When you live on a homestead and have a full schedule to run, especially a seasonal schedule or one where there are animals involved, time management is one of your best friends. It is especially important if you are still working full-time offsite, or even now due to covid, working from home where you may have meetings or other appointments scheduled throughout the day.
Being mindful of running a successful homestead and also not burning out in the process is fundamental. Working a homestead is a full time job itself, and unless you’re producing on that property, maybe also unpaid. So you need to make sure you have some good planning in place to ensure you achieve each objective or project you set.
This post is going to look at some of my time management and scheduling tips for being a busy human and busy homesteader. I’ll walk you through my weekly and daily schedule. I
1. Use Your Resources Wisely
Hopefully, you’re at the stage of producing at least your fruit and veg, or some of your meat or if not, found a local farmer or farm co-op where you can get involved in bartering or supporting local growers. Either way, it is important to use what you have grown and raised or can obtain locally and cheaply to the best of your ability. I hope to do a whole series on grocery stockpiling and how to plan for at least a years worth of food and other goods needed – and this is what using resources amounts to.
If you’re growing a bunch of fruit and veg and can’t use it all, learn how to store it. There’s heaps of different ways, including canning, dehydrating or freeze drying, to name a few. If you have the space to at least start pasture raising your own meat hens, then the turn around time is much quicker than the bigger animals, less costly, and they take up much less physical space outside. Make sure you use the space you have, the skills you’ve obtained, and are minimising the need to make wasted trips into town to purchase things that you could’ve planned for.
2. Adjust When Necessary
The reason I bring it up is because my daily and weekly schedule changes based upon the seasons. Right now it’s the beginning of September and the start of the wet season. With La Nina forecast again this year, this means a good 6 months of rain, hail, flash flooding, excess water, and humidity and mud. The garden has been planted for the most part – that which hasn’t failed as I planted it in the wrong time or wrong medium. I will still have some succession planting and of course spring into summer crops, but for the most part, the main vegetable garden has been planted. Now it’s just maintenance and weeding, checking for disease and then harvesting. I know we are moving into the busy harvest season which, for me, means a big preserving season.
You have to, especially with homesteading, adapt and adjust and change schedules based on the seasons. Sometimes it’s the literal seasons, like the harvest season coming up. Other times its different seasons in life. I’ll share with you what my schedule looks like right now, but know that it has changed from season to season and yours will accordingly too.
I just want to add that I also don’t have children, so my time scheduling and management is around different work types and styles. I run a small soap business, a homesteading blog, I’m starting a new mentoring and coaching business and I still work full time, mostly from home other than one day I have to go into an office. So I am incredibly busy and need to switch and change as priorities adjust.
There really is no such thing as finding the perfect balance between all the things in your life. I don’t think you can do all of your things in all the areas.
3. Know Your Current Priorities
I’ve never had a time where I felt I could give all of those equal attention and everything was at its best. I think it’s a bit of a fallacy. I don’t think you can. You’re going to have seasons where some things may have a higher focus and priority. Of course, good mental health and family happiness should always come first. Please don’t mistake my words there. I don’t mean those things should ever suffer and other things should come before them. What I’m saying is that I don’t think anybody can have an actual perfect balance and that we all have seasons where we’re focusing on different things.
My Current Schedule
Let me preface this by giving some history. Up until covid, I worked full-time off-site and travelled 2-3 hours per day to and from work. Now I work from home mostly, doing 3×10 hour days, and 1 day where I am half in the office and then half logged on at home. Amongst all that, I am also trying to launch 3 different companies in different phases, do all the social media management, blog post writing, photography and in the case of the soap business, make the soap! I also have a horse that needs riding and training, a garden that needs tending, dogs, hens, a husband, an inside house to keep tidy and clean and a bunch of outside projects.
Eventually, I’d like it so all my 3 things, my soap business, my coaching business and my homesteading blog start generating incomes that allows me to leave my current job. I want to expand into podcasting, offering digital courses and teaching people different aspects of homesteading, among things.
My husband still has his day job but he only needs to work two days a week – he also started a small business which is going slow due to covid and ever increasing lockdowns, but hopefully when they ease up a little things will be much more gung ho for his business.
With all that said, here is my current weekly and daily schedule.
Monday – Flexible day. I negotiated with my IRL job to drop down to 4 days, doing 10 hrs a day instead of 5 at 7.5.I do anything on this day – projects, catching up on tidying, gardening, horse riding. Anything I want. It’s my day.
Tuesday through Friday – IRL job. Usually from 0700hrs to 1700hrs. On Tuesday I travel into the office until just after lunch before heading home. On Tuesday, I do nothing else. No horse riding, gym or other training as the driving to and from, and the longer work day make me really tired.
06:30 AM – I’m usually get up about this time. It’s a lot later than I used to get up and still not optimal for my circadian rhythm. I’ve always been a bit of a night owl quite honestly. Of course, when you’re working a day job where you have to leave early, I didn’t get to be a night owl. I would have to force myself to go to bed early thereby making myself get out of bed a lot earlier. Using technology through my sleep number bed, apps on my computer and phone, I’ve been able to track when I’m at my most productive times and also my sleep habits. Based on the data from those two things, I do best if I go to bed later at night and get up after 7 in the morning. This allows my body to get the most restful deep sleep. Of course, I don’t have that control yet, but once I do leave the corporate work this will be infinitely easier.
Animals & Garden
I wanted to explain that because a lot of people assume that homesteading with animals that you have to get up with the rising of the sun, which isn’t true at all. When I get up, first thing is I go out and feed the horse and the dogs. I let the chooks out and come back later on in the morning to change water and collect eggs. Then I do a walkthrough of the garden if it’s not pouring down rain. If there’s a break in the weather I’ll do the walkthrough of the garden later in the day. When on the walkthrough I check for bugs, any new growth and pull out weeds.
When the garden is going it’s best to be out there at least once a day, even if it’s just a quick walkthrough. It’s so much easier to identify when things are starting to go south, whether that’s diseases starting to take hold. If I can catch something right away then I can jump on it. I have a lot better success at getting rid of the insects, pests, disease…whatever…before it fully takes hold. I really say that the best thing for your garden and success is you and being present in it.
Three or four mornings I’ll also do a little bit of weeding if it needs to be done during that early morning perusal. I’ll address the bugs, do a little bit of pruning on the tomatoes, and weed one row. I found by just doing a little bit like that in the morning first thing I don’t have to devote a whole few hours spree on the weekend. It’s my way of keeping on top of things.
After that, I come into the house and have my first cup of coffee for the day. If I need to log on for work, I go do that quickly first. I sit down with my coffee, read any messages or emails that have come in overnight and just have some quiet time. I often clear the dishwasher or put a fresh load in and pull out something from the freezer for dinner. I then take my coffee into the office and start working.
Begin the Workday
7:00 AM – Then I begin my workday.
Short Break & More Household Time
10-10:30 AM – I’ll eat a snack and have a second cup of coffee. I don’t really eat a huge lunch, but I’ll have something during my break time. Then the laundry that got washed in the morning will be dried, whether that’s on the line or the dryer depends on the time of year and weather. Anything that needs to be addressed for dinner prep is done at this time too. If the dishwasher is finished I unload that and put the dishes away. I also use this time to go out and check on the horse, take his rug off (If it’s cooler weather and I’ve left him in it a bit longer) and collect this bucket to make his next batch of food. I also collect eggs and change food and water for the chooks.
10:30 -12:30 PM: Work
12:30-1:00 PM: Lunch Break
1:00-3:30 PM: Work
Break Time, Check on chickens, feed horse and dogs and revisit anything left undone
3:30-4:00 PM – I go out to feed the horse and rug him if needed and put him away for the afternoon. Dogs get fed and chooks get herded into their space in preparation for night time lock-up. If I pulled out something for dinner that needs prep, I do that now. BUt usually I’ve already got a meal prepped meal out of the freezer and just need to add pasta or rice or salad to finish the dish, so meal times are very quick.
4:00 – 5:00 PM: End work day. Lock up hens.
After dinner is clean-up time, showers and preparation for the next day.
This is also the time I prep and plan my other businesses. I try and pre-load social media posts in advance at least 2 weeks at a time, and jot down ideas on blog posts I want to write. If I already have a blog post in preparation, I then look at what else needs to be done and try to finish it. I try and write and schedule as much as I can.
Weekends – I try to not do computer work very much. I usually still put in a couple of hours at least on Saturday though. I try to not do any on Sunday, but sometimes I do a little bit if I’m being honest. I also try and manage more project work on the farm and go for a horse ride.
Projects & Seasonal Activities
Weekends is when we really focus on the homestead stuff such as:
- Putting in new fences and livestock pens
- Moving livestock
- Garden time, such as putting in a new garden bed, etc.
- Preserving time, which we are starting to get into that season now. I know that I’ll be transitioning to do more of this not just on the weekends but during the week here in about mid-July, August, and into September when everything is coming on
- Any other projects we have lined up. At the moment we have finishing the garden bed extension, new paddock for the hose, new holding yard where his stable is, side fence, front fence, finish the arena, installation of round pen for lunging and ground work, planting out some shrubbery….the list goes on.
So you see, work on a homestead can quickly add up and take up a lot of your free time if you don’t have it organised as best as possible. Keeping lists is a useful way of writing down all jobs – no matter how big or small – to ensure that if something goes wrong on one day, such as change in weather for example, you can still progress some task and feel like you’ve accomplished something.
Of course with everything, I say, this all needs to be done in moderation. if you’re feeling overwhelmed, tired, exhausted etc, then make sure you listen to your body and give yourself breaks when you need to.
If you’re interested in seeing what else we do around the farm, make sure to keep reading and link in with our socials. We update regularly on the progress of our projects. You can also subscribe to our blog to make sure you get all the round-ups and updates first!