There are two distinct stories in Parashat Yitro, and we usually think about them entirely separately. The most important part of the parasha are chapters 19-20 of Exodus, known as Ma'amad Har Sinai, the revelation "standing at Mt. Sinai." Here, God offers the Israelites as a whole a covenant, and when they agree God speaks directly from the mountaintop to them, proclaiming the Aseret Hadibrot, the Ten Commandments (literally the ten "speakings").
Before that, we read about a discussion between Moshe and his Midianite father-in-law Yitro. Yitro sees that Moshe spends all day adjudicating conflicts, large and small, among the people. Yitro suggests that Moshe institute a system of courts, with lower officials hearing minor cases and only the more difficult ones coming before Moshe. The biblical origin of our tiered system of courts, or perhaps of bureaucracy in general.
What is the Yitro story doing here? It could go almost anywhere in the story of the march through the desert. It would make even more sense in a couple of weeks, after the detailed laws beginning in Exodus 21 in Parashat Mishpatim that form the basis for Moshe's work as judge.
There is a connection between these stories, and it centers on Moshe himself. In Exodus 18:18, Yitro says that if Moshe continues to take on every controversy by himself, "you will wear yourself out and these people as well." It's only after Moshe gives up some of his work that he is available for God to summon to the mountain and receive the Torah. It's only after Moshe steps back from the minutia that fills his every hour, that he is in a position to experience God's revelation. It's only when the people don't have to stand in line all day to talk to Moshe that they are freed up to listen to the Ten Commandments.
In Conservative Judaism, we say that God's revelation was not a one-time event that took place in the third month after the Israelites left Egypt. The text of Ma'amad Har Sinai almost hovers over the Torah -- it's one of the few chapters that does not begin with the connecting vav, the "and" that links it in sequence with what came right before. You could say that God's voice was speaking the Revelation all the time, but that it took Yitro's advice to get Moshe in a position to hear it.
As dramatic and momentous as the Ten Commandments are -- as much as we yearn for God's word to be clear and powerful in our lives -- we need to make time and space in our lives to receive them. To look up from the details, to take a break from consuming responsibilities, so that we are not weary, but ready.