Do you want to be productive? Sure, most people would say yes. In that case, you've got to make sure you are making the most of your available resources. And time is one of our most important resources! Thus, we can say that managing our time is very important if we want to be productive.
To learn more about managing time, let's talk about a few activities that we can do. These activities show us key concepts that can help us make the most of our time. You may have done some team building activities and already be familiar with these. Even so, each has a lesson that helps us understand different facets of time management.
Observing the difference in our perception of time
The perception of time is a topic of study within psychology and neuroscience. The idea that our perception of time might be different than another person is not intuitive. In other words, we can each have a different notion of time that occurs between any two events. You might want to experiment to see how different these perceptions can be.
Gather some participants. Choose an amount of time such as one or two minutes. Each of you closes your eyes. When each participant thinks the time has elapsed, they should open their eyes. By noting when each person opens their eyes you'll have an idea of how each person perceives time.
Determining when we are most productive
Each person has times when they are likely to be more productive. This is because each person has their own rhythms. Working during those times would lead to higher productivity. But how can we determine when these times are?
Ask participants to consider a recent day in the past, or to observe an upcoming day and make notes. It is best if the day is on the weekend or a day free of too many obligations. That way they can get a real sense of their rhythm and not become distracted by those obligations. During that day the participants should make notes. They should log times they were feeling energized, when they felt like they needed a break, and so on.
Looking back on this knowledge will allow each individual to build a schedule. This schedule will allow them to work during their most productive times. Tracking hours spent on different activities can be easier if you use a tool to help out such as our timesheet app.
Increasing effectiveness through preparation: finding the ace
In this activity, you'll need two decks of regular playing cards. To set up the experiment, sort one deck by grouping each suit and then ordering by face value. For the other deck, shuffle it so that it is completely randomized. Do not tell the participants how each deck was prepared.
Now, give one deck to each of two participants and tell them that the first one to find the ace of spades wins the race. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the participant with the sorted deck will win. The lesson is that the participant with the sorted deck had the benefit of prior preparation. That allowed them to be more productive in the search and to win the race.
Spending time wisely
Ask participants to imagine that they were given $86,400 to spend in one day. They will have to give up any leftover money. Now ask them to make notes of what reasons they would spend the money. Now, the developers reading this might see where this is going. Yes, 86,400 is the number of seconds we have each day. So the moral of the story is that each day gives us a certain amount of time to spend. But we can't bank it, so we must make choices so that we can use our time to further our goals effectively.
Seeing the big picture
Sometimes we become too focused on immediate details. It's important to not allow this to waste time. By looking at the big picture, we can gain insights to help us make effective plans and use our time wisely. This activity will illustrate why it's important to see the big picture.
Supply each participant (or each small team of participants) with some piece of a larger puzzle. You can use your imagination to come up with the task, but sections of a small jigsaw puzzle might do. You mustn't let the participants see the finished picture. Then they can attempt to solve the puzzle as quickly as they can. At some point during this process, you can reveal to them the finished picture. They'll likely be able to solve the puzzle much faster after seeing the big picture.
Choosing priorities: filling the jar
With this activity, you'll need a large jar such as an empty mayo jar, some golf balls, some small pebbles, some sand, and some water. This activity might not be convenient in an office setting. But it could work as a thought experiment too. First, put the golf balls in the jar. Some may say at this point that the jar is full. Yet, you could still put in the pebbles and they would fill the voids between the golf balls. Follow up in the same manner with the sand. At this point the jar is full. But even now, you could put some water in with the rest of the contents.
The lesson is that you could only fit so much in the jar because of the order in which you put in the items. If you had put in the sand first, the golf balls and pebbles would not have any room. It was important to choose the right things upfront, just as it is in life. Avoid choosing to waste time by not prioritizing the right things.
Did you do some of these activities with your team? Each has a lesson for us that can help us understand time and how to use it wisely. And you should use it wisely! After all, time is one of the most precious resources that we can never replenish. If you'd like to know more, we've prepared our Time Management 101 resource for you.