Exercise 1: Pomodoro Technique Simulation
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. For this exercise, all you need is a timer and a group of participants. Start by setting the timer for 25 minutes and telling your participants to focus on a task during that time. After 25 minutes, the timer will go off, signaling the end of the work interval. At this point, everyone should take a five-minute break to stretch, move around, or chat with others. This exercise is an experiment to see if the Pomodoro Technique works for the participants. You can adjust the length of the work interval and break time based on your workshop’s length.
Exercise 2: Life-Size Calendar Creation
For this exercise, you’ll need to prepare 30 sample appointments that can be printed out and distributed to your participants. These appointments can come from your own calendar or be estimated from your group’s calendar. Write each appointment on 8.5 x 11 paper and print them out. Mix them up and give them to your participants to sort and arrange into their ideal week. This exercise is an objective with some rules. The goal is to create a life-size calendar, and you can add layers or rules to make it more competitive or thoughtful. See video for examples.
Exercise 3: Task Toss
This exercise is a playful and purposeful way to address the elephant in the room when it comes to time management – the many tasks and priorities that compete for our attention. For this exercise, you’ll need 10 bean bags or throwables. Give them to 10 different participants and simply tell them to toss the bags as quickly as possible while shouting out a task that they need to get done that week. This exercise is a fun way to get present, speak out stress, and get everyone laughing while addressing important tasks.
My Process for Creating These Exercises
I believe that the brain learns best when we do, rather than just learn. That’s why I prefer to use experiential group exercises rather than PowerPoint slides when teaching concepts like time management and task prioritization. When I received Natalie’s email, I used AI, specifically ChatGPT to really dial into her question and come up with some ideas.
Some of the ideas I received from AI were truly terrible, cringy or cheesy, and none of them were ready to go as initially written out. But they did spark a bunch of really good ideas for me.
The video above shows the exact process and language I used when communicating with the AI to get these ideas. Take a look; I think you’ll really find some good ideas in there to come up with your own ideas!
I hope that these three exercises inspire you to create your own activities for your workshops and team-building sessions. Experiential group exercises are a powerful way to teach concepts like time management and task prioritization because they engage participants in active learning. Remember, the brain learns best when we do, so don’t be afraid to get creative and try new things.