[Farm Wife Friday] Let’s talk about Organizing

Wow, ladies! I’m thrilled with the ideas, questions, comments, and encouragement you all left on my last post. Here we are almost through the winter season and spring is around the corner.

I hope that you had a little time to break the cycle of craziness for a bit. I did!

I had a very much needed winter break and although I’m not completely energized, I’m ready for the new season.

First off, I want to hit on a couple of comments:

Annie writes: “My husband and I have a rule – we make NO future farming decisions in October and November. We are just too tired and worn out from the summer season to think clearly.”

Fantastic IDEA!! I have already implemented that! I absolutely refused to look at last year and rearrange anything until I had some time to rest and think clearly. We all know that decisions made under duress are not always the best. So for me, instead of saying “NO” to everything for upcoming farming season, I made a list of “why”. Why was it so stressful to pull off that big event? Was it lack of help? Timing? Personal reasons? What?

indexBee writes: “Ladies, as someone on the other end of the continuum (retired registered nurse and freelance writer on a 185-acre northern California ranch where we raise grass-fed beef, lamb and pork; 66-year-old mother of one, grandmother of three; ranch wife for most of my adult life; hubby had three back surgeries and is very limited in what he can do), may I offer both some perspective and suggestions?

  1. You never get it all done. The last time my to-do list was current was before my 36-year-old daughter was born! At one time I was the only adult in the household for six months at a stretch because my husband worked at the South Pole half the year. We had a stallion, our own mare and 24 leased mares (hubby was gone during breeding season, so I did all the breeding), I was working full-time in nursing and my daughter was six years old. We also had pigs and chickens and a big garden plus fruit trees.That was the year the well pump went out and both vehicles died at the same time.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up when you can’t get caught up, because you never get it all done.
  3. Operate on the principle that what’s alive takes precedence over what’s not alive. That means people, animals and the garden take precedence over housework. Name the spiders on the cobwebs in the corners and rejoice that they’re helping keep down the house mosquito population!
  4. You come first. I know, we’re indoctrinated to think everybody else comes first. Thing is, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of anybody else.
  5. One of the most important things you can do is make sure you get enough sleep. It’s tempting to think we can get more done by going short on shuteye, but the reality is what you do is short-circuit your brain’s ability to function and your overall health.
  6. Set your own goals and ignore what anyone else says you “should” be doing. This is a toughie, because we want to be liked and approved, but we wind up contorting ourselves into pretzels to meet other people’s expectations. If someone criticizes, smile and say, “Thank you for sharing your perspective.” Then go do it your way.
  7. You can have it all — but you can’t have it all at the same time. When the kids are little, something has to give (In my case, that was usually housework). Despite the happy-face articles and downright lies you read in the media, it’s very, very rare for a woman to be able to have a great marriage, high-powered career/perfect farm, spotless house and polite, obedient, high-achieving kids.
  8. Perfectionism has made more women suicidal than anything except the male of the species. “Good enough” almost always really is just that; there’s plenty of tolerance in the natural system.
  9. Never stop looking for ways to make your life easier (I’m fond of saying that I’m efficient because I’m lazy). For example, your garden will do just fine if you don’t double dig. You don’t have to to turn a compost pile, compost will make itself — just takes a little longer. You can milk a cow once a day; the extra production is actually mostly water. Some years back, I read a little book called “Speed Cleaning,” which gave me a system that allowed me to clean a two-bedroom ranch house in one hour of concentrated effort each week.
  10. Yes, I know it screws up your schedule, but take time to smell the roses, savor the flavors, laugh at the antics of baby pigs and lambs, and teach the kids about life — that’s the important stuff. “

Gracious, Bee, I think you should be writing this post! So much wisdom to glean here. I hope you all don’t mind that I just copied her entire comment. I think we could all use the encouragement and instruction here.

And Janelle writes: “Try “Fly lady” for life/household organization. If you need serious all encompassing organization, then look at “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. You could also blend the two. Keep living the dream…”

FlyLady – Yes! I love her!

Getting Things Done by David Allen – Thank you for the tip! I’m in the process of reading this book right now. If any of you are interested in joining me, perhaps we could do a little discussion on it.  Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments below.

getting things done

So there are lots of great tools out there for organizing. And because we are all different in our personalities, each of us is going to have our own style.

no mailI recently started using Google Inbox for my emails. Love it! I never realized how awesome it is to have an empty email inbox, especially since this is my first responsibility for our farm – customer emails. My favorite part is that I can delay emails to the day that I need them again. For instance, a customer emailed last week asking for chicken heads. This is a special order and we won’t have any of them until we start processing again in May. I emailed her back and told her yes, then set the email to come back to my inbox the day before we start processing chickens. It will serve as a reminder of who, what and where.

Another program that I recently started using is KanBanFlow. It’s basically an online project management tool. It’s pretty technical, but I’m somewhat tech saavy and I love it. I like being able to group projects together. I actually use it a little for house cleaning too. Does this make me a nerd? It has a set timer thing for 25 minutes. You click on it and go to work, focusing on that particular project. Once the timer goes off or you finish, it automatically goes into a 5 minute break. Then you choose another project for 25 minutes or focus again or whatever.

I bought a calendar. Actually, it’s more of a planner. It has lots of space to write in all kinds of things for each day, week and month. It was the most helpful thing I’ve ever had for our Intern Check out Week.

intern check out week

Flylady – let me just mention this. I do not have enough of a daily schedule to use her routinely. However, I do frequently use her to get back on track after coming off a particularly busy season or to gear up in getting ready for something big. Ideally, I’d use her EVERY DAY. I’d like to work toward being that disciplined.

Last week I watched a podcast from Learn/Do/Become called “Four Unbelievably Easy Steps to Double your Productivity.” It was awesome! I don’t have the money to buy their organizational program, but I learned some things in the free podcast that I found really helpful. I’ve already started implementing them. Most especially their rule to only have 7-8 projects per month, which goes right back to Bee’s comment:

“You can have it all — but you can’t have it all at the same time”

Another thing that I keep recalling actually came from a quilt book of all places. The tip was from Camille Roskelley’s pattern book called Simplify.

The tip that stood out most to me:

“Limit your to-do list to three larger tasks per day. If you accomplish more than this, you will be overachieving, rather than falling short!”

What a happy thought! 🙂

Okay, enough of my rambling, I want to hear from you.

What things or ideas do you use to organize your life?

Happy Friday!

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About Sheri Salatin

Sheri is married to Daniel Salatin. She is the marketing director at Polyface Farm and stay-at-home mom of three children. Sheri is passionate about clean food and is enjoying working the land along side her husband. When not farming, Sheri can be found reading, writing, sewing, baking and serving in her church family.
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5 Responses to [Farm Wife Friday] Let’s talk about Organizing

  1. Helen says:

    This is awesome!! Thank you for all the tips. I am passing this on to other people, that could use the help. One of the things that helps me out is actually finishing a project on the same day. Try to stay focused and not get pulled in every other direction, until it is done. This means not making the project a super involved thing to do for one day. Keep it simple and get a win for the day.

  2. Dani says:

    It’s funny how thing show up at the right time. I’ve been struggling for a week or two now to get motivated for the season and this has done the trick, so thank you! I use three printed charts(1-housework,2-farmwork,3-meal plan) and a day planner to organize my time. The charts are printed out and filled in a week at a time for tasks that need done on certain days that week. The day planner is used for everything else(appointments, daily tasks reminders, notes, deliverys, ect) the charts are placed on a white board in the kitchen (hub of the house) and the day planner has a place on the counter where it is open for reveiw. I’m sure I could do this all on a computer or phone, but for me being able to glance at or add something quickly as I walk past is very important for remembering things and not getting side tracked. It is also very helpful in keeping my husband updated on what’s going on where and how he can help. Thank you for the wonderful reads:)

  3. farmmom says:

    Sherri-This is a great post and Bee’s #8 is spot on! One thing my husband and I remember hearing Joel Salatin say years and years ago is “Close enough is perfect”. With 8 kids and all the animals we have come to live by those words. Can’t wait to hear about all the exciting things happening at Polyface this summer. I always look forward your posts.

  4. Roxanne says:

    This and your last post brought tears to my eyes! It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and lonely in between it all. It’s a comfort to know that there are so many other farm wives and mothers holding down the farm out there! I carry a notepad and pen with me when doing outdoor chores, cause there is always something that I totally forgot to put on the calendar, and this way, as long as it’s on paper, I won’t stay up at night trying to remember what I forgot. Thanks so much for starting these post.

  5. Bee says:

    Sheri, thank you for your kind words. I remember so well what it was like to be a ranch wife in the days before email and online support groups like this — darned lonely — and I applaud you getting this going.
    I have four major organizational tools: a master list, a daily list, a calendar (electronic now, but a paper one works too and has the advantage of being right in front of you most of the time) and a daily journal. The master list, as the name implies, has everything on that that might need to be done, even if it’s a month or more in the future. The daily list contains the “gotta get it done today” stuff — although it does sometimes bleed over into tomorrow — as well as one or two projects from the master list that have come due because of the season, budget or other factors. The calendar is for appointments; even those big wall calendars don’t really have room for notes, which leads to the daily journal. That’s where I track weather and rainfall and temperatures, how many eggs or gallons of milk, what I planted or harvested and other important details like when the rental bull arrived for his seasonal duties. I also make notes about interesting things like when I saw the first Indian Paintbrush or the day the swallows showed up in the spring.
    On list making, I can’t remember where I read it, but an adult child asked her mother why her to-do list always had everything crossed off when Dad’s always had some items undone. Mom said, “Well, dear, I have a little system; I only put things on the list after I finish them…”