In the Torah reading of Yitro, Yitro gives us a new perspective on time management. He observes his son-in-law Moses standing all day to arbitrate disputes. Yitro places a supreme value on Moses’s time, so he steps outside the acknowledged conventions and creates a unique solution. He suggests to Moses that judges be appointed to handle the huge backlog of cases.

Thus begins the all-important survival technique of delegation.

There are many things we can learn from Yitro, an inspiring and intelligent individual who chooses to convert to Judaism. But one important G‑d put us on Earth for a reasontakeaway message from this Torah portion is to value our time and the time of others.

G‑d put us on earth for a reason. We each have a purpose to fulfill. We each have mitzvahs to do, people to help, sparks of holiness to elevate. Our time is a precious resource and, unlike money, once we’ve wasted it we can never make it back.

“Let’s meet for coffee at 10:00 AM,” I suggested to a friend. But how was I to know Sarah would call to complain about her mischievous son, and Avi would drop in to deliver a thank-you bottle of wine for last Shabbat? Could I have possibly foreseen the rabbi asking if a committee meeting could be rescheduled, or Marty arriving to clean the rain gutters? Panting dramatically (I’d run only from a nearby parking space), I apologized for my tardiness as I glanced guiltily at my cell: “10:12? I cannot believe it!” And I launched into my litany of excuses, which actually served no purpose but delaying our scheduled exchange even longer. Perhaps I can take a lesson from Yitro, and search for creative ways to manage my time.

Valuing time means that we use it wisely. If I stay in the kitchen when the kids are visiting, or talk on the phone when my husband and I are finally the only ones home in the evening, am I shortchanging those relationships? Being present with our loved ones shows that we value them and their time.

Imagine the accomplishment of being present wherever you are, giving one hundred percent to your loved ones, your prayer, your study, your work and your colleagues. Focusing on the activity directly ahead of you without allowing your attention to stray will be a colossal achievement. It will undoubtedly take determination and much practice.

But it will be worth it.