One of the biggest hurdles to becoming more self-sufficient and raising more food is finding the time to DO IT! Improving your time management skills can help you grow more food, have a more prosperous garden, and become a better homesteader.
We all have the same amount of hours in our days. And we can only scale back on so many things. We’re all busy with jobs, family, friends, school, volunteer work, you name it! How do you fit chickens or a garden in on top of that too?
Time management skills aren’t just for offices. They can help us with every aspect of our lives. After all, we all have the same amount of time, in each day. Once we learn the importance of time management we can start to utilize it better and get more done.
Here are 8 time management skills that you absolutely must have to be successful on the homestead!
Why is it that you are interested in urban homesteading? Do you garden because you love it and it’s a good stress reliever? Do you raise chickens because you want to start an egg business? Depending on your goals for your homestead, it may look very different. If your goal is to grow a year’s worth of produce to can you will need to spend your time much differently than if your goal is to plant an orchard to start a farmer’s market stand.
What do YOU want from your homestead?
Once you know what your top level goal is, it’s time to figure out what the first steps are to achieving it. For example, I want a low maintenance garden on our current property. I don’t particularly like traditional gardening and would rather use well adapted perennials for the bulk of our food crops.
Here in Texas, part of being low maintenance is being able to withstand hot summers. I’ve decided that my first priority for this homestead is going to be saving as much rainwater as possible. In order to save rainwater, I will need gutters on our house. Before we install gutters, there is some roofing work that needs to be done.
While I do have a small garden going and a couple of chickens, I’m not dedicating much time to those things right now. My time is dedicated to earning the money it’s going to take to get the roof, gutters, and rainwater storage installed. There’s no way I could try to do everything at once, so having things prioritized keeps it realistic.
The easiest way I’ve found to prioritize is to make a list. Put your goals down across a top of a piece of paper and under each one write the things that need to be done to make that a reality. Pick the first step, and focus on that. Don’t stress about the rest!
Once you know what your top priority is, it’s time to do some planning. Its easy to say do the most important thing first. The first step is figuring out what IS the most important thing! Then once you figure it out, sit down with your calendar and pick a date.
For example, want to get chickens? Schedule a day to go out and buy the lumber you’ll need for a coop. Block out the days to build it, just like you would if you had a meeting or other plans.
Self awareness may not always come to mind when thinking of time management skills, but it does have it’s place. Sometimes it’s really easy to get excited about a project and take on too much. Having good self awareness will help you have reasonable expectations of yourself.
I know I’m NOT going to go out and do much weeding in the heat. So, I won’t make garden plans that require a lot of maintenance.
If you know you want to do a lot of traveling, having self awareness will help you realize that perhaps chickens or goats aren’t a good match for you at this point in your life.
Saying no may seem out of place in a list of time management skills, but it’s actually one of the most useful of the bunch! We cannot do everything all at the same time. Sometimes in order to make space in our lives for a new project we have to say no to something else.
Homesteading does take some time. Even a completely permaculture food forest requires some upkeep and harvesting. That time has to come from somewhere. Where will you get the time? What in your life will you say no to, in order to say yes to something much better?
If you’ve never heard of batching, the idea is that you take a chunk of time and dedicate it to getting a certain type of thing done. In traditional time management, this would mean setting aside a block of time for emails, or phone calls, or setting an appointment with yourself to work on a big project.
The benefit of batching is that you don’t lose time switching gears between tasks. Every time our attention is called away from something, our brains take a little while to reorient to the task at hand. When we stay focused on one activity, we can get more done in the same amount of time than if we tried to do several different types of activities in that span.
For homesteading, batching can be useful as well. You are using batching when you go out on a Saturday morning and get a lot of planting done. Or perhaps you dedicate a chunk of your day to processing produce. Instead of doing just a little every day, you knock out a bunch at once.
Spend 15 minutes per day
Now, the complete opposite of batching is taking just fifteen minutes a day each day to complete a task. This time management strategy can be very useful if you already have full days and scheduled weekends. Hack away at jobs a little at a time, and they will still get done!
This also a great way to work at very physically demanding aspects of homesteading. Chopping wood is one of those jobs that can get very tiring very quickly for me. If I spend fifteen minutes per day or so, I don’t wear myself out, but we also don’t run out of wood either. Related Post: Here’s Why You Need To Get A Wood Burning Stove.
Weeding, spreading bark mulch, double digging a new garden bed, or any kind of hauling lend themselves well to many short work sessions spread over time.
Have Realistic Expectations
And finally, cut yourself some slack. Things WILL go wrong. That’s not an if, that’s a when. Livestock will die. Plants will wither. Building projects will require five trips to the hardware store and then still turn out a little crooked. It’s just part of life. Don’t let the normal bumps on the road get you side tracked or disappointed.
If you are learning new skills, it’s not going to be perfect the first time, the second time, or the fifth time. Even if you’ve been homesteading for years already, sometimes weird stuff happens like hail storms and floods that set you back.
Think about Laura Ingalls Wilder in her book The First Four Years. All kinds of disasters befall them. And if Laura Ingalls Wilder had a tough start to homesteading, you can bet that the rest of us will too. For more encouragement when homesteading gets tough, check out Are You Discouraged? Homesteading Can Be Tough!
Don’t let a lack of time get you down. Just be ready to keep trying new skills!
Thinking About Getting Chickens?
Get ready with the free email course, Intro to Backyard Chickens. The course also includes a free, printable checklist to walk you through step by step!