Summertime is truly here, as if we need the weather to tell us. Life gets warmer, but it also gets too busy. Whether you’re out in the field or going through the day-to-day in your office, there’s sure to be someone or something vying for your attention. When managing your day, prioritizing keeps everything in perspective, but not to the person or issue you’re addressing. To them, it’s the most important item in the history of items. What can you do!?
Quite simply, it’s managing your time and people who request it. I can hear it now: “Mike, time waits for no one. Besides, I don’t even have time to go to the bathroom.” Some of that might be true; however, wise folks before me have said, “Nobody is too busy, it’s just a matter of priorities.”
Time management is a universal concern. There are several behaviors that can be applied when feeling the time crunch. For instance:
1. End the multitasking.
Yes, it’s easier said than done. In doing many things, it is important to be efficient, but the shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at once. I’m a victim of this as well. There are various items I tend to each day, juggling one task to leave it for another crisis or issue or dispute. At the end of the day, I leave a trail of numerous unfinished tasks. Mental health expert Donna M. White noted, “Multitaskers often seem to think they get more accomplished, but it’s not always the most productive or efficient route. Let’s face it, our minds work better when we are truly able to focus and concentrate on one thing.”
2. Spend time on the right task.
It’s fine and dandy to do one thing at a time, but it comes down to priorities, too. As a manager, you’re not only dealing with the daily task at hand, you’re also bombarded with surprises such as a worker issue or botched delivery. That’s what you signed up for. Interruptions are just part of the game. Staffing expert Dan Fisher suggests devising a strategy for the unpredictable: “Always build time into your daily plan for the unexpected. By planning for this each day you will avoid feeling reactive,” he said. “There are always times of the year [or quarter] when the unexpected is more likely to fill your time than others. Plan accordingly.”
3. Learn from others who feel your pain.
Although the issue of managing your time and workers is commonplace, the agriculture industry provides a unique perspective on how to tackle that type of issue. There are many books that offer superior advice, such as “First Things First” by Stephen R. Covey and “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. One book I suggest is “Time Management Tips for Farmers” by Caroline Owens. Owens shared stories from members of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture about how they were able to manage their time effectively. Each story tells how each operation dealt with management problems concerning time, labor and technology, as well as advice for new farmers. It’s definitely a useful read.