Anyone else have so much they need to do but figuring out where to start is just impossible? Do you feel stuck or totally overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done? Welcome to Project Paralysis! Don’t worry, you are not alone and it is curable! I’m going to share some strategies to help you Get More Done!
Not sure if this is you? Well, keep on reading.
It is time to plant the garden, wean the goat kids, vaccinate all the critters, clean out the coop, paint the barn, plant the flower beds, replace the plants that winter killed, finish the fence project that got postponed…and that is just the beginning. It is a LONG list.
You know how it starts? You wake up one morning and realize: Today is the day! Spring is officially here! Even the calendar says so. And that means it is PROJECT TIME! Woot, Woot!
That’s okay though, because you LOVE projects! You just need to figure out where to start. Definitely the garden, you should start there first.
Hmm, but before you plant the garden you need to pull the weed cloth up, add the compost and till it in, make up the rows and get the walk paths mulched.
And before you wean the goat kids you need to move the shelter to their pen, clean and relocate the water trough and check the fence for any holes.
And before you vaccinate you should make sure you have all the medications current and ready to go and pull up the goat’s health records. Oh, and you tore down the old section of fence during a winter re-fencing project, so you need to come up with a holding pen of some sort.
Let’s not even talk about what you need to get started on the flower beds or winter kill.
Crap! You forgot the new chicks will be here next week! And their brooder box is not finished.
Ahhhhhhh! There is just so much! How do you even know where to start?! Must do all the projects! But there just aren’t enough hours in day!
Starting to sound familiar?
Do you also have that moment where the joy of project planning turns into the black hole of project overwhelm?
You have so much that needs to be done and it is all important, but you just can’t decide what needs to happen first. So, you freeze and don’t make any progress at all, because, really what’s the point if you can’t get it all done?
Or maybe you are like me and you charge forth to “Do all the projects!” So, you start all the projects and invest money and more importantly time. You create this frenzied pace of project to-do’s that isn’t sustainable; only to fizzle out halfway through. And you still get nothing done.
If any of these have happened to you, you have reached a state of Project Paralysis. You have so many things that need to be done or that you want to get done that your brain overloads and you do none of them. Or you start but never finish them.
A truth of farm life and probably life in general is that there will ALWAYS be more to do than you have time for. It can be overwhelming. And when you get overwhelmed it is so easy to fall into project paralysis.
Well, not on my watch! This time you are going to make a plan for those projects and you are going to make them happen.
Here are my suggestions to get more done and ditch project paralysis for good!
1. Make a list
Not just any list but a total brain dump of everything you want or need to do. Write down everything. Even the projects you want to do in 5 years (like replace the barn siding). Get it on paper and out of your head.
2. Prioritize the list
Decide what projects are most important to you or that need to happen now. For example – I know if I want to eat fresh veggies I need to plant the garden BEFORE I re-side the barn.
3. Make it Bite Sized
You’ve heard the saying:
“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.”Creighton Abrams
The same applies to your farm projects. Neither Rome nor the farm were built in a day. You need to look at your list and break the big jobs into smaller pieces. If you aren’t exactly sure how to do this, just think about the things that you must do before you can do the big thing on your list.
If you look at the sample spring project list above, a good example are both the garden and weaning projects. Both sound simple until you read all the things that need to happen before you ever get to planting or weaning.
The ‘before’ are mini projects and should get listed under your big project.
See how sneaky that is? You just thought you had 10 projects planned. But if you list out the before projects you suddenly realize you had 100 projects planned. Yikes!
100 projects are tough.
Now look at your project list (include the before projects) and review. Consider the time you have available to complete the individual tasks. If you have a lot of smaller tasks that only take an hour or two you can accomplish more of those than if you have large projects.
Decide what you can get done in the time you have available. For us that is usually a two-day weekend.
And Be Realistic! Don’t plan to accomplish fifteen things on the same day you have to go to the kid’s ball game and two birthday parties. Not gonna happen and you will just disappoint yourself.
Also consider your resources. If you have a large project that is going to take a lot of manpower or money that you don’t have, move it down the list and look at other projects you can complete while you save up for the big one.
And don’t even think of listing one of the big projects until all the smaller ‘before project’ tasks have been prioritized first. You can’t plant the garden, if you don’t have soil to plant it in. So don’t skip the ‘small’ tasks.
5. Make a list, Again!
I love this part! Once you know what your priorities are, you’ve broken the big projects into bite-sized pieces and you’ve decided what projects you can accomplish with the time and resources you have available; list them out.
Write them down and make a checklist of them. Or put them on a calendar on the dates you want to work on them.
Making a list helps to keep you focused on the things you have decided are important for your farm this season. You are so much less likely to get distracted by all those other squirrels, aka projects, when you have a list of the things you KNOW you want to accomplish this season.
And that list is going to give you so much more momentum. You will be amazed how much more you get done when you have an actionable plan to follow. And really, who doesn’t love the feeling of checking a completed project off the list or writing DONE across the calendar.
6. Now, Get more Done!
You have your list, now go forth and conquer those projects!
Before you go, a couple quick tips.
-Don’t set yourself up for failure. The brain dump is a great place to list all 100+ projects you want to do. And it is awesome inspiration. But do not, DO NOT, attempt all 100+ projects in one season. Not going to happen. You will go crazy. Your family will go crazy. You will probably be broke and frustrated and vow NEVER to farm again. And that is the opposite of what I want to happen. Don’t do it.
-Give yourself some grace. Things happen. Kids get sick. Work gets crazy. Margarita Monday turns into a week at the beach. (Okay so that one probably won’t happen, but a girl can dream, right?) The point is, sometimes, even with a plan and a list, you won’t get it all done. That’s okay. The goal is to get more done (not all; more) and avoid project paralysis. And whether you complete 3 projects or 30 projects you are making progress and that is what matters. Don’t beat yourself up on the missed project days. Adjust the list and schedule and keep moving.
The farm life is a busy one and if you are reading this post, you probably love it that way. But it can be overwhelming. Having a plan of action can keep you from feeling completely stuck and developing project paralysis when faced with everything you need to get done.
Even better, I’ve got some project planning cheat sheets to help you out. They are free to download, just click the image below.
But do me a favor and let me know if they helped you out and what projects you are planning to tackle this year.
New To Farming or Homesteading? Check out my post 50+ Great Books every small or beginning farmer needs!