Life on a homestead is a blessing, but if the ever-growing list of chores you need to do grows out of control, it becomes a major source of stress.
Many homesteaders become overwhelmed as the jobs list grows. It’s a weight on your shoulders and life on the homestead becomes unenjoyable. You sit and worry over things you’re not getting done.
To be successful on your homestead, you have to learn to prioritize.
Take it from someone who has been there. If you prioritize well, you can complete your jobs and maybe have time left over for relaxation. Let’s explore time management on the homestead.
Group Your Chores
You must figure out what needs to be completed now, and what can wait. The most simple way to prioritize your jobs is to consider when they need to be completed and the consequence of not completing them. Break the jobs into manageable groups.
Break your list into the following categories:
Decide what homestead chores need to be completed daily. These are the most important, but can also be the fastest to get done. If you don’t do them daily as you should, they will build up the quickest because there is little room to maneuver when they don’t get done.
They literally need to be completed daily.
This list may include such things as:
- Feed animals.
- Clean animal feed stations.
- Dead-head plants.
- Move stock.
- Order product or supplies.
- Water plants.
- Secure animals in the evening.
- Water animals.
- Harvest fruit and vegetables to avoid wastage.
- Move a chicken tractor
Daily tasks are those jobs that must be done regularly and would negatively affect the running of the homestead, animal welfare, or profit if not completed. Prioritize daily jobs to ensure your day on the homestead runs smoothly.
These are the tasks that you have a little more scope to delay for a day or two, as long as you get them done within the week. Just make sure any animals don’t suffer if you delay the completion of the job.
Some of your weekly tasks may include:
- Mow or clear grassy areas.
- Clean animal housing and refill bedding areas.
- Move stock.
- Check pipes and fittings to water troughs and tanks.
- Harvest crops in your vegetable garden.
- Check the quality and health of goods in your cool storage area.
Use your monthly checklist to ensure your daily and weekly homestead chores are complete. There’s no point in starting larger, fresh jobs if you are behind with the smaller ones.
Monthly tasks are often just continuations of daily and weekly tasks. An example would be the weekly task of cleaning animal housing to the monthly task of drenching or treating those animals.
Monthly tasks may include:
- Check and repair fences and gates.
- Treat animal water supplies.
- Check the home water supply (if not on municipal water).
- Check solar panels (if you have them).
- Feed gardens and orchards.
- Remove noxious weeds.
- Maintain stock feeds and supplies
- Maintain and repair tracks and paths around the property.
- Plan days off for you, or actually take a day off.
Of course, all homesteads and specific tasks are different, but what’s important is maintaining daily, weekly, and monthly lists.
You can see that if someone starts randomly mixing tasks, or has no structure to their list, the sheer amount of things to do becomes overwhelming. Things don’t get done, or they don’t get done properly. This makes the job even bigger because you have to do more in less time.
List Your Seasonal Tasks
We also have seasonal homestead chores to ensure the efficient running of the homestead. Seasonal tasks are especially important if you live in an area where there are changing or extreme weather conditions depending on what season you are in.
Seasonal tasks are also important because completing certain jobs at the right time of the year sets you up for food production and animal rearing for the rest of the year. It also means you can prioritize some leisure time, as well.
To me, spring is the most important time of the year on the homestead. New growth in plants and animals starts the food production cycle all over again.
Spring sets the scene for the year and the tasks are plentiful. Homestead chores include:
- Ensure your chicken, duck, etc. numbers are sufficient for your requirements.
- Open up animal housing and let fresh, cleansing sunshine in.
- Harvest and remove winter plants as they die off.
- Plant crops.
- Check and order animal health supplies for the upcoming births.
- Clean and sharpen tools and service motors.
- Clean and prep planting supplies.
Summer is the survival season. Making sure all the animals are safe from the heat and sunshine is paramount. Protecting crops from sun damage and ensuring they receive water is also an important task.
- Check and maintain water irrigation systems. Any drop in available water for plants and animals can be catastrophic.
- Check for and mitigate fire danger.
- Apply shading material where needed.
- Treat animals and plants for summer pests and diseases.
- Paint those areas that need it.
Winter is on the way, but fall is the season to catch up on spring and summer homestead chores as well. It’s also the time that you prepare things in advance so that you can slow down during the cooler months.
- Keep the food production and preservation going for as long as possible.
- Save seeds for next year.
- Check and repair animal housing and shelter.
- Prepare fireplaces or other heating sources.
- Stack firewood close to the house.
- Check cool storage food and supplies.
- Winterize tools.
Winter will see the chores slow a bit, but on the homestead, there is always something to do.
- Move stock to winter areas and quarters.
- Prepare paths and driveways.
- Winter prune
- Clear gardens and orchards
- Protect beehives.
- Check and maintain emergency supplies.
Annual Tasks on the Homestead
Not to be forgotten are the yearly tasks that are easily put off. You need to choose when to complete them. Some can be done in the slower winter months when you are inside, while others have to be done before the homestead warms for the spring and summer seasons.
- Brainstorm and plan for food production, new money-making schemes, and upgrades to work towards.
- Set budgets and finances for the year.
- Service equipment and vehicles where necessary.
- Clean out food storage areas.
- Ensure silos are safe and storage areas are adequate for the next year’s plans.
- Make sure fences and gates are fit for purpose.
- Look ahead for the jobs coming up and make sure your tools are in good condition.
- Use a wall planner for the upcoming season, month, or year.
Now Set Your Priorities
Look at the above list and determine what the most important chores are when it comes to safety. While daily chores take up a lot of time, a few tasks only need tending to once or twice a year, but they’re vital to the safety of your homestead.
For instance, preventing fires should be high at the top of the list, particularly during fire season.
Chores that keep the humans on your homestead safe and cared for should be number one. We love our animals, but unless it’s an emergency, they can wait. Once the people are taken care of, you can focus on the animals.
Of course, if you’re in the middle of repairing your roof and a lamb gets caught in a fence, shift your priorities and take care of the emergency first!
Finally, you can put those tasks that are nice but not essential toward the bottom of the list.
The easiest thing to do is go down the list and assign each task a number. The most important things get a one, the least important things a five, etc. Then, each day, look at your number one priorities.
Do those daily number one tasks first, then move to the weekly number one tasks, and so on. Once those are taken care of, move to the second priority on each list.
Using this method, you can take the guesswork and stress out of figuring out what needs to be done.
Mistakes You May Make When Prioritizing Jobs on the Homestead
You will always make mistakes when prioritizing your homestead chores, but don’t let that deter you. Here are some common prioritizing mistakes so you won’t make them too.
- Prioritizing too many jobs: If you have too many jobs to do, you won’t get anything started.
- Not allowing enough time: Not only must you prioritize, but you also have to be realistic about the time it will take to complete the task.
- Starting the day late: The later you start, the less time you have for other jobs. Make the most of the day and start working as early as possible.
- Be realistic about your abilities: Work to your strengths, not to timetables. If you prioritize building a barn. but have never done anything like that before, you will fail. Break it down into smaller tasks.
- Not being open to new ways of doing things: Doing things a certain way because it’s the way it’s always being done is inefficient. Prioritizing helps you cut back on methods that need renewing.
Prioritizing jobs on the homestead is a necessity. Failing to do so will see you fall so far behind that you start to feel as though you might as well do nothing.
Homesteading is a transition for many people who have never lived like that before, and failing to prioritize and get jobs done makes for stressful times. It makes you more likely to leave and go back to suburbia.
Plan and enjoy your time on the land, and don’t forget to sleep.
Tips to Prioritize Jobs Successfully on the Homestead
- Be flexible: I’ve lost track of the number of times I have started a job and had to stop and start another. That’s often how it is on a homestead, so don’t let it stress you out.
- Ask for help: You don’t have to struggle alone. One great thing about homesteaders is they love to help and teach others. Ask for help and repay the favor when you can.
- Realize you can’t do it all: Regardless of how much you prioritize, you will end up getting overwhelmed at some point. That is natural and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.
- Don’t do too many things at once: This is especially true if you’re new to homesteading. Pick your jobs and spread your ideas out over manageable time periods.
- Know the limitations of your land: Make sure you only plan for and implement ideas that are sustainable on your land. There’s no use planning for something that is too big for you and your property can’t sustain or support the size of it.