Team building and time management are connected in a lot of ways. From learning to focus on one step at a time to collaborating under time constraints, we’ll show you why team building activities are so useful for teaching about time management skills.
All this month we’ve been talking about focus, attention and time management on teams. We’ve shown how teams are critical to how team members focus, from developing processes that make work go more smoothly, to collaborating and sharing ideas that take teams further in the achievement of their goals.
We’ve focused so much on teams in particular to counteract some of the popular discourse around time management and focus–namely that it’s a problem for individuals to solve. On the contrary, we’ve shown that the best way to manage your time, motivate yourself, and focus better on what’s important is by being around other people and working with them (in general–sometimes time alone to work is important, too).
It’s this sense of community, and of having a support network there in case you need it, that really helps us achieve our long-term goals. Not only for individuals, but also for teams themselves. Teams that use their natural power of being able to combine different people with different talents and experiences together will be the most focused and successful.
As a result, it’s really not time management that teams should be focused on, but rather building a stronger team foundation, and a more collaborative environment. Time management is the result of this–it’s what happens when your team is focused and motivated, and team members feel supported and confident in their work and roles.
In this case, how can we build better teams? Why, with team building of course. So in this blog post we’ll make the causative connection between team building, time management, and team success more clear, by talking about the different ways that actively building stronger teams contributes to more team focus and better use of time.
While we will be talking about team building in general for the most part, we will also be getting into some of the specific benefits of puzzle-based team building, like the kind offered at Invite Japan. As we shall see, puzzles have added effects when it comes to improving focus and time management on teams.
The connection between team building and time management
1. Creativity and distractions
As we have explained before, distractions are actually an important part of being able to focus and effectively manage your time. Basically, your mind sometimes needs time to relax and refresh, especially when it’s concentrated on completing a complex problem or task, or thinking creatively. This is what “writer’s block” and other creative blocks stem from. Our minds need space to breathe after thinking hard for a long time, otherwise we’ll keep going in circles.
However, there is a big difference between creative distractions, which give you some light mental stimulation and/or physical movement (“mindful mindlessness”), and disruptive distractions that suck your energy away and leave you more brain dead than before. Some examples of creative distractions are doing some light writing, doodling, going on walks, doing the dishes or even doing some puzzles. Some examples of the latter may be Twitter, Instagram, and other social media, internet surfing, or watching too much news.
So what’s the connection with team building and time management? Well, team building provides a space for creative distractions–a bunch of challenges or activities, all within a set amount of time. The big difference is that it’s with the rest of your team. This means that the entire team can take advantage of the creative benefits of distractions together, and return to work more refreshed and ready to generate new ideas. In other words, your team will be more focused and therefore more able to stay on task.
Furthermore, because team building itself makes team members talk and think together, there’s even more of a chance for new ideas to emerge and spread. And since the development of new ideas is one of the hardest and most time-consuming parts of any task on a team, team building can help teams to speed up this process of idea generation.
2. Time management under pressure
A more direct way that team building and time management are related is that team building usually imposes a time limit on the challenges that teams have to complete. Because of this time limit, teams naturally engage with time management skills and their ability to solve problems within a set amount of time.
At Invite Japan, many of our activities have a time limit, usually around one hour (sometimes more, especially for outdoor activities like scavenger hunts). During this time period, team members are given consecutive puzzle challenges that they must complete together. Teams thus have to gather information, solve problems, and make informed decisions, all with a ticking clock telling them that their time is not infinite.
This is part of the fun of our team building activities, even though it adds a component of stress. But it does so in a low-stakes environment, separate from the normal anxieties and pressures of work. Teams therefore have the ability to test their time management skills without worrying about missing a deadline, losing a client, or making a major mistake that will affect the company.
By testing their time management skills in a team building environment, teams gain a better sense of how they function under pressure, how they make decisions, and how they collaborate when time is limited.
3. Focusing on one step at a time
Connected to this last point, another way that team building and time management are intimately related is that team building emphasizes taking each challenge one step at a time. This teaches teams to be present and focus on the task at hand, which has a lot of applications to managing time well.
With puzzle-based team building activities, like the ones at Invite Japan, teams are often confronted with a lot of information at once that they then have to sift through in order to find the right course of action. It’s also usually not possible to skip around. There’s a specific order that the teams have to go through, which leads them to their ultimate goal.
Within this emphasis on taking it each step at a time, there is a core element of focus and concentration. When we focus, we ignore all the other stuff that isn’t as important as the task we are working on. There are always distractions, and there are always other things that we could be doing instead. But being able to focus, and thus use time effectively, means being able to zoom in on what’s most important in the current moment.
Thus, team building helps teams to recognize this important attribute of time management. It forces teams to understand what the main goal is and work towards it, focusing on each task on the way that ultimately leads them to this goal.
4. The process of team building
We’re moving towards another major point about time management and focus, which is the importance of process. This is a further way that team building and time management are linked. Process, as we’ve said before, is how teams are able to keep members focused, by making it easy to think, make decisions and act without creating that much friction–which can lead to distractions.
There is a process in team building, especially team building that is puzzle-based. Teams have to work out ways to gather information on how to solve a challenge, figure out how everything fits together, and make decisions as a group. Once they get this process out, it becomes much easier to go through the rest of the challenges.
But this process is really aimed at two things. One is solving the ultimate goal, which is completing all the challenges within the time limit. The other is strengthening the team itself–building relationships, creating new memories, encouraging each other, etc. And really, these are both connected. Teams can’t complete the challenges effectively without improving their own teamwork as well.
Thus, team building helps teams to realize that processes matter when it comes to focusing and time management. Creating the right process, both in terms of coming up with ideas and solving problems and for strengthening the team generally, is crucial to being able to concentrate on larger problems and accomplish long-term goals.
5. Collaboration and success
The last way that team building and time management are related is that team building encourages collaboration, which allows teams to use their time more effectively, and create new ideas more easily.
Team building is an essentially collaborative effort. Good team building is designed so that it makes sense for the challenges to be completed as a team. Sure, someone might be able to do everything on their own, but it will be tedious and time-consuming. Team building shows teams that it’s much more effective to collaborate, and combine skills and ideas.
In collaborative environments, team members not only share ideas but also help each other out, motivate each other, and encourage each other to succeed. When one team member is busy on something, another team member can help out and make the job go quicker. If someone can’t do something because it’s too hard, another member can pick up the slack.
In this way, true collaboration leads to effective time management because the taks get done much more easily and the team is motivated overall to complete them. This is one of the major lessons of time management: good time management, and being able to really focus and succeed on any task, depends on the people around you. It’s a lesson that all teams would do well to learn.
The above are the ways that team building and time management are related, and the ways that team building ecnourages teams to improve their focus and ability to get things done. The takeaway is that by improving your team’s foundations–its relationships, communication, and collaborative skills–through team building, you will already be well on your way towards making your team more time-efficient. The reason is that, as we’ve seen, a functioning team naturally gets team members to focus and concentrate on what’s important.
With regularly scheduled team building sessions, your team can further deepen their team working abilities, which will help them be more productive, resilient, and motivated to find new solutions and ideas.