Your Most Valuable Asset
Time. It’s so taken for granted that we often don’t think about a half hour here or ten minutes there. Five minutes is not much time but five minutes with a loved one who isn’t here anymore would be huge wouldn’t it? What’s three more minutes to say goodbye, or an extra few hours per week by juggling your time more effectively.
Farmers and small business owners must manage time. That doesn’t mean not being available for family, but if you linger until 10 a.m. over coffee then spend two hours reading email, go to lunch, an hour on social media and four or five hours actually working on the business then you can expect to be less productive.
Or there’s the distractions. You need to do A, B and C – you start to feed the animals and find that a piece of equipment isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Who had it last and where did they leave it? Fifteen minutes later you’re back on track and a salesman calls. Now you’re 25 minutes behind. Chores done, you notice one is getting ready to give birth so stop to insure everything is in place. Now you’re an hour behind getting to B and, with enough interruptions will C get done?
At the same time agriculture is full of interruptions. A tractor breaks down, an animal gets out, something is delayed…sometimes things are out of control. You can’t be so on target focused that you ignore the sheep running towards the road or you’ll be out of business soon!
“We live in a culture where our time is rarely our own, where quiet time is mistaken for idleness, and interruptions no longer carry the taint of rudeness or rupture.” – The Time Bandit Solution.
While being organized, doing difficult tasks when your natural cycle is geared up, prioritizing and having “don’t bother me” focus time is natural for many folks, for others it’s not. Or folks think “John works for himself so I can call any time” and if John isn’t clear about availability, it restricts his time to tend to business.
Sometimes that might be “I’m sorry I can’t talk right now – may I call you back in two hours so I can talk to you without interruption?” Sometimes it’s knowing on this day I’m going to have to monitor new litters or that day it’s going to be cold so I won’t be able to get the seeds in the ground so I’ll spend it scheduling blog posts so that when I *can* get to those outdoor things, the social media truck keeps rolling on its own.
Realistic expectations are needed. Overwhelm is easy to happen, businesses fail from always being busy but not being a good time manager. It can cost a job if you’re working for someone, but if you’re the boss it is disastrous. If you find yourself headed down the black hole, learn to organize your time and slay the time bandits. Lock them up with limited time – before you have none for what really matters.
Sometimes Connor is puzzled when I seem to be doing nothing standing over a pen. “You’re just standing here…doing nothing.” Not so! Observing is a big part of livestock care. Knowing the normal. That can also be the regroup time to focus on something that will take more energy than normal. Balance.
It’s good for business. It’s good for farms. It’s good for life.