We all have times where we’re not fully productive. People can’t work full-bore constantly. We need time to rest, recover from illness and injury, as well as spending time with family and friends.
This is not the time I’m talking about. I’m referring to time when we could be taking care of and improving our homesteads, but instead we waste that valuable time. There’s about as many reasons for this as there are people, but let’s look at when this happens.
Let me ask you – have you ever had a day like this?
At the end of the day, getting into bed, you look back and can’t really say what you did to improve your homestead? You’re tired, and you know you worked on projects, but you really didn’t seem to get anything done.
Or let’s say you take a week off of work, and at the end of the week, you can’t name more than two small projects you completed.
Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt.
I’ve heard it said that
Time is the only thing you can’t get more of.
Leaving aside the debatable arguments of fossil fuel scarcity, I believe this an important view.
You only get so much time to accomplish whatever you want to do with your life.
And not to get sappy or sentimental, but you don’t know how much you have. So you really want to make the most of it, and not waste it.
So how do we do that?
I’m disorganized. I do like when things are organized. But I don’t have “a place for everything and everything in its place.” It’s more…in a pile…with other semi-related stuff. If I’m lucky.
The garage is a good example. I waste so much time looking for that tool I know I have, or those special screws or hardware I bought. It’s really kind of embarrassing. I don’t like people to look at it.
I also feel like I don’t have time to spend cleaning up and organizing. This is not correct, and I know that intellectually. But I feel this crazy instinct that I have so little time, and so drive myself to get more done.
So I do other work instead of organizing like I should.
Bad monkey! No banana!
If you’re like me (oh, you poor soul!) or just find yourself searching for a tool or hardware way too much, organizing may be a big help.
When deciding what items to put where, consider what the relationships are between items, how often and when you will use them, and in what situations.
For example, putting a snow shovel with the garden tools may be a mistake. Yes, they’re all shovels, but the snow shovel will probably not be used in the summer, and garden shovels won’t be used much in the winter.
#2: Project planning
Do you do this? I find myself walking back and forth, getting tools or trying to remember what tool I was supposed to get. I also usually don’t have enough hands to carry what I need.
If you have a homestead of about 1/4 acre or larger, you know what I mean. I go from the garage, to the project I’m working on, to the garden, to the duck pen, to the greenhouse.
So frustrating and wasteful of time.
Here, organization may help as well, but let’s add something else. Consider the project you’re doing, and what tools you are going to need to complete that job.
You may want to write down a list. I use my phone on voice-type for this and it’s really helpful to write a quick list.
You can also put all the hardware and tools into a hod, toolbox or storage tote, to save on multiple trips.
If you do find you need another tool or hardware, say the name of the item out loud. It may seem funny, but that can trigger your memory later when you’re forgotten what you were after. I tend to think while I’m walking, and so I can forget pretty easily.
You could even write it down if needed.
#3: More efficient walking
Right along with #2, this idea has to do with a suggestion I heard from a permaculture person somewhere. Maybe Curtis Stone or Rob Avis?
When walking around your property, you should always be carrying something. Either a tool to put away, or feed to animals, or scraps to compost or chickens, or trash to the trash can. Why?
Because this way, you’re getting multiple tasks done without really increasing your workload.
You are walking that way anyway, right? It just takes a little more awareness to remember to combine tasks that are along the same path.
I do this, and I find it decreases my workload. Of course, I seem to never get everything done, but it does let me get more done in the time I have.
#4: Schedule your time
When I find myself with a good chunk of time to spend on my homestead, I know I will get more done if I make a plan of what do and when. If I don’t I’ll just wander around from project to project, not really finishing anything.
Make a time-and-importance ordered to-do list
This will let you see what you want to accomplish and when. I suggest you put the most important tasks as high as possible in the list, and try to accomplish them first.
And if at the end of the day if you only have the important tasks done, that’s OK. Great actually!
Cross off the tasks you did, and make your list again tomorrow. If you consistently finish the most important things done, you are very successful at homesteading.
#5: Efficient homestead design
This may not be something you can do right away, if you moved into an existing farm or homestead setup. But if you get the chance, you can make your place very efficient, so that it takes less work.
This is where permaculture design really shines.
I could talk a bunch more about using permaculture to design an efficient homestead or farm, but using permaculture zones is a good starting place.
Consider all the tasks you do from your home, how frequently you do them, and how many walking steps it would take. For example, if you take 153 steps to move water and food to the chickens, and it needs to be done 365 days times twice a day.
This equals 111,690 steps in a year. That’s a lot of steps!
The idea is to put the elements of the homestead together in such a way to minimize the total number of steps. So maybe put water and feed closer to where the animals are, or move the animals closer to the house.
Just don’t put the animals so close that you get too much “country air”, AKA manure smell.
#6: Put stuff away
Don’t think you’ll save time by leaving tools out for another day.
You won’t. Put them away.
First, if you have little humans free-ranging around your homestead, leaving out tools and hardware is just asking to have little hands relocate them.
Ask me how I know…
Second, not putting stuff away means you’re starting to get disorganized again. And there’s no guarantee that you will remember that you left that tool out.
So you are wandering around, wasting time trying to find something that should be put away. Maybe even accusing or getting angry at family members because you think they took it. Not that I’ve ever done that…ugh.
Third, you’re running the risk of allowing tools and materials to get damaged by rain or dirt. This is risking money as well, which if you’re still trading time for money to survive, will cost you more time.
And if you’re leaving out items like cordless tools, this can get expensive really quickly. Not that I’ve never done that either…double ugh.
#7: Finish your projects
Ever said or thought this?
Oh, this is good enough for now, I’ll get it done later. When I have more time.
Sure you will. Not.
There’s no such thing as temporary on a farm.
The longer I homestead, the more true this seems to be. I really have good intentions to finish, but I run out of time and just have to make it work.
Making something work “good enough” will work temporarily. Until it breaks and causes more work because you didn’t do it right and finish the project.
So just finish the project.
When one of my kids sweeps the floor, and puts the debris into piles but doesn’t put them in the trash, the job isn’t finished. They think they’re done, but they’re not finished.
The thing is, good enough really is good enough, most of the time. But if you do it right the first time, you can be sure you won’t waste time later doing that project again.
Extra Freebie tip: Don’t beat yourself up
When you run out of time, and don’t know what you did that day, don’t beat yourself up about it. Heaping mental abuse on one’s self is not the way to get better at accomplishing homesteading tasks.
Make a plan, get organized, and do better the next day.
You can’t change what happened, but you can make better choices tomorrow.
More tips? TPL FTW!
Misc #1. Have a bucket under outside faucets, to catch leftover or runoff water. This way you have water for the dog outside, or quick plant watering, or washing boots off.
Misc #2. Replant when you harvest something. As soon as you harvest. You’re already in dirt, just prepare the soil and immediately replant.
- Organize your stuff so you can find it
- Plan your projects so you know what you need
- Walk more efficiently by relocating items and combining tasks
- Schedule time so you know what you’re doing and when
- Design for efficiency to reduce unnecessary steps
- Put stuff away, because you probably won’t get back to it
- And finish your projects
Don’t put it off.
Life happens and then it’s August and you have no tomatoes. Not that I’ve ever done that…triple ugh.
OK, that’s all folks! Do you have any questions or comments about time management and permaculture? Ask your question down below and let’s talk! You can also use the contact form, or email me at info at thepermaculture dot life.
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