Let’s ban time management. Someone who says, “You have time management issues” has not grasped the nature of life and work. Those people want us to live according to their decisions.

Time management is not a calendar, or a PDA, or a new piece of software. Those aids help manage work and activity. Time management is really a decision about your life, who you want to BE, and what you want to DO.

Think first of life management. Take the time to decide what you want to BE when you grow up. No matter your age, can you summarize in a few sentences what you want to accomplish with and during your life? Once you know what you intend to be and do, many distractions can fall by the wayside. Your purpose is clear and that type of focus and specificity attracts similar people, activities, and opportunities to you. Purpose and definition are the beacons from your lighthouse.

Another element of time management is self management. Organize and systemize yourself so that you are accountable for your responsibilities and obligations. Individuals look at time based on such things as their values, personality type, and experiences. So, self management is just that: what tools do I need and how do I arrange my surroundings so that I am trustworthy with my calendar and schedule—people in my life can count on my being where I say I will be and doing what I say I will do.

Project management requires the ability to identify the scope of a project, the time line of tasks, and the allocation of resources—including time and energy. Of course, the skills of goal setting, planning, task identification, and completion are crucial. Family projects–such as planting a garden, painting the house, or preparing a child to leave for college—can be planned in the same way as work projects like installing a new piece of equipment.

The most basic element of time management is task management—the DO list. Knowing what needs to be done and doing it. The challenge of this category is not living the tyranny of the DO list and missing the making of a life. Seeing only the trees and never the forest. Seeing the WHAT and never the WHY.

If you want tools to help you, many software products, diaries, and calendar keepers are on the market to satisfy you. And, a pencil and paper can be as helpful. The point is Intention and Attention. You decide and intend who you are and what you are doing. It is purpose, vision, goals, plans. Then you give attention—you attend—to the tasks to get the job done. Life is more satisfying when we live on purpose, not by accident.

The American poet Carl Sandburg observed that “time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”

We would add: If time is coin, invest it; don’t spend it.