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What Are Six Characteristics of Successful Time Management?

Forget 25 hours a day. Sometimes, 48 hours won't be enough to meet all the demands of an active family, busy job, friends and community, and there's no such thing as "me" time. Yet there are those who juggle time with the skill of a circus performer and never break a sweat. Successful time managers fit tasks to time, avoid procrastination, plan for contingencies and control, when possible, additions to their workload.

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Manageable Deadlines

Rome wasn't built in a day, nor was it built in a single step. In fact, it was likely built despite confusion, conflicting demands and disorganization, not unlike an average day. Time management author Pat Brans adapted Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues in a 2013 piece for "Forbes." He says breaking goals into smaller work units and concentrating on these is the most efficient way to manage the goal. Writing in The Creativity Post in 2014, Jordan Bates agrees with the importance of focus when considering your to-do list. At any one moment, you can work on a single task, no matter if there are five or 500 items on your list. The effective time manager works one step at a time.

Time Horizons

"Effective time managers maintain several time scales," says Michelle Marriott, Vice President of Human Resources with a global public relations agency in Atlanta, Georgia. "Immediate, short-term and long-term time scales, for example, help determine task urgency." Dan S. Kennedy wrote in 2013 that all time management disciplines depend on lists, and suggests that several levels of list can assist the management of time horizons. Kennedy himself uses four lists, and says that a working list system, regimented and regularly used, is essential for effective time management.

Fast Starts

Fast starts are about discipline. Writing for "Good Housekeeping," professional organizer Lorie Marrero recommends avoiding the snooze button and getting up with the alarm, even if it requires an earlier bedtime. The extra time not only allows room to complete tasks, but also gives you preparation time for the rest of the day. A self-confessed chronic procrastinator, Bates says a little bit of determination pays dividends through a sense of accomplishment and stress reduction.

Effective Delegating

Delegation is usually thought of as a workplace word, but if the animal-crazy teen next door can walk your dog two days a week, you have a half-hour of home time that you didn't before. Marrero suggests scanning your to-do list for tasks that others can do, such as your husband or children. If your budget can absorb it, consider hired help, she says.

Using Waiting Time

With the capabilities of portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets, waiting time doesn't need to be wasted time. Kennedy suggests keeping audiobooks, ebooks, online media or even an actual book at hand to exploit what might otherwise be down time. Bates agrees that time spent waiting is an untapped resource, and further suggests keeping reading materials with you, for example, to make the process part of your habit.

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Saying No

Sometimes, you have to say no. Bruns again paraphrases Franklin, saying that learning to say no is an important skill time managers use to stick to priorities. Craig Jarrow, author of "Time Management Ninja" says effective time managers bravely defend their priorities, and considers the ability to say "no" a key time management skill, allowing you to work your priorities, and not those of someone else.

Photo via IuriiSokolov/iStock/Getty Images

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