“I have SO MUCH extra time right now… What will I ever do with it all?”
How many of you have ever said that?
Hmmm… no one? No one at all?
I’m pretty sure that’s a thought that’s never crossed my mind.
Time management is a HOT topic, isn’t it? Especially with us homesteader-folk who attempt to balance an old-fashioned lifestyle with all the demands of a modern one.
One of my favorite books is Essentialism by Greg McKeown. In it, the author talks of the origin of the word “priorities.” The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was SINGULAR. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for 500 years. In the 1900s though, we pluralized it. It’s like we literally thought we could bend reality by changing the word. Like we could have suddenly multiple first things.
Ahem. Guilty as charged.
I know this is a big deal to many of you, because I get emails from y’all almost weekly on the topic of time management…
You ask things like,
“How do you do it all?”
“Do you really homestead, homeschool, and run businesses all at the same time?”
“How do I manage all this homesteading stuff without going crazy?”
Well first off, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I mostly definitely do NOT “do it all”. Not even remotely close.
I pick and choose what’s important to me and I skip the rest. But I am most definitely guilty of having multiple priorities, and don’t see that changing any time soon. There are just too many parts of life I love.
We homeschool, we homestead, we run some businesses, we travel, I started riding horses again, and at any given time, we’ll have some audacious project happening around the homestead.
Life is beautiful y’all, and I aim to experience as much of it as I possibly can.
I’ve done time management the right way and the wrong way. There have been seasons where I was constantly grumpy and out of breath, and seasons that were blissfully peaceful. (Who am I kidding? Sometimes those happen all in the same week!)
I feel like we have more of a groove now than we’ve ever had… I like where we are– we have time to rest, to take days off, and time to hustle. It’s a good mix and keeps me challenged without getting burned out.
As I was writing this post, I kept thinking about how I could make some sort of time management formula for y’all, but honestly? I don’t think that’s possible. We all have vastly different schedules and daily tasks, so it’s impossible to make a one-size-fits-all formula. However, what I CAN do is share some of the guiding principles which have helped me to wrangle my very-full life over the years.
I definitely don’t claim to be a time management expert, but since y’all have been asking, here are my top three actionable tips to help you manage your time as a homesteader. Or a mom. Or a business owner. Or just a human. 😉
Time Management for Homesteaders
(1) Big Rocks and Little Rocks
We CAN have all that we choose to make important in our lives. When something is important we make it a priority. When I say, “I don’t have time for that,” what I’m really saying is “I’m choosing not to make that a priority.”
If we don’t prioritize our life, someone or something else will prioritize it for us. (Been there, done that. Did NOT love it…) We get choose what we value most in our lives and what is important to us. I refuse to be a victim of my schedule, and you don’t have to be, either.
Dr. Stephen Covey uses an illustration of big rocks and little rocks that totally made sense for me the first time I heard it. He likens your to-do list to rocks, pebbles, and sand:
Rocks: Your top priority items (my big rocks are family, homeschool, crucial business tasks, and farm chores)
Pebbles: These are occasional events or things you enjoy doing (for me this is gardening, riding horses, landscaping the yard, etc)
Sand: These are the trivial tasks and time sucks (I’m looking at you, Facebook, Pinterest, and Netflix…)
If you fill up your jar with sand and pebbles, you won’t have time for the big rocks. And those are the days where we go to bed feeling unaccomplished and stressed out.
But if you fill up your jar with your big rocks first, you’ll have room for those, along with the pebbles and maybe even a little sand. (Yes, I do watch Netflix sometimes at night when my tasks for the day are complete. I’m not ashamed of that at all.)
It seems pretty elementary, doesn’t it? But how many times do we pack our mason jar full of sand and pebbles, and then complain about not having enough time?
If you make your most important things into big rocks, they will fit, promise. We all have the same 24-hours in a day. If you’re envious of someone who seems to be managing their time better than you are, it’s likely they are just prioritizing better. The key is being honest with yourself about what truly is a big rock, and what is not.
(2) For Everything There is a Season
One of the hardest concepts for me to accept when our live started to become more full was the concept of purposeful imbalance.
Holy cow! STOP! Aren’t we striving for balance at all times?
Yeah, that was my reaction too, but the answer? Nope.
I used to have this imaginary picture in my mind (key word: imaginary) of the perfect day having the perfectly equal portions of each part of my life in it. But ya know what? That’s not how it works.
There are seasons where we focus hard on homesteading. There are seasons when we are elbow-deep into every aspect of our essential oil business. And there are seasons when we rest (or just be pregnant and throw up a lot. That was not my favorite season…)
Life isn’t meant to be perfectly balanced all the time. Not if you’re actually doing stuff, that is.
(3) Let it gooooooo….
I’m not a purist. I gave that up years ago. I’m not trying to be the world’s most perfect homesteader and you can bet your bottom dollar I cheat sometimes.
There are days, weeks, and months when I pick growing my business over growing the homestead. Or I pick having a good day at homeschool over weeding the garden.
I don’t make all of our own bread.
Sometimes I have big gardens, some years I have little gardens. And some years I just have dead gardens. Oh well.
Are there bloggers out there who are better homesteaders than I am? You bet. Homesteading is at different priority level for them than it is for me, and I’m OK with that. (Honesty moment– it’s taken me a while to be OK with that– it used to really bother me…. It’s been a process.)
We chose this homesteading lifestyle for the quality of life it brings, not so I could use it as a big stick of guilt to whack myself continually over the head.
(And P.S.– sometimes letting go means just flat-out saying no… I say no a lot. It’s not always popular with people, but it’s my job to manage my calendar, and people will happily fill it for me if I let them.)
So my friends, there is enough time to do what you want to do with this homesteading gig– just prioritize, work in seasons, and don’t sweat the rest. You got this.
Listen to the Old Fashioned On Purpose podcast episode #40 for a Day In My Life HERE.
A Few Tools That Help Me Maximize my Time:
- A great daily planner can be pretty miraculous. Check out my Old-Fashioned on Purpose Planner, a planner I created to help homesteaders organize and plan. The planner includes livestock charts, gardening charts and tips, weekly and daily calendar slots, with space to meal plan if you want, and tips on how get things accomplished with my “Get It Done” method.
- There are a few tools I wouldn’t want to be without in my kitchen because they make the jobs that much easier.
- And ditto for tools I use to preserve our food around the homestead. The right tool saves aggravation and time in the long run, right?