The Shrinking Calendar

Purpose: To prove to participants that setting tight deadlines can help increase productivity.
Participants: 4 – 20
Time Required: 30 minutes
Materials Needed: Two copies of next month’s calendar, pens.

Steps to Follow:
a) Provide a copy of next month’s calendar to each participant. The simplest way to do it is to print out a blank view of the specific month from your organizer software.
b) Ask them to think about their major tasks for the month ahead and to fill each day of the calendar with what they plan to be working on.
c) After they finish writing their tasks down in their calendar, tell them that you have bad news: An important new task has come up and they will have to spend the last half of their month working on it. They only have the first 15 days of the month to tend to all of the tasks they initially wrote down. Give them a new copy of the calendar, with the dates crossed out from the 16th on.
d) Tell them to be realistic about reorganizing their tasks in the new calendar, and to just leave out any tasks that they think they have no time to perform.
e) Once they finish filling in the second calendar, ask them how many of the tasks they estimated they will finish in the new timeframe. Most participants will tell you that they wrote down more than half of the tasks.

Questions for Debriefing:
• How many of your tasks did you succeed to squeeze in only half the time you were given?
• What does this exercise tell us about setting deadlines for our tasks?
• What are the benefits of setting tight deadlines?

Tips on Making This Activity Go Well:
• In the unlikely case the number of tasks written down in the second calendar comes up under 50%, ask participants to think about the estimated time for completion of each task. This should prove that they plan to spend more time working, even if they perform fewer tasks.

Reproduced from "Time Management Training Games" by DragoĊŸ V.Iliescu