Families are more effective when they set goals both as families and as individuals and work towards them. Each family has many demands on its members, their time and their resources. It is important that families know what they really want to accomplish and work together towards those goals.
As I thought about what to write about setting goals, a hymn I learned as a little girl kept coming into my mind. It is entitled "Today, While the Sun Shines" and was written by L. Clark (ca. 1880, alt.) (Hymns, 229). There are so many good goals in this hymn - at so many different levels.
Today, while the sun shines, work with a will;
Today all your duties with patience fulfill.
Today, while the birds sing, harbor no care;
Call life a good gift; call the world fair.
Today seek the treasure better than gold,
The peace and the joy that are found in the fold.
Today seek the gems that shine in the heart;
While here we labor, choose the better part.
Today seek for goodness, virtue, and truth,
As crown of your life and the grace of your youth.
Today, while the heart beats, live to be true,
Constant and faithful all the way through.
Today, today, work with a will;
Today, today, your duties fulfill.
Today, today, work while you may;
Prepare for tomorrow by working today.
I have labored for many years trying to learn how to set better goals and be more productive. I am still striving to be better organized and productive. I have tried many different methods, but I didn't find any of them that worked well for me. I learned to take something from each method and develop my own method. I tried writing lists and became discouraged when I couldn't complete everything I put on my list. I tried prioritizing my lists and at least completed what I considered to be the most important.
I remember well an object lesson from a meeting many years ago. The teacher had a canning jar, some stones, some gravel, and some sand. She tried several different ways to put all the items into the jar, but she was able to fit them all into the jar only by putting the stones in first, then the gravel, and then the sand. With the stones in place first, the gravel and then the sand filters between and around the stones, filling every little spot. The object of the lesson was about putting proper priority on the people and things that demand our time, our efforts, and our money. The most important goals need to have top priority with the less important goals filling in around them.
I was an adult when I heard President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) say, "When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities." (See "The Great Commandment - Love the Lord," Ensign, May 1988, 4.)
I learned by personal experience that this statement is true. When I center my life in Jesus Christ, the most important things are taken care of even if tasks of lesser priority do not get done. I learned to plan my life a week at a time with the Sabbath being planned first. The fourth commandment reads:
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day:
Wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. (See Genesis 20:8-11.)
I schedule my laundry, cleaning, shopping, recreation, movies, etc. on days other than the Sabbath Day. On the Sabbath
Day I attend the regular meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Stake Conference, or General Conference. I spend time outside of Church meetings with my family - personally, using technology, or writing letters to them. I also prepare the lesson I will present the next week or do other tasks that help me to remember the purpose of the day.
The next important event I schedule is my temple attendance. I learned long ago that I need to schedule a definite time to attend the temple each week or I simply cannot work it into my week. I currently spend Friday morning in the temple unless I need to change my temple day for some important reason such as being out of town.
I learned many years ago why Monday is considered "wash day." I learned that when I do laundry on Monday I have plenty of time to get clothes ironed, mended, etc. before they are needed for the next Sunday. Besides, by having a regular laundry day, the family is also aware of when they can expect the laundry to be done. I also like to schedule my weekly cleaning on Monday because I feel more prepared for the week when my home is presentable.
As noted above, I have tried many different methods of organization. My latest attempt at being organized is done on a sheet of paper divided into eight blocks, one block for the tasks of each day and the eighth block for the projects I want to accomplish during that week. I list the chores, appointments, etc. for each day. If I cannot complete the daily list, I move the tasks to the next day or a day later in the week. I learned that I need to schedule the special projects on a particular day rather than simply keeping them in a list of their own.
I use the calendar app on my telephone to remind me of appointments and an engagement calendar to plan vacations or projects that are long-term or involve other people. My single sheet of paper is where I bring everything together for a particular week and a particular day.
Families that plan together find it easier to be in the know about what is happening with other members of the family. Family home evening is an excellent time for families to discuss their schedules and to finalize plans for the coming week. Effective families determine where and what they want to be and work together to meet those goals.