The most frequent question I am asked about gardening is about how I manage my time. So, how do I balance my time between gardening and the rest of life?
I talked about my time management tips a little over a year ago here. Over a year later, I’m writing to revisit my perspective on time management. In doing so, I reached out to one of my fellow gardeners, Tara Collins, to see how she manages her time and what advice she may be able to offer. I was surprised to find that our time management philosophies are very similar. I also asked her about social media perceptions and how she stays grounded. Tara shares advice on how she manages her time as an avid gardener, beekeeper, chicken and quail mom, career, and much more. Tara shares her experiences and lessons as an urban farmer on her Instagram. Tara also has an incredible, in depth course on raising backyard chickens called “Starting from Scratch.” Her course walks you through everything you need to know about raising baby chicks to healthy laying chickens. The course is exactly what I wish I had before I got my chickens. To enroll, send her a direct message through her Instagram page @tara.k.collins.
Time Management Methods & Tips
I have one master to do list that I add to throughout the week and then I get to work on my to do list on the weekends. In my last post, about gardening time management I shared that I only really garden on the weekends. I reserve all my gardening to-do’s for the weekend. While I love gardening and would gladly garden most days of the week, I discovered this routine through trial and error. When I garden, I really get in to a trance-like meditative state where I lose track of time. I found that if I tried to get in to big garden tasks during the week, I would wind up having more unfinished tasks than when I started. I now give myself Monday through Friday to enjoy the garden in its current state. I will stroll the garden, observe items that need to be taken care of, and add to my weekend to-do list.
Tara also utilizes a to-do list to organize her tasks: “I have one large to-do list and every day I choose 3 items to pull onto a daily task list – I use a pen and paper schedule.”
Creating a to-do list is a grounding practice. Committing the tasks you want to accomplish on paper or digitally helps to establish your own control over your gardening practice. When it comes to running a homestead – of any size – there are infinite tasks to be completed. The exercise of acknowledging the infinite tasks and then selecting the tasks you want to complete is empowering.
The exercise of acknowledging the infinite tasks and then selecting the tasks you want to complete is empowering.
Time Management Mindset
Once you establish the tasks you want to complete, committing them on paper or digitally, what happens next? Fostering a time management mindset has been critical in executing my to-do list. At the start of each week, I take my calendar planner and I fill in all of my personal and professional commitments first. I reserve the remaining time on weekends for gardening. I will block off time on my calendar specifically for gardening and completing my to-do list. Similar to a to-do list, managing your time on a calendar or planner helps to prioritize and establish your commitments. Planning your week ahead helps to gauge how much time you really have to get what you need done.
When I asked Tara about time management and what advice she had to share, her time management mindset was similar to mine: “Start with easier tasks first to gain momentum and confidence that you DO HAVE TIME. If I don’t get to something that I wanted to get to, I never make that mean anything about me (e.g., that I’m lazy, that I don’t have time, that I’m not good enough, I can never be like her, etc). We can make time for anything. Do you watch Netflix for 2 hours every night? Do you scroll social media for 2 hours each day? You’re committed to something, even if it’s watching TV. We are committed to certain things in our life and it’s about shifting that commitment to something else ( if you want to).”
Start with easier tasks first to gain momentum and confidence that you DO HAVE TIME.
Dealing with Burnout and Fatigue
So, what if I didn’t check off a few items on my garden to-do list this weekend? Who cares! I’ll move it to next weekend. The garden to-do list will never be complete and there will always be new tasks to add – that’s the beauty of gardening. You’ll never be “done” with gardening. What I love most about gardening is the continual evolution of the garden. During the course of my practice, I have also identified the aspects of gardening that are more likely to induce burnout and fatigue. For me, it’s gardening in excessive heat – after gardening in the heat, I won’t want to garden for a while after. I’ve recognized this and I allow myself a break during heat waves.
I asked Tara about how she combats burnout when it comes to gardening she said, “I don’t compare my garden to others and the things that I can’t get to I just let go and I’m okay with it. If some seasons I don’t feel like growing, I don’t and I listen to that voice inside that says skip this winter, skip this year etc.”
I don’t compare my garden to others and the things that I can’t get to I just let go and I’m okay with it.
Social Media Perception
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool that has allowed me to connect with a vast gardening community that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. I love seeing and learning from other gardeners around the world. I connected with Tara on Instagram a little over a year ago when I first got chickens. I leaned on her for advice and support when I first started raising backyard chickens.
Tara agrees that, “the most rewarding part [of social media is] connecting with other likeminded individuals and inspiring others to create something from a small space/backyard. If I can have chickens and grow food in my tiny ass backyard, so can you!”
One of the drawbacks of social media and sharing your personal endeavors is that you open yourself up to unwanted criticism and negativity. When I encounter negativity on social media I remind myself why I started sharing my gardening practice in the first place. The people who are negative and unnecessarily critical aren’t the people I’m showing up for on social media.
Tara maintains a grounded perspective: “I never let the negativity get me down or stop me from showing up. I know that it’s not about me and it’s about them and something they are projecting onto me. The good far outweighs the bad.”