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What Are Six Characteristics of Successful Time Management?

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Everyone gets the same amount of time each day, but some people manage to accomplish much more than others. Successfully managing your time requires following five simple steps. Decide what you need to do, figure out how you'll do it, pick a time to begin, start and see it through to the end. Make the most of each day by mastering the six characteristics of successful time management: be organized, adaptable, prepared, realistic, persistent and focused.

Get Organized

Take time to organize your thoughts and your work area. People are generally more productive once everything is sensibly straightened. Among Stanford University's time management tips, it suggests handling each piece of paper only one time. For example, don't toss letters and memos aside or sweep them into a "to do" pile. Instead, invent a logical filing system and make sure each paper goes where it belongs.

Be Adaptable

Time management isn't about adhering to a strict schedule with no room for error. You'll need to expect the unexpected and go by a schedule that allows you to roll with the punches. For instance, carry your materials with you, so if your car won't start one morning, you can work from home without falling behind. In January 2013, Forbes published Benjamin Franklin's methods for time management, which included always searching for methods of doing things faster and better.

Stay Prepared

It's not enough to accommodate sudden issues. To successfully manage your time, you'll need to be proactive rather than just reactive. Prepare for potential obstacles and have a backup plan in mind. For instance, it may not be realistic to write a research paper in two days. Preparation may require breaking the paper into three tasks, like research, rough draft and edits, with a deadline of three days.

Be Realistic

Chances are, you won't meet every goal you set. If a particular goal is too far-fetched, try being more realistic about it. For example, plan for double the amount of time you think it will take to complete tasks. Iowa State University suggests starting projects early and delegating minor duties whenever possible. If you're getting your restaurant ready for an inspection, for instance, you may have chefs double-check the kitchen areas while you prepare the paperwork.

Be Persistent

Having goals as the end result may not make you successful at time management, but establishing clear priorities will help. If work is more important than gossiping with friends, it should be obvious when to put away the phone. Stick to your priorities and don't let the idea of multitasking fool you. "Money Crashers" hints that some people are less effective when they multitask, causing all of their work to take a hit.

Stay Focused

Among Benjamin Franklin's time management methods noted in Forbes, one recommended forgetting about distractions that don't mesh with your goals. Pick specific times to block out the world and focus your energy. If someone knocks on the door, for instance, tell them you'll be available in 20 or 30 minutes. It's impossible to eliminate all interruptions from your life, but you can work to reduce them by learning to say no.


Based in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, Megan Torrance left her position as the general manager for five Subway restaurants to focus on her passion for writing. Torrance specializes in creating content for career-oriented, motivated individuals and small business owners. Her work has been published on such sites as Chron, GlobalPost and eHow.

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