2 And now, as I have spoken concerning these plates, behold they are not the plates upon which I make a full account of the history of my people; for the plates upon which I make a full account of my people I have given the name of Nephi; wherefore, they are called the plates of Nephi, after mine own name; and these plates also are called the plates of Nephi.
3 Nevertheless, I have received a commandment of the Lord that I should make these plates, for the special purpose that there should be an account engraven of the ministry of my people.
4 Upon the other plates should be engraven an account of the reign of the kings, and the wars and contentions of my people; wherefore these plates are for the more part of the ministry; and the other plates are for the more part of the reign of the kings and the wars and contentions of my people.
(1 Nephi 9:2-4)
Nephi created two sets of plates, on which he recorded information for his posterity. The first, known as the “large plates” contained the history of his people. The second (the “small plates”) contained the ministry of his people, including sermons he taught, miracles he experienced, and an explanation of the scriptures. This clarity of purpose helped him to discipline himself and to use each set of plates appropriately.
Yesterday, I compared Nephi’s conscientiousness in choosing what to write on the small plates with my own decisions about time management. Today, I’d like to expand on this analogy. One reason Nephi could confidently eliminate important topics from his small plates was because he knew there was another place for those topics. “These plates…are not the plates upon which I make a full account of the history of my people…. Wherefore, these plates are for the more part of the ministry; and the other plates are for the more part of the reign of the kings and the wars and contentions of my people.” He wasn’t neglecting secular matters. He was merely separating them from spiritual ones, so that he could ensure that they each had their proper place.
In my life, there are blocks of time which are dedicated to specific purposes. When I’m in a financial planning meeting at work, I may wish that I were at my desk working on a creative project, but I’m wasting my own time and others’ if I let that wish distract me from the task at hand. When I’m talking with one of my children at home, I may be curious why my phone just vibrated, but I may ruin the moment if I start reading a text message or email when I should be listening. The same principle applies to my state of mind while I’m attending church meetings, studying the scriptures, or praying. I need to be there mentally, not just physically, focused on my current activity and not distracted by tasks which rightly belong to other blocks of time.
Today I will avoid being distracted from the task at hand. I will remember that I can accomplish more by dedicating myself to each activity during its appropriate time.