Setting Goals and Managing Time

“Setting Goals and Managing Time,” The Gospel and the Productive Life Teacher Manual Religion 150 (2004), 11–14

“Setting Goals and Managing Time,” The Gospel and the Productive Life Teacher Manual, 11–14


Setting Goals and Managing Time


Many people struggle with setting goals and managing their time effectively. Help your students understand how goal setting and wise time management can improve their lives and also help them better serve others.

Man mentoring another at work

Principles to Understand

  • Setting worthwhile goals gives direction to our lives.

  • We should set goals in a number of different areas.

  • Managing our time gives us control over our lives so we can serve more effectively.

Teaching Suggestions

Setting worthwhile goals gives direction to our lives.

Share the following journal entry of a farmer:

“Decided to cut hay. Started to harness up the horses and found that the harness was broken. I took it to the granary to repair it and noticed some empty sacks lying around. The sacks were a reminder that some potatoes in the cellar needed the sprouts removed. I went to the cellar to do the job and noticed that the room needed sweeping. I went to the house to get a broom and saw the wood box was empty. I went to the woodpile and noticed some ailing chickens. They were such sad-looking things that I decided to get some medicine for them. Since I was out of medicine, I jumped into the car and headed for the drugstore. On the way, I ran out of gas.”


  • What derailed the farmer from his goal to cut hay?

  • Why do we sometimes behave like the farmer?

  • What is a goal?

  • Why is it important to remain focused on a goal?

  • Why is it important to set goals?

  • How do we reach goals?

Share the following concepts, which can help us learn to set worthwhile goals:

  • A goal is an anticipated accomplishment.

  • The value of a goal helps determine its priority.

  • Prioritizing goals means to put them in a desired order.

  • A calendar helps us schedule all that we need to accomplish.

Most successful people set goals. Goal setting helps us plan and gives direction to our lives.

Write on the board Long-Range Goals, Intermediate Goals, Short-Range Goals, and Daily Tasks. Ask:

  • What do you consider to be long-range goals?

  • What do you consider to be intermediate goals?

  • What do you consider to be short-range goals?

  • What are some examples of daily tasks?

List responses on the board under the appropriate headings (see examples in the following chart).

Long-Range Goals

Increase my skills for advancement in my employment.

Be worthy of exaltation and becoming like my Heavenly Father.

Intermediate Goals

Complete a year’s worth of courses in classes focused toward a degree or certification.

Receive the temple ordinances.

Serve in the kingdom.

Short-Range Goals

Enroll in and complete a semester or quarter of classes toward a degree or certification.

Pay tithing and offerings regularly.

Be faithful in my home teaching or visiting teaching each month.

Daily Tasks

Complete assignments for my next class.

Read scriptures 30 minutes each morning.

Pray morning and night.


  • Why is a “Daily Tasks” list helpful in reaching goals?

  • Why would it be important to review our daily tasks in relation to our longer-range goals?

  • How can short-range goals help us achieve long-range academic and spiritual goals?

  • How do the long-range, intermediate, and short-range goals and daily tasks listed interrelate with each other?

It has been said that a goal not written is merely a wish. Help students understand that writing their goals can help them remember and reach their objectives.

Read the following counsel from Elder Franklin D. Richards, then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Objectives and goals should not only be worthwhile but also realistic. They should be an incentive to work effectively. Thus the setting of realistic objectives and achieving them becomes an important part of the great process of eternal progression” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1969, 123).

Ask: How can you determine whether a goal is realistic?

We should set goals in a number of different areas.

Invite two students to come to the board. Have one write temporal and the other write spiritual. Ask a third student to read aloud the story in the student manual (p. 18) about the young John Widtsoe, as related by Elder G. Homer Durham. Have the students at the board list each of John Widtsoe’s goals under either temporal or spiritual.

Ask students in which category (temporal or spiritual) they would place each of the following: church service, civic service, family, education, career, missionary work, finances, family history, physical exercise, leisure time.

Invite students to suggest specific goals that would be appropriate for each item in the preceding list (for example, in family history, submit a name for temple work; in finances, create a budget).

Managing our time gives us control over our lives so we can serve more effectively.

Discuss the following questions:

  • How many of you wish you had more time each day? Why?

  • Why do we lose control of our time?

Write on the board: We gain control of our lives by gaining control of our time.

Ask: Why is it important that we actively direct the course of our lives rather than just letting things happen?

Read together Doctrine and Covenants 60:13.

Ask: Why is it important not to waste our time?

Share the following statement from Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In a list of simple things young people can do to keep themselves “clean, and pure and valiant” to serve missions, he mentioned:

“Limiting the amount of time spent playing computer games. How many kills you can make in a minute with a computer game will have zero effect on your capacity to be a good missionary” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2002, 51–52; or Ensign, Nov. 2002, 48).


  • What principle does Elder Ballard’s statement teach?

  • On what do we often waste time?

  • What attitudes lead to wasting time?

  • How can modern inventions be time-wasters or time-savers?

One of the greatest tools we have to manage our time is planning. As someone said: Plan your work and then work your plan. Planning helps us bring future events into the present so that something can be done about them now.

Write the following simple rules to effective planning on the board. (This model could be adapted to accommodate intermediate and long-term goals, such as weekly, monthly, or yearly.)

  1. Make a list of everything you need to accomplish today.

  2. Assign a value to each item (for example, A = vital, B = important, C = of some value, D = waste of time).

  3. Do all of the As first, then the Bs, and so on.

Have the students read the “Application and Examples” section in the student manual (p. 20).

Read the statements of President Thomas S. Monson and President Gordon B. Hinckley from the student manual (p. 19). Have students find and summarize their counsel concerning priorities. List them on the board.

Suggested Student Assignments

  • Assign your students to take some time during the next week to sit in a quiet place and write their life goals; then describe on paper what must be done during the next five years, one year, six months, and week to move forward toward completion of one of these life goals. Invite them to write a paragraph about each life goal, describing what it means to them. They can write this in the “Notes and Impressions” section in their student manual.