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Time Management Icebreakers and Short Exercises


Time management is an invaluable skill for everyone. Good time management, including effective planning and prioritising, setting goals and knowing when and what to delegate, helps participants to be more effective and accomplish more.

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Document TitleDuration
(mins)
   
Art Gallery - Creating a Visual Representation
40
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Art Gallery - Creating a Visual Representation

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 30 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 40 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To explore a particular concept, idea or problem, in an enjoyable way.
• To develop shared understanding of the concept, idea or problem.
• To identify areas of uncertainty or misunderstanding.
• To identify lack of knowledge, which the facilitator can address in the rest of the session.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Coloured stickers or shapes (see note).

Notes:
There is a variant version to this ice breaker which entails asking participants to prepare a collage from the materials you have for them rather than just a drawing. Instructions, timing etc for the variant version are included in brackets in the text. Whether you choose to use them will depend mainly on how much time you are able to allow.

For this exercise you will need:

Basic version:
Flipchart paper, coloured pens and coloured stickers or shapes.

Variation:
As above, plus a collection of old magazines, journals, postcards, birthday cards or similar, scissors and glue pens.

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Course Introduction - A Basic Introduction to Training Events
45
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Course Introduction - A Basic Introduction to Training Events

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 45 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To welcome the participants.
• To introduce the facilitator(s) and participants to each other.
• To introduce the facilities.
• To agree the course objectives and timetable.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of any size.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing, other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This initial introductory module allows the facilitator to find out more about the participants, to understand their expectations and to match them as closely as possible to the course objectives. By getting participant agreement at the start of the course, boundaries are set for what will and will not be covered. Where necessary the facilitator will be able to change or alter activities that will not meet participants' requirements or to spend more time on those that will. The objectives and expectations can then be reviewed at the end of the day.

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Gossip! - An Exercise in Communication
45
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Gossip! - An Exercise in Communication

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 30 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 45 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to communicate effectively in order to gather all the information available.
• To encourage participants to think about how they communicate.
• To encourage participants to work co-operatively to solve a shared problem.

Group Size:
The optimum number of participants for this exercise is 8, however it can be used with fewer. If you have more than 15 in your group, split them into teams.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing, other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This communication exercise is based on a logic puzzle.

The optimum number of participants for this exercise is 8. However, we have included additional ‘gossip sheets’ which enable the exercise to be used in groups of up to 15. (If you have more than 15 in your group, split the group in to teams of 8 or more and get each team to complete the exercise separately.) Please note that where there are more than 8 participants in a team some of the ‘gossip’ will be duplicated.

It is possible to use this exercise with groups of fewer than 8 participants, but as all 8 Gossip Sheets must be used it means that some participants would need to be given more than one sheet each.

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Hopes and Fears - Establishing Aims and Objectives
45
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Hopes and Fears - Establishing Aims and Objectives

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 20 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 45 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To establish participants’ worries about the training they’re attending.
• To identify what participants are hoping for in the training.
• To help establish/develop some objectives and ground rules for the training.
• To encourage an atmosphere of empathy and mutual support.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• A hat or other receptacle.
Hats can be purchased from Trainers' Market.

Notes:
This can be a really useful introduction to training that participants might be worried about. A typical example is presentation skills, where participants are often worried about having to make a presentation to fellow participants.

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Horror and Happy Ever After Stories - Sharing Experiences
30
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Horror and Happy Ever After Stories - Sharing Experiences

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To provide an opportunity for participants to share good and bad experiences.
• To gather real-life examples that can be referred to throughout the training.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
Our thanks to Buffy Sparks for her help in writing this icebreaker.

This exercise can be adapted to training on almost any topic, including, for example, sales, performance management, negotiation, change.

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Metaphor - Aims and Objectives
30
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Metaphor - Aims and Objectives

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To identify how participants are feeling.
• To explore their thoughts, fears and concerns in a comfortable way.
• To establish learning objectives for the course or programme.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This icebreaker can be useful for putting participants at ease. It provides a tool through which participants can highlight concerns and areas for personal development in a non-threatening and potentially humorous way. It is particularly useful when training around areas that participants may feel uncomfortable about or which they may find challenging.

The use of the metaphor makes it easier for participants to discuss their own development needs and any challenges that they face.

Depending on the subject matter, it is also possible to use the metaphor as a theme for the course or programme. Course handouts and other materials can be branded and themed around the metaphor that is used.

You will need to spend some time in advance of the session choosing a suitable metaphor for the topic(s) to be covered in the training.

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My Picture Says... - Identifying Values and/or Objectives
30
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My Picture Says... - Identifying Values and/or Objectives

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 20 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 30 minutes.

Aims:
• To provide an opportunity for participants to learn something about each other.
• To help participants learn more about each other’s values and motivators.
Or
• To help participants identify group and individual objectives for the course/workshop they’re attending.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to about 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
For Version1:
A selection of images, each printed on to an A4 sheet of paper. The images could be very varied and include, for example, abstract images, landscapes, animals, people and holiday scenes.

For Version 2:
A selection of images from Trainers’ Images (or a similar resource) that could be used to illustrate particular challenges, behaviours or problems that might be relevant to the participants.

Notes:
The time needed for this exercise will be influenced by the number of participants in your group. Allow 5 minutes for the initial exercise and 2 minutes for each participant to explain their choice.

We’d like to thank Nicki Davey of Saltbox Training and Events (www.salt-box.co.uk) for the idea for this icebreaker.

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Pass the Baton - Sharing Positive and Negative Experiences
30
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Pass the Baton - Sharing Positive and Negative Experiences

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to share good and bad experiences relevant to the subject of your course/workshop.
• To help identify issues related to the topic.
• To help participants identify key learning objectives for the course/workshop.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
For this exercise you will need a baton, or two. (Two is nice, because you can have a red one for the negative experiences and a green one for the positives). You can make a baton out of rolled up paper, or alternatively, for a fun twist, you might like to replace your batons with sticks of rock (candy), with the 'winner' from each round keeping the rock as a prize.

Notes:
This is a simple, fun exercise that really does encourage participants to disclose information about difficult situations they may have faced that are relevant to the course/workshop you are facilitating. It also enables positive experiences to be shared.

The icebreaker can be adapted to almost any topic, including for example, customer service, appraisals, negotiation skills and recruitment.

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Postcard Review - Post-Training Review
15
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Postcard Review - Post-Training Review

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To provide a memorable review of training participants have received.
• To remind participants of key learning points or action points from a course or workshop.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
A selection of picture postcards - one postcard per participant, and a few spare ones.

Select postcards with a variety of images: Countryside, coastal, historic buildings, modes of transport, animals etc.

Notes:
This exercise was developed from an idea submitted by Barbara Buffton. Barbara Buffton is an international training consultant, performance coach and published author. Much of her experience (and her clients keep coming back for more) is with large multi-national companies. She has had four books published, including The Which? Guide to Choosing a Career (1998).

Her most recent book, Follow Your Dream, is available from http://www.bookshaker.com/product_info.php?products_id=134

Contact Barbara on info@bbassociates.freeserve.co.uk

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Stepping Stones - Team Development
30
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Stepping Stones - Team Development

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage team development.
• To focus discussion on the team's approach to problem solving, communication, success and failure and team leadership.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants. 12 is an ideal number of participants for this exercise. More than 12 can make it a little unwieldy to run.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• One stepping stone per participant plus one extra.
Stepping stones could be sheets of newspaper (though these will easily tear) or used flipchart sheets (good for recycling). For a more robust alternative, you could use carpet squares (perhaps left over remnants from a local store) or Throw Down Marker Lines (available to buy from Trainers' Market).

You will also need sufficient space for participants to be able to stand as though in a queue.

Notes:
You will need an even number of participants for this exercise. If you have an odd number of participants you could ask for a volunteer to help observe and give feedback to the group.

12 is an ideal number for this exercise. More than 12 can make it a little unwieldy to run.

If you have more than 12 participants you could run the exercise simultaneously with two smaller groups - if you have the space and an additional observer.

Although we've listed this exercise as an icebreaker, and it can be used as a simple icebreaker to get participants thinking, it's also a great exercise for prompting a detailed examination of the way teams' work and can provoke plenty of discussion and learning.

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Sweet Review - A Simple Review/Preview Exercise
20
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Sweet Review - A Simple Review/Preview Exercise

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to review learning.
• To encourage transfer and personal application of learning.
• To check understanding.
• To agree any changes to a training agenda.
• To check that participants’ objectives are being met.

Group Sizes:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to about 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
For this exercise you will need sweets of various colours – enough sweets for each person to take at least two. Avoid using nut-based sweets (e.g., Peanut M&Ms) due to the risk of allergy.

Notes:
This exercise provides a simple, fun and totally random way of reviewing learning or setting up any desired outcomes for the day ahead.

Prior to the exercise you will need to devise a different question/request for each sweet colour you have.

For example, for a review, you might use:
• Red: Tell me what was your most useful learning point from the course.
• Yellow: What one thing will you do differently as a result of being here?
• Green: Who else will you need to share your learning or ideas with for it to be successful?
• Brown: What action are you going to take tomorrow as a result of your attendance on this course?

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Time is Money - An Exercise in Prioritising
30
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Time is Money - An Exercise in Prioritising

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 20 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 30 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To demonstrate the need to prioritise.
• To make the point that time is a limited resource and it may not be possible to achieve everything on the 'wish list'.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This module will take about 30 minutes to run if working with a group of 10-12 participants. This includes time to briefly discuss the key learning points.

Normally this exercise can be completed by participants working alone, but for larger groups you might prefer to get participants to work in teams of two or three to draw up a combined wish list.

In this exercise we refer to GBP but overseas customers should substitute this for the local currency.

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Time Preferences - How do you Work?
30
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Time Preferences - How do you Work?

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 20 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 30 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To demonstrate that individuals have different issues with time management, which require different solutions.
• To raise awareness of how individual preferences and personality traits play a part in each individual’s needs.
• To help participants engage with the topic and get to know one another.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
At least four sheets of flipchart paper for this exercise, (or two sheets of Magic Paper, which can be purchased from Trainers' Market) and a reasonable amount of space.

Notes:
For this exercise you will need either two flipcharts (or sheets of flipchart paper fixed to the wall) placed at different points in the room. There needs to be enough space between the two for the participants to stand in a line between them.

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