November 25, 2019
BYU-Pathway Worldwide and BYU-Idaho students have many responsibilities. Employment, families, callings, and schoolwork can be a lot to manage. When our to-do lists grow larger by the day, we can remember the counsel of King Benjamin, a Book of Mormon prophet. He said, “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.”
We each face many demands for our time, but as we learn to set priorities and take things one step at a time, we can find the balance we need to pace our lives in “wisdom and order.”1
First things first
A key part of establishing balance in our lives is prioritizing the most important things. There’s a well-known object lesson that starts with a teacher in front of a classroom with a mason jar filled with a few decent-sized rocks.
The teacher asks the class if the jar before her is full; they agree. She then adds some pebbles that fill the spaces between the rocks. Again, she asks the class if the jar is full. They were sure it was this time, but she added some sand to fill in the remaining spaces. “There’s no way anything else could be added to the jar,” they thought. To their surprise, she filled the last bit of space with some water.
Our lives are like this jar. A lot can fit into a small amount of space, but if the sand or pebbles were put in first, the rocks wouldn’t have fit. The rocks represent the most important things we need to spend our time on in order to meet our goals. If we aren’t careful, we can fill our lives with trivial things, or reach an overflow with too many things to do.
To practice prioritizing, try this exercise at home. Pick three to five things to focus on. If you don’t get to lesser priorities, that’s okay. As long as you accomplish the most important things first, that’s what matters.
One step at a time
Even when we set priorities, we still can’t do everything all at the same time. Elder John C. Taggart, a former member of the Seventy, gave wise counsel in the August 2010 Ensign. Quoting a mother of 12, he wrote: “‘We cannot do everything, all the time, all at once. We can, through the years, do many things, at different times, one at a time.’”2
While looking at the priorities in our lives, it’s okay to put some things on hold for awhile — even though we may want to get everything done right away. The demands of life will always be present, but as we seek after “wisdom and order,” we can develop the patience and capacity to work on things one step at a time.
What are some ways you manage life’s demands? Share your insights in the comments below!