There are a ton of jobs to be done on any homestead, without accounting for the repairs, random chicken jail-breaks, and miscellaneous troubles that arise. Keeping your household running on a routine is critical to ensure that your home and property are operating smoothly, allowing you to manage those emergencies easier.
When my husband and I talk about our lifestyle and hobbies, I am always asked “How do you find time for all that?”, like we are some kind of superhuman. While I do believe that if you really want to do something, you’ll make the time to get it done, a lot of it does come down to prioritizing, being organized, and being flexible. Because this has become such a common question, and I really feel that anyone with the proper motivation could do everything we do and more, I came up with a list of my top tips for time management on the homestead.
- Prioritize your tasks. This may seem obvious, but a lot of people have a hard time prioritizing, or they do it incorrectly. Prioritizing your work doesn’t always mean putting the most important thing first, and doing nothing else until it’s completed. Yes, there are situations where that is absolutely critical, but a lot of the time it’s about evaluating your time and thinking about the order in which things need to be done.
- For example: Laundry must be done, but it can’t be hung out to dry until it’s been washed. My average load takes about an hour. So while laundry may not be my key focus for the day, I know I have to get the load started early, so I can get the laundry out by a reasonable time in order for it to be dry by the end of the day. This means that I put “starting laundry” at the top of my list. It only take a minute or two to put in the load, and while it’s running I can get to those more important items, knowing my lesser task will be ready for my when I’m done.
- Same goes for meal prep – if you know you want to make those pork chops for dinner, don’t wait until an hour before dinner to run down to the freeze and get them. Take them out early so they have time to prep, and you aren’t frustrated and rushing when it’s time to cook.
- Consider external factors. Do you have tasks that are time sensitive? Maybe a local business has peculiar hours, or you need to weed a certain garden bed before the hot sun hits it. Taking into account external factors will help you in your scheduling.
- Do like-tasks together. Consider doing chores that use the same tools, supplies or are in the same area together. Reducing the amount of time you are running back and forth for things will help you get more done. If weeding that second section of garden space while you’re right next to it will save you a trip later, just do it!
- Think sustainably. Reduce waste if you can. This borrows a little from my above point as far as supplies go. A huge example for this is water. I have a well, so even though we are far from a drought season this year, we always live conservatively with our well. If I know I need to mop and wash the windows, I’ll do the windows first, and then use the same water to mop the floors, as the windows are never that bad, and the water is still pretty clean. Which brings me to my next bit of advice –
- Wash down. Don’t sweep and vacuum before you dust. Don’t do jobs that are going to undo the work you just did. Clean your house from the top down, and before you vacuum, sweep or mop, walk away. Allow all the dust, dirt, and whatever else you’ve stirred up into the air, settle back down before you clean the floors. This ensures you get the cleanest finish.
- Set yourself up right. If you can do something now that will help you out later, do it. Take that extra minute to put something away in the right spot, or to cut those extra veggies for your dinner prep while you’re making lunch, etc. One big area where I see people fail here is when it comes to garden implements and yard tools. “I’ll clean it later” it way too common of a saying. Don’t clean it later, clean it now. If you put it away dirty, chances are you’ll forget about it, and then you have to clean, and possibly even repair your tool when you take it out to use it next. Always put tools away clean, so you are ready to grab-and-go next time.
- Be flexible. This is important to remember. As wonderful as your plan for the day might be, sometimes things just don’t go that way. Be open to reevaluating your plan to accommodate the new circumstance. Sometimes this means pushing less important items to another day, and other times you can still get everything done with a little bit of gusto and creative thinking.
- Stay positive. In the end, we choose our lifestyle because we enjoy it. We love working with our hands, making things, carrying for our homes, gardens, livestock, property and families. You only get one chance at this life, so don’t get so caught up in the prioritizing, the work and the chores that you lose sight of the real reason you’re even doing it! At the end of the day, make sure you remember that spending time with family, getting time to relax and do the things you enjoy are two of the biggest priorities we have.