Time Management on the homestead

I am routinely asked how I do everything that I do.  Well, it can be a challenge, that’s for sure!  Time management is something I find difficult.  Working full time away from the house while trying to do some homesteading fills my days and sometimes I get overwhelmed.  It is necessary that I continue to work outside the home at this time in order for us to reach our goals.  Someday I hope to be able to be at home more but until then I need to allocate my time wisely.  These are a few things I’ve found helpful in keeping my sanity and getting done what needs to be done.

  • Have realistic expectations.
    I try to be kind to myself.  I’ve come to understand that I can’t do it all and it’s OK.   There was a time not so long ago that I would beat myself up for not doing as much as I thought I should be able too.  For instance, we have a fairly large garden but there is still yard space to spare.  I had aspirations of digging up the rest to plant more food.  That would be awesome!  But, the more I thought about it the more I came to the realization that I did not have the time to take care of more garden space.  Sure, we could get everything planted but it wouldn’t be long until we were swimming in weeds.  We could potentially loose what we worked so hard for because we didn’t have the time to tend it.  And even if we did I probably would not have the time to preserve it all anyway.  It’s better to have a garden the size that John and I both can handle and have success then to become frustrated due to unrealistic expectations.
  • Create a schedule.
    In addition to working my day job and completing my homestead chores (gardening, food preservation, chicken tending, etc…) I also have the activities that come along with daily household management.  There is still house cleaning, grocery shopping, meal preparation, laundry and numerous other jobs needing attention.  I found that by making a schedule of “chores”, both homestead and daily household,  I can at least keep my head above water.  Everyone’s schedule will look different.  Mine even looks different depending on the time of year.  In general I have a list of things that need to be done each morning like make breakfast, pack lunches and wash breakfast dishes.  Each evening I know that I will be making dinner, making lunches for the next day and putting them in the fridge, cleaning the kitchen, meal prep for the next night if needed and washing a load of laundry.  I  add in time in the garden during the season and my chicken duties each night too.  I broke my house down into cleaning zones.  I work on a different zone each week and spend 15-20 minutes each night Monday-Friday, cleaning that zone.  Last week my cleaning zone was the kitchen, so I did those tasks that don’t need to be done daily like cleaning the oven or wiping down and organizing the cabinets.  I have a list of jobs to be done in each zone that I follow.  Then I add in one or two other jobs each day.  Monday night I work on making gifts for upcoming birthdays, holidays, baby showers or whatever occasion that calls for a gift.  Wednesday night is menu planning and Thursday is grocery shopping.  This might all sound complicated but once it was in place it was extremely helpful.  I used the plan over at www.flylady.com to get me started.  She’s awesome!
  • Ditch the Cable or Satellite.  TV is a huge time waster! Giving up satellite was a bit hard for us at first.  We’ve been without for a few years now.  We use a Roku to stream Netflix, Amazon, the History Channel, PBS, and many other channels.  Some are free and some are pay.   And during football season we can watch our Ravens play thanks to the digital antenna that John installed in the attic.  So we can pick up the local station and watch the games.  The one thing we got into the bad habit of doing was watching YouTube videos.  That can suck as much or even more time!  Now we try to limit our YouTube viewing to a few short videos each night.  There are some we save and watch them all at one time on the weekend.  We also watch a movie once a week, usually on Saturday night.
  • Try to create more time. 
    I know that we all have the same 24 hours in our day that we can use.  Figure in time for getting ready for work, traveling to and from work, the 8 hours spent at work, the 6-8 hours (more or less) for sleeping, that doesn’t always leave for a lot of time to do what needs to be done.  Thankfully, I have been with my employer for long enough that I get 4 weeks a year for vacation and personal/sick time. We rarely take vacation since we are trying to become debt free ASAP and then save for our place in the country.   I choose to use my vacation time at home to work on projects, work in the garden or work on food preservation. In addition, I have a half day off every week which allows me to run errands that might get otherwise delayed or neglected.  We are also grateful that John is off during the summer months.  This allows him to get his big projects completed as well as to help me.  Which brings me to my next point.
  • Understand that it takes both of you. 
    If you are married or homesteading with a friend you will not be able to get everything done if you don’t help each other.  If John did not help with the weeding and garden prep I would be so overwhelmed that gardening would not be fun.  In turn, if he is working on a project and needs an item unexpectedly, he will order it online and I will swing by and pick it up from the store on my way home.
  • Prioritize.
    This is the time of year when the garden is going gang busters, produce needs to be put up, and the fall garden needs planted.  These things take priority.  Growing and preserving our food for winter is first and foremost. When we had our fireplace and heated with wood, firewood was a priority.  So if my linen closet has to wait until fall or winter to before I can re-organize it, or the oven had to wait several days longer to be cleaned, so be it.  I can live with that.  Food and heat are priority.
  • Take a day to rest.
    I know this might sound crazy.  Here I am complaining about not having enough time and now I’m suggesting that you take a day to rest?  Yes, I am!  You can do a google search and find numerous articles advocating a day of rest.  We all need to take time to recharge each week.  God felt that it was so important that He create the Sabbath and commanded us to remember it and keep it Holy.  John and I do not do any work for money or around the house from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night.  We are working so hard all week that we so look forward to that time for resting, recharging and spending time together and with God.  In fact, I think that because we do honor this time God has created and commanded us to set aside that we are able to accomplish as much as we do every day.  Give it a try!

If you have been feeling overwhelmed I encourage you to try some of the things that helped me.  This is not an exhaustive list of time saving tips by any means but it’s a good place to start.  What time saving tips do you have that you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear them!