Time is a valuable resource in virtually every industry: one that always seems to be in short supply. It’s a resource you can never get back once it’s gone. As a farmer, managing your time should be your top priority. To do so requires both planning and discipline.
The first step towards managing your time is to know where your time is being spent. This is best done through technology that tracks your time and individual tasks. You must be strict in your approach to time tracking. Be prepared to admit that a portion of your time is wasted, or could be better spent elsewhere. This will allow you to use the data you gain to influence your future strategy.
Farming is both physically and emotionally demanding, and you must factor this into your time management. This means that tasks should be divided based on how much they will take out of you. It’s best to tackle the most difficult tasks first.
Routine is essential to tackling your day in an organized and energy-efficient way. Routine need not be set in stone–you can even have seasonal routines that change throughout the year. The key parts of your routine should be the beginning and end. At the start of the day, set your tone for what you will accomplish. At the end of the day, do what is needed to prepare for tomorrow.
It’s essential to stay focused while going about your day to day tasks. This will not only help you stay productive, but keep you safe as you work with dangerous tasks involving machinery. The key to staying focused is to take frequent breaks. Try working in intense intervals, taking short breaks often inbetween intervals of work. This won’t be possible for every task, but it’s a good method to apply whenever possible.
Lists are simple tools that give structure to your days, weeks and beyond. Lists should be made at the end of a day or week, so you can begin a new period with a clear set of goals in mind. The key to a good list is for all tasks to be actionable. This means that items shouldn’t be something complex, but rather things that can be started–and completed–right away.
It’s also important to implement a review process in your systems. This means periodically going through your time management systems, reviewing your methods to ensure they are working for you. This allows you to learn from your mistakes, and make improvements when needed.
Farmers need dedicated systems of time management, as time is their most valuable resource. Systems can change seasonally, and should be flexible to fit numerous types of tasks.