How to move into off-season mode

SolStock/iStock/GettyImagesPlus Mature farmer sitting at a table in his house doing paperwork with a coffee and biscuits.
Shifting to a planning mindset now can help save time later.

By this time of year, harvest has wrapped up in most parts of the country. Fall field work is happening – or maybe it’s already done too. There’s a shift in the air as the weather changes. We’re rapidly getting closer to the winter season.

On the farm, wintertime might not mean much time in the field, but there’s still very important work going on. The shift from fall and harvest toward winter means changing up our mindset as well – so we as farm leaders can switch gears from the primarily doing mindset of harvest into the planning mindset of winter.

The switch

Sometimes it feels challenging to make this shift. All growing season – and especially during harvest – we’re on the go. As we approach winter and need to plan for our next crop year, we might feel like we should just keep doing things instead. After all, there’s always something we could be working on or doing on our farm in the winter – from working on equipment to hauling grain to cleaning the shop.

It can feel more comfortable to stay in the doing mindset when we’ve spent so much time in it for the previous months. There might even be feelings of anxiety or uncertainty around thinking about the next growing season and making plans. But this is a very important and necessary shift to make for the success of your operation.

Shift into planning

Here are a few tips to help as you shift your mindset over to 2021 planning.

  • First, reflect. After the fast pace of harvest, we might want to do one of two things: take a break completely from the farm or dive headlong into plans for 2021. I suggest doing this first: Set aside some time – maybe a day or two – where you take a bit of a break from directing operations (you can use this as an opportunity to put your future leader temporarily in charge). Do something that’s unrelated to the farm. Toward the end of that time, do some reflection on how the 2020 crop year went. What were some of the things that went really well? What didn’t go as you had hoped? What are your top goals for the 2021 crop year? What changes do you want to make to your approach?
  • Next, set your goals. To know where you need to focus, first you need to know where you want to end up. Having goals for different aspects of your farm business can be very helpful. Make sure the goals are specific and that they can be measured. Consider involving your team in the goal-setting process. Write the goals down and put them where everyone can see them – and view the progress that’s being made.
  • Finally, plan your winter. The winter “off-season” on the farm can quickly become busy if we’re not intentional about planning out our time. Carve out time specifically for planning in your schedule. Think about the key areas and key people you will need to meet with or talk to this winter to help with those plans. Planning out how you want to spend your offseason helps focus the time you have available into your top priorities.

One area you’ll want to spend some time on this winter is working on your marketing plans. Our market advisors can help with goal-setting and planning processes when you get in touch now.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 
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