Dick was stuck. Not literally, but mentally stuck on how to manage his sprawling row crop and livestock operation.
Things have changed, the farm has changed, and Dick’s farm needed to change but he wasn’t sure how to make that happen. He was mentally stuck in the old ways of doing things. He knew he needed to change but what needed changing? How was he going to change?
The problem wasn’t that Dick doesn’t know how to run the farm operations. He does, and he is the envy of his neighbors. What he struggles with is his desire to professionalize his farm by leading it instead of reacting to it. This reactive whirlwind, while important in the moment, was also taking time away to work ON his business and lead the farm.
Dick’s answer was to create a weekly VIP Focus Meeting of One. But first, he needed to find the time. Like most farmers, Dick already spends most of his waking hours at the farm. There simply wasn’t any extra time, and he needed to create time by focusing on what is really important. How?
- Create the List: He first he made a list of all the things that he was doing. Family, marketing, data entry, washing hog barns, visiting contract growers, finance, etc. Every item regardless of how small went on the list, and it was long. It was too long to get everything done. Sound familiar?
- Instead of a to-do list he created a Stop Doing List. He took everything from the first list and prioritized it based on how important it was to his current role as owner and CEO. It was hard to let go of some old tasks that at one time seemed important. But he looked at the list based on his role on the farm, he knew someone else should be doing them.
- Delegate or outsource: The stop doing list was then delegated to others on the team or outsourced off the farm. It was hard to let go of some of the tasks because they were fun and familiar, but he knew it was for the best.
- Create new time habits: By now Dick had created some extra time so he could work on his business. Dick figured he needed just 39 minutes each week with no distractions, no cell phones, no meetings, no nothing, so he could deeply focus ON his business. This time was set aside and it was sacred. It occurred at the same time and location each week, regardless of the season or production. Why? Since Dick needed more time he needed different time habits. This new habit of setting aside time greatly increased his ability to conquer his goals.
- Goals: The next thing Dick did was focus on his many goals. He made his goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant to the success of the farm, and Time-specific. These goals helped him focus on what he needed to do.
- Shrink the change: Instead of taking on the entire goal at once he broke each down into easily digestible bites that he could accomplish in his weekly VIP meeting. Since he only had 39 minutes he needed to have small bites.
- Track the Progress: Finally, Dick tracked his progress towards each goal with a timeline and note history so he knew whether he was on track or not. He also told his partners of his goals so he would be accountable to them.
In my recent blog we discussed the 4 Signs of a Healthy Farm. One sign is a strong vision and strategic plan. Dick also knows that in order to be both healthy plus smart he needs to create a solid vision for his farm that is followed by all. It’s his number one goal and it will take time to flesh out. Now he has the extra time, the focused time, which allows him to set the vision while still dealing with the whirlwind of day to day activities.
We are starting a new growing season and it will be easy to lose sight of your long-term goals. Don’t let the whirlwind of the daily hustle keep you from those things that are the most important to the long-term success of your farm. Create the time and then focus on those things that let you regain the traction you once had.