6 Time Management Activities for Adults: Improve Your Time-Saving Skills Through These Games

Written by Domantas Vanagas

November 2, 2021

As we grow older, scheduling all our activities within 24 hours of a day can be challenging. There’s a lot to do, and we often find ourselves lacking rest. We have a lot to do, from our household chores to our work tasks. We also have our social lives to take care of. There seem to be unending things to do and seemingly no time.

However, you might know some of your friends or workmates that can do a lot of things. You might ask yourself, how can they do so much at the same time as yours? The short answer: they have improved their time management skill.

As an adult, time management is an essential skill. Maximizing your time for work and getting enough rest is one of the most effective ways to avoid procrastination and stress.

6 Time Management Activities For Adults

man holding a clock

If you’re looking for a way to manage your time better, you can do one or more of the following activities to improve your time management skills.


1. Circadian Rhythm

We all know that our bodies follow the internal 24-hour cycle. If you check the time you wake up, get hungry, or feel sleepy, you’ll easily see a pattern emerge. Your body releases certain hormones that help with your bodily function throughout the day.

This is possible through circadian rhythm that is managed by a cluster of neurons in the hypothalamus.

If you want your team to work in harmony, it’s important to have everyone in the same circadian rhythm, it might be a huge commitment from your team, but it will make things much easier for them in the long run.


How To Synchronize Circadian Rhythm

You can use circadian rhythm to your advantage in a simple activity. For example, you’ll need different colors of highlighters and a sheet of paper:

1. List hours in 30 minutes intervals from 8 am to 10:30 pm. The hours can be changed, but you have to start from waking up to sleeping

2. Write down your daily routine. Waking up, breakfast, lunch, snack time, unproductive and active hours, sleeping time, everything

3. Then, highlight each block with your mood at a time interval. For example, blue can signify “tired,” and red can signify “productive.” Feel free to add more moods

4. For more accuracy, you can record your mood in real-time. For example, during work, try to note what mood you feel at a certain hour.

5. Take note of your productive and unproductive hours. Plan around those hours. When you feel active, schedule important tasks. When you feel a bit unproductive, assign those hours as break time.

6. Apply the new schedule and adjust to changes if necessary.

NOTE: If you are in a group, you can add additional steps. Compare your circadian rhythm with your teammates and find a way to sync up your hours. Make sure that everyone is doing the most important tasks during their most productive hours.


2. The Mayo Jar

As adults, you have almost full control over our full time. While this gives you freedom, sometimes, you forgot how to manage your tasks properly. Most of the time, you just do the tasks based on their deadline. However, that is not optimal.

After learning the circadian rhythm, you can still do many activities to manage your time better. One of the most popular ones is the mayo jar activity that helps you identify and manage your tasks better.


How To Use Mayo Jar Activity

It’s easy to apply the mayo jar activity to improve your time management skills. First, you’ll need a few objects readily available in your household. Alternatively, you can easily buy a full set online.

1. Get an empty mayo jar, a few golf balls, marbles, and sand. If you do not have these materials, you can substitute the mayo jar for any huge jar where the golf balls will fit. You can also substitute the golf balls and marbles with any sphere-shaped object of the same size.

2. The task is to find a way to put more things into the jar by utilizing its space. Remember that you need to maximize the space to put in as much as you can.

The story goes that there’s a professor who has an empty jar. He then fills the jar with tennis balls. Then, he asks the class if the jar is full, to which they respond with a resounding yes.

The professor then adds marble to the jar. Next, he asks the same question, “Is the jar now full?” The class answers yes once again. Then, finally, the professor fills the jar with sand. The moral of the story? By putting in the right things first, you can actually add more things inside the jar.

Imagine if the professor added the sand first. Do you think the golf balls will still fit?

Of course not!

The same goes with your life and how you handle your tasks. If adults trying to manage their time will prioritize the smaller tasks and schedule your time around that, you won’t have enough left to schedule your bigger, more important tasks.

If you filled your jar starting with the largest balls, you’d find a way to squeeze in smaller balls until you can fill the jar with sand. The same thing can be applied to your life.

The large balls represent the most important things in your life: your family, friends, relationships, and work.

The marbles represent the lesser important things that you are still required to do.

Lastly, the sand represents the other things that do not affect your life but still need to be done.

By knowing how to prioritize these tasks, you can increase your time management skills. This will result in a more productive routine that can ultimately lessen your stress load.


3. Finding The Ace

This activity is best done with a small group. It’s a simple task that can teach people how to prioritize work and organize their daily lives. As adults, we are often swamped with a lot of work.

From household chores to employee tasks, it’s difficult to manage everything. However, sometimes, we only need to know how to organize.

How To Play Finding The Ace

For this one, you’ll need a few decks of cards. If there are three in your group, then you should have three decks for this activity. At a minimum, there should be at least two players.

1. Shuffle one or more decks thoroughly so that the cards will be in random order. Meanwhile, one deck should be arranged in order.

2. Give one deck to each player. Then, ask them to find the ace of spades.

3. The first one to find the ace of spades will win. Repeat the activity three times.

At first glance, this activity seems to be unfair. After all, the one who has their deck arranged beforehand can easily find the ace of spades in a matter of seconds.

But winning is not the idea behind this activity. Instead, it teaches us one important skill in time management: organization.

If our tasks are not organized the way they should be, it’s obviously harder to finish your task in time. Finding the ace teaches us that taking a few minutes to organize your tasks each day can give you better results in the long run.

This also teaches us that you should know how to organize your tasks better. In this activity, you learn the importance of arranging the cards first before finding the ace. Likewise, in real life, you’ll notice that more important things should be tackled first before moving on to the next task.


4. The Big Picture

We always hear the phrase, “look at the bigger picture,” when we deal with our day-to-day lives. You might hear it from your boss whenever something goes awry in a project.

However, this important phrase enters one ear and leaves the other. As a result, we tend to ignore just how important looking at the big picture is. To remind us, playing The Big Picture activity might help.


How To Play The Big Picture

All you’ll need is jigsaw puzzles. This can be done alone, but it’s much better to do with a team.

1. Distribute the jigsaw puzzle among the players. However, don’t let them see the “big picture” or the end product of how the puzzle will look like if it’s finished.

2. Let them complete the puzzle for a few minutes.

3. If they are having difficulties, you can end the activity early.

After the activity, ask them what made the activity difficult. They will likely say that they have no idea of the bigger picture, making it hard for them to put the puzzle pieces together properly.

You can then give them a picture of how the puzzle looks like and let them finish the puzzle. This time around, it will most probably be easier to finish the puzzle since they have an idea of how it should look like.

The lesson here is simple: doing tasks without thinking of the entire project or “the bigger picture” will cause unnecessary delays. However, if you know how to look at things in perspective, it’s much easier to complete the project.

5. The $86,400 Game

As adults, we all dream of having a lot of money that we can spend on many things. In this simple activity, you and your team can have a way to play out this fantasy. Plus, you’ll learn some important lessons that can help you change your view.

How To Play the $86,400

All you’ll need is a piece of paper for each player. If you feel like being fancier, you can even have a little more fun and print out fake checks where you can give $86,400 to each member.

1. The rules are simple. The players should use their money to buy anything they want. However, they cannot spend more than $86,400.

2. They only have 24 hours to spend the whole amount. After that, any unused amount will be taken from them.

3. On the piece of paper, the players should list all the things they will buy with their money. If they have a remaining balance, they won’t be able to use it anymore

The discussion here is simple. In 24 hours, there are exactly 86,400 seconds. Just like in the game, you cannot take a second back once the day is over. If you failed to use your time properly, you would never get it back once the day is over. So the question is now, how will you spend 86,400 seconds of your life every day?

6. Times Squared

Another activity for scheduling time, the Times Squared activity, helps with a few things. First, it gives you an overview of how productive you are each day. Second, it can help you analyze what activities take most of your time. Lastly, it gives you a way to balance both your work and nonworking time.

How To Do Times Squared

All you need to do is print out 3 pages with 24 squares each. You can arrange the squares in 5×6.

1. The rule is simple. Each square represents an hour of the day.

2. Throughout the day, the players should take note of how long they spend on certain tasks. For example, they take 8 hours a day to sleep. Therefore, they should label 8 squares for sleeping.

3. The first page should be for work-related activities. Then, the second page should be for tasks not related to work, such as sleeping, breaks, and meals.

4. The next day, the players should summarize all their activities on the third page. Mark the activities from the first page with a green highlighter.

After everyone is finished with their papers, you can then discuss what’s on the third page—the ones highlighted in green show productive activities. Finally, there are a few questions you need to address when analyzing the third page.

1. How many productive hours do you have?

2. What’s the ratio between your productive hours and unproductive hours?

3. What steps can be taken to increase or maximize productive hours?

For each player, the answers to these questions might be different. But the end goal is simply to analyze how everyone is spending their days. This is useful to reflect on what you can do more to increase your time management skills.


There are certainly many activities you can do to improve your time management skills as an adult. Each of the activities above helps someone improve aspects of their time management skill.

Whether it is to reflect on how we use our time, delegate our work tasks throughout the day, or simply remind ourselves to take a moment to look at the big picture, you’ll see that these activities can help you manage your time and tasks better.

Aside from learning a lot of things from these activities, they’re also admittedly fun! These are perfect for adults who want to take a step away from their work for a moment to learn useful things they can apply to their work.


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