Since it is sometimes difficult to manage your time, there are now dozens of time management activities for adults that can help you become more organized and productive. Most of these activities are very simple while some will have you wondering what the point is. However, they have all been developed by the experts so they are guaranteed to help you improve your time management skills.
Critical to the Workplace
When you’re at work, it is critical to manage your time well. Most people go to work each day and want their days to be as productive as possible, which will only happen if you’re great with time management. Below are some of the activities devised by HR professionals that can show your employees how important these skills are.
1. Are we there yet? Gather together and make sure that no one has a watch or cellphone. Start a timer and instruct everyone to stand up when he or she feels that one minute has passed. People usually stand up at many different times.
2. The rhythm of time. Have everybody write down what he or she did the day before and jot down the energy level that he or she felt for each task. It can teach people what time of day they are the most productive.
3. A jar filled with rocks. Have an empty jar and a variety of medium-sized and large rocks. Have everybody put in the rocks that correspond with how important he or she thinks that job is. Large rocks will symbolize tasks they consider more important. It helps them prioritize their job duties.
4. Two decks of cards. Take two decks of cards but shuffle only one of them. Give each deck to an employee and see who finds the ace of spades first. It is usually the person who is the most organized, which makes him or her better at managing his or her time.
5. Puzzle challenges. Give each person a simple jigsaw puzzle and let everyone work to put it together without showing anyone how the puzzle looks when complete. After a while, stop them and ask how they’re doing. Then show them the front of the box and watch them become faster at the task. This is because they are now looking at the “whole picture”.
6. Cutting ribbons. Get a 100-foot ribbon and cut away until it reaches around 80 feet, which symbolizes the average lifespan of 80 years. Then cut the ribbon to symbolize other life events, such as the number of years spent in the workforce until you retire. It shows people how important expert time management is.
7. Leave it to others. Have people write down five topics that they’d like to discuss at their next performance review, then ten things that they did the day before. Ask them to link the two lists and see if they can. They usually try to justify the previous day’s activities with the links.
8. 24 squares a day. Give people sheets of paper with 24 squares on them to symbolize the hours of the day. Have them write down everything they did when not at work. Give them another sheet and have them write down what they did at work. When you compare the two, the blanks left over often represent their productive time.
9. A game full of blocks. Spread some brightly colored blocks on the table and have someone pick up one block at a time with his or her non-dominant hand and time the activity. Then, assign points to each block and have him or her play again. The blocks with the most points are the ones the employee should consider a priority.
10. Boat-making. Divide people into two teams and assign a leader to each. Show the leaders how to make a paper boat, then have them instruct their teams to make 40 boats in 15 minutes. This is one of the many time management activities for adults that can bring out potential leaders.
These exercises not only show everyone better time management skills but they also help people learn teamwork and highlight who your next leader might be.
Not Just for Employees
Although time management exercises are very popular for HR departments that want to challenge their employees, these activities are designed for all adults. Each activity teaches something valuable about managing your time and everyone walks away with something very important. Here are a few more activities that you may want to consider:
11. 86,400. Tell the group that they each have $86,400 to spend. They cannot save the money and anything not spent after a day will be lost. Have them each devise a plan to spend the money. Then tell them that they each have 86,400 seconds in any given day so it’s up to them to learn how to spend them.
12. Tracking time. For 24 hours, have everybody track his or her activities and write down everything that he or she did and how long each task took. Seeing things in writing can surprise many people, especially when it shows them how much time they waste in a given day.
13. Time limits. Goals should always be in writing but it’s also good for people to set a time limit on getting certain tasks completed. Have them draw lines under the most important tasks and tell them that they cannot move onto the next task until they complete the first one.
14. Pickles, anyone? Take a large pickle jar, empty it, and wash it out. In front of participants, fill it up with golf balls. Ask if it’s possible to fit anything else in the jar; most will say, “no”. Show them that they’re wrong by dropping small marbles in there next, then sand. The golf balls represent their most important tasks but the marbles and sand represent other projects, proving how important it is to plan for all of your activities, not just the more important ones.
15. Remember the 80/20 rule. Roughly 80% of your results are due to 20% of your efforts. Tell participants that they have to prioritize and plan so they can determine which activities and tasks are the most important and will produce the most results.
It’s a Matter of Habit
Learning time management skills is largely a matter of habit and consistent practice. Many of the time management activities for adults involve some type of role-playing or exercise that imitates ways to manage your time better. Fortunately, most of these activities also offer very practical tips, including the following.
16. Bad habits made better. Teams of two each take a sheet of paper and write down the things that are stopping them from getting things done. Together, they try to brainstorm and come up with ideas to help them both manage their time better.
17. Change your physical space. If you’re a student, you can designate a shelf in your room where you keep everything necessary for your classes, including your notebooks, pens, handouts from teachers, etc. Then, make up a calendar for each week and pin it up somewhere near the shelf. Look at that calendar daily to make sure that the items you keep on the shelf are what you need.
18. Write it down. Writing everything down helps your time management skills. You can also follow what is known as a five-step plan: write down commitments and deadlines; break down big commitments into smaller steps; make tickler files for “now”, “soon”, and “later”; do the items on your “now” list first; and prioritize the remaining items.
19. Eliminate distractions. Think about the time that you spend on wasteful activities, such as being on social media and watching television. Keep a journal for several days describing everything you do to eliminate these distractions and time-wasters.
20. Plan your day. Keep a day planner or digital planner to write down everything you intend to do for the day. Make sure that you allow yourself enough time for each activity. Most importantly, look at the planner often to make sure that you don’t miss anything.
21. Multi-tasking is not good. Contrary to what many people believe, it is not good to multi-task. Concentrate on one, maybe two, tasks at a time and wait until you’re finished with these before you move onto another task.
22. Unpleasant activities first. If there’s something that you dislike but is a part of your day, do this thing first. That way, it’ll be out of the way quickly and you can move onto more important things.
23. Set time blocks for everything. Don’t check your emails throughout the day. Set aside time to do that at one point in the day. Similarly, set time blocks to do everything else that you need to do, whether it’s making a grocery list or writing a white paper. Concentrate on one thing at a time.
Make Sure That You Know How You Spend Your Time
You won’t know how you spend your time until you write everything down. If you do this and you write everything down for one whole week — including the amount of time that you spent on each task — you might be surprised by how much time you’re actually wasting. You can also perform the following exercises to improve your time management.
24. Some of the best time management activities for adults are also the simplest. Taking frequent breaks is important because studies have shown that most people can only work uninterrupted for about 90 minutes before they start to slow down. It doesn’t have to be a long break; just make sure that you take one.
25. Go non-digital. About once a week, you should disconnect from the digital world and spend an entire day away from your computer, your cell phone, and even your television set. You’ll be surprised what a difference it makes in your commitment to your schedule.
26. Periodic reevaluation. Every so often, you have to reevaluate your schedule. Write down everything that you do on a given day and make sure that everything on that list is still necessary. Often, you’ll find some out-of-date tasks that you no longer need to do.
27. Don’t rush through your day. Just because you’re super busy doesn’t mean that you’re being productive. You can stay busy and not rush through things because doing things too quickly simply increases the odds of a serious mistake.
28. Make the most of high-energy times. If you’re a morning person, do the most challenging and difficult tasks first thing in the morning. Always save the harder tasks for the times when you have the most energy.
29. Procrastination kills time management. One of the most important tips when you’re trying to better your time management skills is to get rid of all procrastination. Make up your mind to do something, then go after it. Procrastination is a motivation- and time-killer.
Be Realistic with Everything
When you’re learning these time management activities for adults, the first thing to remember is to be realistic. If you have a one-hour lunch meeting scheduled, block off two hours of time in your day planner because you have to consider your travel time. This way, you won’t get discouraged if it takes you the entire extra hour to get to the restaurant and back.
Time management skills, for the most part, are common-sense tasks. If you can’t manage your time, it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person. It just means that you haven’t been taught the skills you need to improve your time management. Time management is merely planning and organizing how you’re going to get various tasks completed.
The benefits of better time management are great and they include:
- Less stress
- Better efficiency
- More productivity
- Better opportunities to achieve important goals
- Fewer missed deadlines
- Better overall work quality
- Less procrastination
You’ll also be surprised by how much free time you have because you’re getting things done a lot more quickly, not to mention more efficiently. Better time management means that you’ll be using your time more wisely, leaving you with a more productive day and time to do some of the things that you’ve been missing out on lately.
Time management activities and tips can help you whether you’re a student, a business executive, or even a stay-at-home mom. Time management, in other words, benefits everyone.