Time Management Tools for the Homestead

For anyone out there following The Pony Draw blog regularly, you probably have noticed that it has been several months since anything new has been posted. That is because back in March 2016 I returned to full-time work after working only part-time since August 2015 shortly before this blog was started. In the hustle and bustle of establishing a new schedule the blog fell by the way side, but has not completely disregarded.

One of the questions I hear all the time regarding our homesteading adventures is ‘how do you have time to do it all’? The answer is simply that I don’t. There is never enough time in the day, the week, or even the year to get done all the things I plan or desire to do. The green tomato relish wasn’t canned because the tomatoes all turned red before I got to them. Seeds weren’t harvested from the cilantro because they had all dropped before I had time to trim and hang them. The horses are all unfit, the cow pasture remains without fencing, and my dissertation is so far behind schedule it is shameful. The biggest time commitment by far is employment. Two full-time incomes are required for our family right now and with mortgages, student loans, tractor payments, and our own personal activities it probably always will be. Heck, sometimes picking up part-time work is needed to fund expenditures outside our norm. Combine that with the duties of the farm, the completing of a doctorate degree, and maintaining (somewhat) a functionally clean home it is no wonder a little supportive care is required to juggle it all.

As a professional educator with a master’s degree and nearly completed doctorate in higher education administration, I have found that many of the time management tools we teach students are just as useful on the farm as they are at the university. Two of those tools that have become gems in my daily life are my weekly schedule keeper and my journal.

The schedule is a concrete component of my time management that is meant to serve as a road map for the week. It details in half-hour segments exactly what I need to be doing and when in order to make sure everything gets the attention needed throughout the day or week.

Time Management 01

The journal on the other hand is the flexible piece. Unlike literary journals where you write your thoughts and reflections, I use my journal to keep track of the tasks, appointments, and other important information that comes my way throughout the day. I set it up to contain a to-do list on the left hand side and a weekly calendar on the right. The to-do list is what I need to get done while the weekly calendar along with the schedule is when I need to get it done. Important notes and thoughts also get written down in the journal such as the phone number of a pet sitting client or an important date in the future. If I were to misplace the journal I’d be in real trouble!

Do I always stick to the schedule? No. Does the to-do list always get done before the next journal page is turned? Absolutely not. But these tools do help me stay on track a lot better than if I worked solely on my own memory. These tools work for me because a state of organization is my happy place. For someone that thrives better on a more hectic pace these may not do the trick and may be more torture than anything else. There are a variety of other time management exercises out there and a simply internet search will reveal many of them as will browsing the self-help section of just about any library or book store. The key is finding what works for you no matter what it happens to be.

Happy Homesteading and God Bless!

Jenn

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