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Time management for farmers: ‘Busy doesn’t always mean profitable’

FRS explains how time management is essential for farmers.

Time management is a phrase often used in office environments; however, you can apply it to a wide variety of occupations, including farming.

It can seem that time slips away on a farm, and there are not enough hours to get through work. This is especially true if time is being managed poorly and used inefficiently.

Excuses to efficiently tracking time management are often heard, “we aren’t in it for the money”, or it would be “too depressing” to know.

This dangerous thinking promotes the concept that it doesn’t matter where farmers put their time as long as they are busy.

Busy doesn’t always mean profitable. Using good time management skills, farmers can adapt their future planning.

Looking to January, farmers can now plan the best way to use their time. Running a farm means running a business, and any successful business starts with a plan.

Goals

Take the time to work out daily and weekly tasks. Ask the question, what would make this a good day for me? Or a good week? We call these goals.

Goals should be achievable and realistic. Use a clear-thinking head when planning. Challenge yourself but be realistic when addressing these.

We recommend buying a diary, planner, book or using the notes section on your phone to work on time management.

You don’t need to write down routine tasks like milking, feeding etc., they will be done as essential work, but write out the other daily goals.

For example, spread slurry in the top field (11 am – 1 pm), prepare calving pens for calving season (2- 4 pm), take the tractor to the garage for service (4.30- 5 pm). Write your list first thing in the morning when your brain is fresh.

Don’t write down too many (4 or 5 max). You want these tasks to be achievable and always allow extra time for emergencies.

With each goal, allocate a time. It helps to focus the mind if you have a start and a finish time for each task.

Your brain will process that information more effectively and help you achieve your goal.

Prioritise

Put the most important task on the top, the next important second and so on. Tasks that were not completed should be put on the task list for the next day.

Also, include personal items. For example, phone a neighbour, get a haircut etc.

It may be difficult with a busy work schedule, but it is important to allocate personal time and allow yourself to take it.

Strike off completed tasks. It gives a sense of completion and is an effective way to see the progress you have made that day.

If you succeed in completing four or five key or priority tasks every day at the end of the week, you will have 30 jobs completed or, put another way, 30 goals achieved. In any workplace, that is a good week’s work.

Review

Lastly, it is important to review the hours spent on tasks. Note if you over or underestimated how long certain tasks take and adapt your plan going forward.

It can also indicate where help on the farm is needed and at what times.

More information

FRS Farm Relief provide help when you need it. Find out more about the services FRS offer at your local FRS Office.

Call 1890 790 890 or visit https://frsfarmreliefservices.ie/ for more information.

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