate, be an employee, and also be an observer.
- Who was the best delegator in the team? Why?
- Who was the best employee in the team? Why?
- Which areas did each delegator need to improve on?
- Which tasks were pleasant and which were more challenging?
Delegation is an essential skill for managers and employees who plan on becoming managers one day. Once your managers improve this skill, they’ll be able to allocate time more effectively and, as a result, get more done at the office.
Game 6: Paper Boat Factory
Speaking of effective delegation, another fun and exciting game is Paper Boat Factory. All you need for this are old newspapers.
- Divide your teams into groups of four to five, and then have them select a team leader.
- After showing them how to build a paper boat, give them four pieces of newspapers and instruct them to make 40 paper boats of their own.
- The trick here is that all the boats must have the same size and shape.
- You can allocate 15 to 20 minutes to complete the task.
- Did the team leader effectively delegate roles for the activity?
- Was everyone aware of what their responsibility was?
- Was there any confusion about focus – completing the task or getting perfect boats?
- Did any of the team members feel overwhelmed at any point during the task? Why?
In essence, making paper boats can be related to everyday tasks around the office. In addition to improving their delegation skills, this is an effective exercise to help team members learn how to manage a team and also get work done on time.
Putting Things Into Perspective
The amount of time we have each day is the same – 24 hours. However, some people use those 24 hours constructively, while others become easily distracted and unproductive.
The best way to help your workers become more constructive with their time is to help them put things into perspective.
Game 7: How Would You Spend $86,400?
The resources needed for this game are simple: a piece of paper, a pen, and, most importantly, your imagination.
Ask your participants to write down what they would do if they received $86,400 each day. What would they spend the money on?
This can be an individual or a group activity.
- They can’t save the money for a later time.
- They have to spend all the money on that one day.
- If they don’t spend the money, they lose it.
Once they’ve discussed what they’d spend their money on, relate this amount of money to the actual time we get each day.
We have 86,400 seconds each day. And just like with the money exercise, the time we have today can’t be saved for a later time.
This exercise will help the team gain a better understanding of how precious time is and how important it is that they spend it wisely and not let it go to waste.
Game 8: Time Squared
For this game, all you need are three pages with twenty-four squares drawn on each. These are literal hourly blocks representing the twenty-four hours we have each day.
- Each participant will write down the amount of time they spend on routine activities on the first page. These include taking a shower, sleeping, eating, etc.
- For the second page, the participants will then need to fill in the activities they perform that waste time. These activities are non-productive, such as making personal phone calls, social media, etc.
- Then they should fill out the third page using all the data from the first and second page. The remaining time represents the time they have to be productive.
- How much time do you have available for productivity?
- What tasks do you think you’re wasting the most time on?
- How do you think you can allocate more time on being productive at work?
Game 9: Dealing With Distractions
The goal of this activity is to identify the little distractions that quickly turn into time eaters. For this activity, the participants will need post-it papers and a pen.
Separate participants in smaller groups.
Each participant writes down three things on a post-it paper that distract them from their work.
They hand out their lists to other participants and pass them on until they don’t know where their list is.
Within their group, the participants discuss how they would deal with the distractions listed and then share their ideas with the whole group.
- Can you identify some familiar sources of distraction within your team?
- Have your participants listed work-related distractions, such as answering emails, phone calls, or excessive meetings? How can they work together to reduce them?
- How do other team members deal with distractions that you commonly encounter?
This activity can help your team become more mindful of the little things that they waste time on. By passing the lists around, you ensure anonymity and encourage an exchange of peer-led strategies within your team.
Time Management Activities For Planning and Prioritizing
At its core, time management is about proper planning and prioritization. Therefore, it’s essential for each worker, no matter what their job description is, to be skilled in this department.
Game 10: Picking Up Blocks
For this game, place different colored blocks on the table. The number of blocks will depend on how many people are participating in each round.
- Each participant gets a certain amount of time to pick up blocks with their non-dominant hand. They get points for every block they get.
- To make things more interesting, for the next round, they’ll continue picking up with their non-dominant hands. However, now the blocks will be allocated with different points.
- At the end of the rounds, tally up the points and pronounce a winner!
- How do you think you could have earned more points?
- Did you feel overwhelmed at any point? Why?
This game will force your participants to understand the importance of prioritization when faced with multiple tasks at work.
Game 11: Circadian Rhythm
Are you a morning person or a night owl? Do you feel more active after breakfast, or do your energy levels often rise in the afternoon?
We all have different body clocks, and understanding our body clocks is often key to optimum productivity.
For this game, each participant will need a piece of paper and a pen. The paper will have 24 blocks for each hour of the day.
- Jot down your daily routine per hour. For instance, wake up at 7 o’clock, breakfast at 8 o’clock, get to the office at 9, etc.
- Jot down in each block how you feel. To help guide them, these are the adjectives they can allocate to each time block:
- On fire
- At 60%
- Cruise control
- Slowing down
- At what time are you the most active or “on fire?”
- At what time do you feel tired?
- When is the best time to allocate your most challenging work tasks?
- Who has similar body clocks in the team?
This exercise will help your team learn how to build efficient schedules around their circadian rhythms. Besides helping with productivity, this activity will help your team also gain a better understanding of each other.
Help Your Employees Manage Their Time Better
Although time management can be challenging, helping your team learn this important skill will improve their productivity and efficiency.
And as you’ve seen from the above games for time management, this process doesn’t need to be routine-like or uninspiring.
Fun time management activities for employees can help to drive home vital skills such as team collaboration, planning, and prioritization.
So, get out there and follow these exciting time management activities to help your team manage their times better.