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Time Management Exercises


I recently piloted an in-house 4 hour Time Management class. Having run it once, I really feel that I need to make it more practical, and wondered if anyone could suggest some fun or interesting exercises. possibly along the lines of case studies, in trays or role plays. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Helen Hughes

79 Responses

  1. time bandits
    I recently ran a course in time management where the delegates had a pre course questionnaire to complete.
    One of the “questions” was about “time bandits” ~they had a list of common timewasters in a day and were asked to tick all the ones that affected them. At the event each person was asked to briefly explain the worst one for them and then the group offered solutions/advice. It was really helpful, especially as it id’d some organisational problems, some problems where one delegate could actually solve the problem of another and one where a delegate WAS the time bandit!
    Hope that helps
    Rus Slater

  2. Time Wasters Excercise
    Another version to Rus’s Time Bandits is the Time Wasters Excercise.

    Ask the delegates to write down different things on a plain sheet of paper that they do on day to day basis apart from the tasks that are supposed to carry out as part of their jobs. Do not reveal delagates at this time that these are the potential ‘time wasters’. Give them a few examples such as tea/coffee breaks, smoke breaks etc.

    Ask them to scribble on different parts of the sheet rather than making a list.

    Now ask them to start tearing off bits of paper each containing one ‘time waster’. What is left of the paper after tearing off all the ‘time wasters’ is the actual time to carry out their tasks.

  3. Jar Exercise
    This is from a training brief I have, not tested it out yet. You need required number of large jars filled with assorted bits and pieces of differing sizes. – split group into 3s, each group having their own jar and contents. The objective is to empty the jar then put all the stuff back in so that the top can be replaced easily. One of the group must note what order the objects are placed back into the jar.

    The findings should indicate that the biggest item needs to be put in the jar first to be successful. It demonstrates in Time Management terms, that if we want to achieve the important objectives in our lives we must first identify the goals that are important. Once identified you must start to manage the big ones first, you then fit the smaller ones into your life around the big one.

    Hope that makes sense.

  4. World class T.M. task
    We have developed an excellent task which can be tailored easily to specific groups or individuals. drop an email and we can discuss if this would benefit your event(s).



  5. Building Bridges
    One exercise I do is to split the group into 2.
    Provide each group with one piece of standard A4 paper, and one piece of standard A2 Flip paper, and a roll of sellotape. The objective is to build a completely free-standing bridge (ie NOT taped to the table or the wall)30cm high (long side of A4) and 60cm (short side of flip) long in 5 minutes that will support a toy car. Obviously a deadline involved, however can open a discussion around why succeeded/failed usually brings out – no planning, too long planning, no clear roles etc..

  6. In Tray Exercise
    I had exactly the same problem with my Time Management course. I found an excellent activity called the ‘in tray exercise’ which has received some superb feedback from delegates. Drop me an e-mail and I’d be happy to share it with you.

  7. Time Mgt In-Tray Exercise

    I have a Time Mgt: In-tray exercise that is about an 1-1.5 hours in length which I use regularly, quie a few Training Zone readers have contacted me to use it and the feeback has been very positive.
    Email me directly and I’ll send it on.
    many thanks

  8. 20 minute time exercise
    Hi there! I run loads of Time Management courses and the exercise that I get most comments on is this:
    Ask the delegates to jot down 10 things they did at work yesterday ( no order, no prompts, no comments); on a separate sheet of paper, jot down the 5 topics that they expect to discuss at their next appraisal/performance review. Look at the two lists together and mark in some way on the first list all the things which have a direct link to the second list. (Delegates may try to make indirect links to justify why they did certain things!)
    The ‘light bulb’ moment is the recognition that we spend time on things which have little or no consequence to our performance. I usually ask them to plot the list of 10 things on an “Importance/Urgency” grid. They need to concentrate on the “important & urgent/non-urgent(therefore, planned) activities.
    I like this activity as it clearly links performance with activity. hope this helps!

  9. In tray activity

    Would it be possible to receive your in-tray training activities as I have a time management seminar to deliver and need some nice active and dynamic activities to boost the participants


  10. Need the Intray activity

    I’ve to run a session on Time Management and i somehow liked the In-tray exercise a lot and searched for more information, but can anybody pass me something which is appropriate to run in a 4 hours traininh session with all the rules.Its a little urgent.


  11. Time Management excercises



    I am very much interested in time management exercises as well. Can you help me?

  12. Please explain

    How will the students perform the exercise though. I have tried to do it but unsuccesfully. The bridge would not support a toy car

  13. copy of time management in-tray exercise

    Please could I have a copy of any time management in-tray exercises. Many thanks, Tom

  14. In-tray exercise
    I have been readind your post . i am going to lead a workshop on ‘time management’ for students and I would like to have a look at
    your famous in-tray exercise. can you e mail it to me please.
    Mrs Robertson

  15. Exercises, activities for Time Management training


    My name is Cristiana Marcu and I am trainer. For the moment I have a Time Management training and I feel confused about the activities that might work with the participants.

    I saw you comment from 2006 at the same question related to Time Management exercises and activities.

    Can you please share your ideas that will help the training to be more active? My e-mail address is

    Thank you very much!

    Best regards,

    Cristiana Marcu

  16. help!

    Dear J Read, I am going to give a Time Management seminar (8hrs) and I need an activity with a sound impact on my participants. Can you help me sending me your "In Tray" exercise?


    Thank you so much


    Nicola Zema

  17. Time Managment Exercise


    Could any one share the ‘In Tray’ Exercise with me. I need some exercises to ‘juice’ up my time management training.

    If you can please share it with me at.

    Thank you.


  18. In-tray exercise


    The note on the post for the In-tray exercise says to e-mail direct but doesn’t appear to give a direct e-mail.  Can anyone advise me who to e-mail to be able to get hold of a copy of this exercise.  I have a group of learners that only seem to digest and learn from activities and this seems to hit the nail on the head for this group.  I would really appreciate anyone being able to supply me with a  copy of this.

    Kind regards




  19. Time Management – In Tray Exercise

    This looks interesting for a session I need to run.  Can you send me the details, please?

  20. TM Exercise

    Hi Gary

    Am quite new to the site, and just wondered if I could jump on the coat tails of the other user who was looking for some exercises to beef up a TM presentation – I’ll be in the same boat with a group of Spaniards from a leading insurance company at the end of August, and would really appreciate any help you could give me.

    Thanks a million


  21. In Tray Exercise

    Hi there

    I’ve heard a lot about the In Tray Exercise and would love to include it in a TM workshop I am giving here in Madrid at the end of August.

    Would be much appreciated if you could send me the file.

    Many thanks,


  22. Can someone send me the Time Management In Tray Exercise


    I really need this In Tray Exercise and was wondering if someone could send it to me at my email address below:



    Thank you very much,



  23. time management in tray exercise

    Hey there!  This sounds like a popular exercise.  I have been teaching Time Management for 10 years and am always looking for new ideas.  Any chance I might be able to get a copy from you?

    Best regards,


  24. In-Tray Exercise

    I’d really like to receive a copy of the In-Tray Exercise for an internal time managment sesion that I am hoping to run soon.  Has anyone actually received it?  I just ask because the original posts were over 4 years old!

  25. In tray exercise


    Would it be possible for you to e-mail me a copy of your in-tray exercise.

    Much appreciated.


  26. in tray exercise – needs help


    in bad need of in tray exercises. any help will be very much appreciated.

    please send sample in this add:

    thanks and God bless

  27. In-Tray excercise

     I’d really like to receive a copy of the In-Tray Exercise for an internal time managment sesion that I am hoping to run soon.  Has anyone actually received it? 

    My e-mail address is:

    Many thanks


  28. in tray exercise for time management course

    hi j read,

    hope you still get to read this since your comment was posted four years ago. what’s the objective of the in tray exercise? i want to know if it’ll fit in the TM course i deliver in house.

    many thanks. ivy


  29. Time Management – In-Tray Activity.


    I would highly appreciate if you will email to me the In-Tray Time Management activity. My email ID is <>.

    Best regards


    Mumbai, India




  30. kindly share

    Hi ,


    Can you pls send me this "In Tray Exercise"… as I am going to conduct a training on Time Management..


    Thanks & regards.


  31. Hello! Question regarding the IN Tray ex!



    My name is Oran and  I was just wondering if she ever emailed you the "In Tray exercise"

    in 2008. If she did, I would REALLY appreciate it if you shared it with me. I am running a short session

    on time management and am looking for powerful exercises to do with a huge group of 50!


    Thanks so much!



  32. Time management In tray exercise


    Just wondering if you could forward me your in tray exercise.

    many thanks


  33. need for In tray exercise


    I am Suprabha.  I have train teachers on TM.  Would it be possible to share the in tray exercise? It would be a great help. My mail Id is



  34. In tray exercise


    I saw your post and will be running a time management seminar. If you could send me the In Tray Exercise it would be much appreicated. thanks.






  35. In tray exercise

    Hello there,

    I also saw your post and I would much appreciate if you sent me your In Tray Exercise.

     Thank you in advance.


    Marios Stylianou

  36. Time Mnagement Exercise

    I read you cxomments with interest. I will be running a tiem management session as part of a management coaching programme and would like more details of your exercise as I would like to included it in the programme


    thans you


    Andrew Maund

  37. Time Mnagement Exercise

    I read you cxomments with interest. I will be running a tiem management session as part of a management coaching programme and would like more details of your exercise as I would like to included it in the programme


    thans you


    Andrew Maund

  38. In Tray Exercise & Time Managment Exercises


    I am also really interested in the in-tray exercise to use in management training.  If anybody has it could they please send it to me:

    I am running a time managment course next week and am looking for interesting AL style of exercises to include.  If anybody has anything else they are willing to share I would be very grateful.

    Many thanks

    Sharon ūüôā

  39. In Tray exercises on time management

      Dear J Read

      I am a trainer and I have to take session on time management for around 4 hrs. 

       Kindly provide me your "In Tray" exercise on following e-mail

       I will be greatful.


  40. Read

    I’ve to run a session on Time Management and i somehow liked the In-tray exercise a lot and searched for more information, but can anybody pass me something which is appropriate to run in a 4 hours traininh session with all the rules.Its a little urgent. Sell Car

  41. Time Management Exercise


    Hi Gary,

    A while ago on Training Zone, you mentioned an exercise that you had created for a Time Management session. 

    Are you able to share this with me? 

    I am currently working on re-designing our TM session and would be interested to see what you have put together. 

    My email is:

    Thank you in advance


  42. Hey Pooja , 

    Hey Pooja , 

    I know this response is long time ago , but if you still have it that would be great .

    Thanks in advance .



  43. In tray exercise

    Good afternoon,

    my name is Elena  and I live in Madrid, Spain.  I am delivering a time management session of 2 hours to some managers and I was wondering if you could share with me the in tray exercise you mention in you post (a few years ago).

    thanks very much in advance.

    Best regards


    My email is


  44. Read It!

    Having the best time management exercises leads to many other developments in one’s personal life. If they had practiced to follow some time management activities, anyone can enjoy the career at hand, and at the same time have a healthy social life.

    I would suggest that everyone should try using some good time management application to manage their regular tasks and time. Recently, I have come across one best article related to various time tracking applications. Here's the link ( ). Read it!

  45. Jar Exercise – a variation

    I've used a variation of this exercise using a fish tank, adding rocks first, then pebbles and then sand. At this point the learners think the tank is 100% full. You then pour in a big jug of water!

    I also like and have used Time Bandits and look forward to trying out Foxy55s '20 minute time exercise. 

    Thank you, Jon.


  46. Request for the in tray exercise

    Hi Pooja,


    I'm Vikas and new to this site. I'd really be  grateful for you to share the in tray exercise as I'm struggling with material for an upcoming seminar




    +91 9833439713

  47. Request for the Time Management Task

    Hi Gary,


    This is Vikas and I was wondering and hoping if you could share the time management task for my use in an upcoming seminar.


    Warm Regards

  48. Hi. I noticed this old post

    Hi. I noticed this old post as I'm frantically trying to find an interesting TM exercise. Could you please send me a copy of your in-tray exercise as it might be just the thing (and save my sanity)?

    Thanks if you can

    Brendan Doyle


  49. Exercises

    Hi I am running a time management 1 day workshop, has anyone got any good exercises to keep the group active during the day please


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