Expansive veggie gardens. Flocks of laying hens. Chicken coop construction. Milk goats. Home baked bread.
Just the normal to-do list for the average modern person today, right?
Hahahahahaha. Haha. HA.
Overwhelm is a THING when one embarks upon this homesteading gig… Having one foot planted in the 21st century while adopting homestead practices from a much slower and simpler time ain’t no joke, y’all.
If you’ve ever felt flutters of anxiety when you’re planning out your homestead projects (or let’s be honest— sometimes it’s a steamroller— not a flutter…), you gotta watch this week’s video:
- I’ll show you my tried-and-true formula for stopping overwhelm in its tracks
- Look over my shoulder (literally) as I work through the exact exercise I use whenever I’m tackling any brand new (BIG) project
- I don’t like fluffy suggestions, so if you’re looking for a video that tells you to take a deep breath, this isn’t it.
How to Start a Homestead When You Feel Overwhelmed
(Watch the video here, OR keep scrolling for the text version of the video!)
If you’re in the beginning stages of building a homestead or planning a homestead and you can’t shake that paralyzing feeling of being overwhelmed, this video will give you my step-by-step formula for turning your overwhelm into action. This is my no-fluff approach and the exact same method I use in my own life to get all of my big projects done!
It’s no secret that we have done a lot of big projects over the years, whether it was our house remodel, building a shop, or pretty much redoing every inch of our homestead property. And while we aren’t in the “start a homestead stage” anymore, we do have big projects happening elsewhere in our lives.
Our latest project really had me feeling paralyzed for a while… (It’s actually a blog project and I’ll get to tell you more about it in the upcoming weeks!) When I first started to conceptualize the project, I remember feeling this crippling sense of fear and overwhelm– I felt like I couldn’t take action because I didn’t know where to start. However, once I used this mapping method that I’m about to show you, everything started to flow.
(The explanation is best seen in the actual video, because you can watch me write everything out. However, here is the text version!)
1. Get it Out of Your Brain
The first step of this process is getting all the jumbled ideas, goals and worries out of our head and onto paper, because when they’re floating around in your brain, they seem a 1000 times more daunting and overwhelming then they really are.
You can do this exercise in a planner, on a giant whiteboard or just on a piece of scratch paper. It’s totally up to you. The first step of this process is to write down everything you have swirling in your head and get it out of your brain. For the sake of this video, I’m going to pretend like we’re starting a homestead.
Theoretically, if I’m in a “build a homestead” scenario, these might be some of the things I’m seeing on blogs or YouTube that I have floating around in my head. I want to do all of them, I want to do all of them now and I don’t know which one to start first. (Can you relate to that feeling? Ha!)
2. Organize the List
Once you have your list, go through and assign dates or time periods for each of the items on your list. Some of these might not happen for a couple years, some of them might happen next week. It doesn’t matter when they happen, as long as you have a plan.
For the sake of this exercise, we’re going to pretend that chickens are something I want to have happen within the next two months (March). We’ll say the garden is on track for April, the goats will wait until next year, the bread baking will wait until winter time, the bees are two years out, and cheesemaking will happen in the winter time when things are slower.
Once I have my timeline laid out, I’m going to highlight the projects/tasks I need to start working on immediately. For the case of this example, that would be chickens and the garden, primarily.
Now I have my three things chosen (your list might be more or less), I need to make an agreement with myself to be at peace with the rest of the things I am going to mentally and physically put on the back burner for now.
3. Break It Down Even Further
Next, I’m going to make a new column for the immediate action items I chose (chickens and a garden). I need to break down each of these projects and get very specific on what needs to happen for each of these goals to actually occur.
For chickens it might be, make roosts, make or find nesting boxes, source chicken feed, and figure out my electricity situation.
For the garden, I may need to borrow a tiller, amend the soil with natural fertilizer, make a map of the rows so I know how much food I could feasibly fit there, and order seeds.
Obviously this is just an example and you will likely need to break it down in a different way, depending on your situation. However, keep in mind the more granular you can get with your steps and your processes, the more tension will lift from your brain.
4. Assign & Prioritize Tasks
Once I have a break down of each item, I need to prioritize each step and then figure out who is responsible for each step. If you have a spouse, maybe they’ll be more prone to doing some of these items, or maybe you have a child or someone who can help you.
Or perhaps it’s just you and that’s perfectly okay, too. For our situation, I would probably assign Christian to figure out the electricity and also find a tiller, while I would likely work on the rest.
Then I prioritize which comes first, so I know exactly what I can start working on tomorrow and what must wait. Mapping out rows in the garden would be first, ordering the seeds would be second, finding the fertilizer or manure would be third, and then Christian could figure out the tiller situation closer to springtime.
For chickens, figuring out the electricity would be first and foremost to make sure chickens could actually be a possibility for us. Then nesting boxes would be second, roosts would be third, and right before I’d get the chicks from the feed store, we’d work on making sure we have a good source of chicken feed.
5. Do It Scared
The last step? You just gotta do it! Like I mentioned on my video about setting homestead goals, starting anything of value is almost always like leaping off a cliff. Oftentimes, it’s vital that you just “do it scared”, butterflies and all. Do your homework, break it down, but then know at some point you just gotta dive in– overwhelm or no overwhelm. Action almost always cures fear.
That being said, breaking it into these simple steps WILL make it easier because you’ll get a little dopamine hit from your brain every time you accomplish one of the mini-steps and that makes you much more motivated to tackle the next one.
The Comparison Trap
When it comes to the feeling of being overwhelmed with a homestead, one of the biggest contributing factors to that is often comparison. When I personally start to feel like I’m not making progress fast enough or there’s too many things swirling in my head, I can usually trace the feeling back to me spending too much time watching what other people are doing. Comparison truly is the thief of joy and if you find yourself struggling with this, I recommend taking a little break from social media (or wherever you’re finding those feelings of comparison creeping in), so you can focus on your own projects and progress.
Alrighty friends– your turn! How do you deal with overwhelm as a homesteader? Any tricks to share?
Listen to the Old Fashioned On Purpose podcast episode #19 on this topic HERE.
And don’t forget: if you want HELP in getting inspired to TAKE ACTION on your homestead and homestead goals, check out my Project Homestead mentorship.
Katie W says
I’m new to your blog, but I’m really loving it! My husband and I are working on our plan to buy land (at least 10 acres) and build a house (ourselves ?) in the next few years. I’m not sure we’ll ever raise animals or run a full-time homestead (his passion is being a firefighter/paramedic) but there’s certainly lots of things we’d like to be able to do! With our brood of children running around in the midst of it! We have a 3 year old boy, 1.5 year old girl, and our third (another girl) is due in May. We want to quickly have one more after this and be done haha. Anyway, I’ve loved searching back through your posts! I’m a detail and information collector and I love planning. So even though it’s a few years off, my wheels are already spinning ?
Katie W says
I’m seeing question marks where I had emojis, so just go ahead an ignore those if you see them too 😉
Laurie J Cooper says
This is exactly what I needed! I have a 5 year plan and chickens is this year. So, I was freaking out a little bit about what to do first. Now, I have a vision! My little 1.5 acres of prairie grass in Colorado will one day be a working homestead! We bought our little place in 2015 and have been working on the house (it was trashed). We just completed a gut and remodel of the kitchen, so I am now ready to get the gardens and chickens going. Thank you Jill, I love your blog and vlogs!
Telegram Apk says
I love your post thank you for sharing
Hi Jill. Thanks for the post! I am an aspiring “highly productive individual” so I get overwhelmed all the time! Your tips are perfect. I especially like the last one – avoid the comparison trap. I started my own blog about life on a farm just two months ago and realize that I have A LOT to learn. You have a lot of great information on your site and have been a great resource to me as I start this journey. We are trying to preserve the family farm and keep that farming heritage alive for the next generation. We’re starting with chickens this spring and although it is scary sometimes, it’s always worth it in the end.
Keep up the good work!
I love watching your videos and reading your posts. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. It helps!
Larina Harris says
I used to be so sure if myself. Now I struggle with anxiety over the learning curve of homesteading. I basically do what you said and the anxiety is replaced by pride a few days after I actually start building. Until then I remind myself how you eat an elephant. One bite at a time.
Btw you write very well. I truly enjoy your posts. ?
Pam the Goatherd says
I’m definitely a list maker. I’ve got a stack of lists on my desk – lists of things that I need to do today and this week; things that I want to get done this season; things that I want to get done this year; and dreams of things that I’d like to have someday. I love checking things off the lists.
The biggest help for me, for planning the garden, is using graph paper to get an accurate idea of the spacing of plants and how much I can fit in the plot.
Sara Gallegos says
Graph paper!! Ahhh – what a great idea! Thanks for the tip ?
Really good information! We are another set of list makers. Lists everywhere. The biggest being a entire wall in our house. Painted it in chalkboard paint the first week we bought the new place. The list has changed over the years but we still use it. Great to see what you need to do , and so satisfying to cross stuff off!
Nina Lazzeroni says
Great post! My husband and I bought 11/2 acres with a fixer-upper house, a barn, several outbuildings and a TON of garbage everywhere, almost 3 years ago. We spent 2 years rebuilding the house and cleaning up the garbage and we moved in this past March! I want things to go faster but I was feeling overwhelmed – like you said, too many things jumbled in my head and not knowing what to do next. I did a similar thing as you but I organized my list into “To Do Soon”, “To Do After the Land is graded/leveled” (we have a lot of low/wet spots making them unusable), “This Winter/Spring”, “For Chickens in Spring”, “Next Summer” and “Down The Road”. And I’ve given myself permission to not to get to the “Down the Road” list for several years – or maybe never! It has really helped! I’ve started vermicomposting, I already cook almost everything from scratch anyway, but I’m expanding into bread, pasta, pastries and making my laundry soap and cleaning products. I am able to take one or 2 things from the list and do it! I’m accomplishing so much more, even while still working on building the back porch, cleaning out brush/garbage/stuff – the ongoing things for the house/property. Even with the pandemic, my stress level is much lower and I feel like I am accomplishing worthwhile things for my family!