If you’re a farmer, you live with risks that range from weather to injury to financial ruin. But why should you bust your hump from dusk till dawn with stress and risk for less than you’d get pumping gas or working construction?
The answer to that question is found in time. Let me explain.
When you think of it, time is all we really have. We’re born. We’re here for a while. One day our time is up. As life is precious, so is time. We all have aspirations, family, projects and dreams. But it’s challenging to find the time for it all.
This is as true for me as it is for you. My background is in business and IT, but I know farm life too. I grew up on a hobby farm in Canada and in 2012 I was Bill Mollison’s farm manager in Tasmania. For the past 1.5 years I have put virtually all my time and energy into developing Farmwell. It’s web software for farmers who want a simple way to get more customers with less work. There’s a waiting list of farmers keen to start using it. These farmers have made it clear that they respect the value of their time and want to invest it wisely.
How much is your time worth?
Before we dive into all the ins and outs of running a successful farming business over the next weeks and months in this Start Growing! series, you have you ask yourself: “What’s my time worth?” Put a number on it. This number essentially reflects your own perception of self-worth. You might want to think twice if it’s not at least 50-100% more than what you’d get working for someone else.
Good. You now know what your time is worth. The rest is easy.
(If you haven’t decided on a figure yet, close your eyes for 30 seconds, factor in any intangibles and pick a number that feels right. Then keep reading.)
Only do work that pays
One of the secrets to a successful farming business is only doing work that pays. This means not wasting your precious time on ventures that don’t pay your minimum salary — on ventures that are not sustainable. More often than not a farm’s cash-cow isn’t producing surpluses for the farmer, it’s spent propping up other parts of the business that aren’t pulling their own weight. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try new things or be charitable. Just be quick to pull the plug on a project when it’s clear that it can’t stand on its own two legs.
Knowing and respecting the value of time ensures we put our efforts to best use.
Work or relax, but not at the same time
Another way to look at this is to make a clear distinction between work and rest. Either you are busy working and getting stuff done, or relaxing. If you try to do both at the same time, you will do neither. When you’re working, focus on the task at hand. When you’re with your family, be present and keep work out of it. We kid ourselves with our ability to multi-task. You know those people on their mobile phones who bump into you on the street, or that rude person texting when you’re trying to have a conversation with them. Do one thing fully, then move to the next.
When we value our time, we notice that some activities are neither productive nor relaxing. These are the distractions, the sidetracks, the time bombs. If a task is not either relaxing or getting stuff done, then axe it. Some of the biggest culprits are television, surfing the internet, and busywork. If you’re responsible for paying your own wage, these can be a killer. “Research” is too often an excuse of procrastination.
Workaholics are not heroes
If you’re like me, you are productive in short bursts. Maybe you’re a morning person or maybe you get most done in the last 2 hours before sunset? Whoever you are, if you understand that 80% of work gets done in 20% of your time, you will find that you get lots done and have time to spare.
Workaholics are not heroes. The real hero is the person who finds a way to get the important stuff done at a decent hour and has the evening free to take it easy. But to do this, you must find and use your most productive hours of the day for the most important work and leave the easy tasks for slow periods.
I’ve learned this the hard way, but today it’s still early and I’ve already hammered out the 793 words you’ve read so far. My internet is off because I can’t risk my peak productive hours. Nope, I’ll finish this so I can get it to you before the weekend and then continue improving Farmwell. I should be able to get everything done and still hit the Farmers’ Market.
If you’re still reading, you certainly understand this. You’ve taken the time to start making good use of your most precious resource. Fantastic! The time has come for farmers to grab the bull by the horns and show the world what a noble and rewarding profession farming can be.
Over the coming weeks and months, imagine how your life will be different when you can afford to pay yourself the white-collar salary you deserve and you have time working for you, not against you. As you do this, know that I’ll be working away to help you Start Growing! There’s still so much we have to cover. So lets get cracking!