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Today’s focus is on managing your time in order to get homesteading done with all of your other activities. Especially if you happen to have a day job whether that’s working from home online, commuting, or a busy housewife with kids. No matter what scenario you find yourself in these tips will help you. At least I hope they do.
I’ll walk you through my weekly and daily schedule. I’ve received many comments on this topic asking me to cover it I figured it was high time I did so.
Listen in below to the full podcast, Episode #261 3 Tips for Time Management & My Homestead Schedule, of the Pioneering Today Podcast, where we don’t just inspire you, but give you the clear steps to create the homegrown garden, pantry, kitchen, and life you want for your family and homestead.
If you’re not familiar with my newest book The Family Garden Plan let me tell you a little about it. It walks you through step by step on how to determine and grow a year’s worth of sustainable and healthy food. It’s not just about planning and growing your garden though. There are lots of charts that I personally reference myself one being the Harvest and Preserving chart. This one covers how much produce is needed to preserve the harvest. Strawberries are starting to come on and, despite having 25 one-year-old strawberry plants in my garden, I’ll be buying a couple of flats. I had to look up how many strawberries I’ll need to make preserves. In this instance, six to eight cups of fresh strawberries is going to give either one quart canned or two pints frozen.
By knowing how much you need, you’ll save yourself time in not having wasted trips to purchase or obtain the necessary products or resources.
The reason I bring it up is because my daily and weekly schedule changes based upon the seasons. Right now it’s the beginning/middle of June and we’re just moving into the busy season with the garden. The garden has been planted for the most part. I will still have some succession planting and of course fall crops, but for the most part, the main vegetable garden has been planted. Now it’s just maintenance and weeding, checking for disease and then harvesting. I know we are moving into the busy harvest season which, for me, means a big preserving season.
You have to, especially with homesteading, adapt and adjust and change schedules based on the seasons. Sometimes it’s the literal seasons, like the harvest season coming up. Other times its different seasons in life. I’ll share with you what my schedule looks like right now, but know that it has changed from season to season and yours will accordingly too.
I don’t have really young children, like infants or toddlers, at home. My kids are in their preteen and teenage years so that definitely makes things look a little different. I just want to preface with that.
There really is no such thing as finding the perfect balance between all the things in your life. I don’t think you can do all of your things in all the areas. I divide mine out into my spiritual walks (I’m a Christian) where I’m spending time in the Bible, in prayer and with the Lord, health and exercise, rest, and work/career (however you’re bringing in money). In addition to relationships with my children, my husband, friendships, family members, etc.
I’ve never had a time where I felt I could give all of those equal attention and everything was at its best. I think it’s a bit of a fallacy. I don’t think you can. You’re going to have seasons where some things may have a higher focus and priority. Of course, faith and family should always come first. Please don’t mistake my words there. I don’t mean those things should ever suffer and other things should come before them. What I’m saying is that I don’t think anybody can have an actual perfect balance and that we all have seasons where we’re focusing on different things.
Let me preface this by giving some history. Up until two and a half years ago, I commuted 18 miles one way to work in a neighboring town at a pharmacy. Now I work from home putting in at least 50 hours a week, although in the past couple months it’s been 60 hours a week. As we get into more preserving time I’ll back that down to about 40 hours a week, so it’s definitely a full-time job. I just don’t happen to have the commute. I absolutely love and adore what I get to do now with writing books, podcasting, blogging, the Pioneering Today Academy, and different digital courses, teaching people all the different aspects of homesteading and becoming more self-sufficient.
My husband still has his day job where he works at a mill sawing guitar tops. His commute is very similar to what mine used to be where it’s about 15 miles away from our home.
With all that said, here is my current weekly and daily schedule.
Monday through Friday – My kids are home, homeschooling because of the pandemic. Typically they’re in public school. We’ll make a decision closer to fall whether I’ll continue being a homeschooling mom or not. Our family hasn’t made a decision yet one way or the other.
7:00 AM – I’m usually get up about this time. It’s a lot later than I used to get up. One of the things that I have discovered is what my natural circadian rhythm is. That is when I naturally want to fall asleep when I have my energy peaks throughout the day when I really function at my best and most productive. I’ve always been a bit of a night owl quite honestly. Of course, when you have young infants or you’re working a day job where you have to leave early, I didn’t get to be a night owl. I would have to force myself to go to bed early thereby making myself get out of bed a lot earlier. Using technology through my sleep number bed, apps on my computer and phone, I’ve been able to track when I’m at my most productive times and also my sleep habits. Based on the data from those two things, I do best if I go to bed at 11 o’clock at night and get up at seven in the morning. This allows my body to get the most restful deep sleep.
I wanted to explain that because a lot of people assume that homesteading with animals that you have to get up with the rising of the sun, which isn’t true at all. When I get up, first thing is I go out and feed and water the chickens: I take the meat birds their food, the laying hens and pigs get fed and everybody gets their water checked. Then I do a walkthrough of the garden if it’s not pouring down rain. If there’s a break in the weather I’ll do the walkthrough of the garden later in the day. When on the walkthrough I do slug patrol where I handpick slugs and snails off any of my plants and put them in a small container of soapy water so that they die and stop eating my plants!
When the garden is going it’s best to be out there at least once a day, even if it’s just a quick walkthrough. It’s so much easier to identify when things are starting to go south, whether that’s diseases starting to take hold, pests like slugs and snails, or anything like that. If I can catch something right away then I can jump on it. I have a lot better success at getting rid of the insects, pests, disease…whatever…before it fully takes hold. I really say that the best thing for your garden and success is you and being present in it.
Three or four mornings I’ll also do a little bit of weeding if it needs to be done during that early morning perusal. I’ll address the bugs, do a little bit of pruning on the tomatoes, and weed one row. I found by just doing a little bit like that in the morning first thing I don’t have to devote a whole few hours spree on the weekend. It’s my way of keeping on top of things.
After that, I come into the house and have my first cup of coffee for the day. I sit down to drink my coffee while doing my Bible reading and devotional time for myself. I have found if I do not do my Bible reading and prayer time in the morning, I don’t do it later on. I may have the best intentions to do it in the afternoon or in the evening, but it just doesn’t happen. So for me, I need to do that first thing in the morning after taking care of the animals.
After that, I get the kids up then go in and get dressed for the day. I don’t usually eat breakfast. I have never really liked to have a big breakfast which I think personally for me goes hand in hand with not being a morning person. The kids will have breakfast but I don’t. My coffee is my breakfast. Then it’s on to making sure the kids are getting ready to do whatever school assignments they have for the day and making sure throughout the day that they’re working on whatever they need to be.
I’ll then put on a load of laundry in. I do about one load a day. Since we don’t have a dishwasher I’ll go through the kitchen to tidy up. Dishes actually get done after supper and is on rotation between all four of us in our family. Everybody takes a turn at dish night. But what I do in the morning is put away anything that is dry and didn’t get put away the night before. I’ll also do any dinner prep, such as get out the meat for the evening meal or getting the sourdough bread going so that it can rise all day. These tasks go pretty quickly, usually about 30 minutes max.
9:00/9:30 AM – Then I begin my workday. I’ll spend about two to three hours on a combination of things:
12/12:30 PM – I’ll eat a snack of sorts and have a second cup of coffee. I don’t really eat a huge lunch, but I’ll have something during my break time. Then the laundry that got washed in the morning will be dried, whether that’s on the line or the dryer depends on the time of year and weather. Anything that needs to be addressed for dinner prep is done at this time too.
Afternoon – This is when I do some type of filming for YouTube videos, Facebook and Instagram stories or videos, and all of my different courses inside the Pioneering Today Academy. I also have independent courses that can be purchased without being an Academy member. Some are only available with the membership right now. Those that can be purchased are:
So between all of them, I am filming almost daily, at least three days out of the week. What I’m filming is what we’re doing on our homestead, which already has to be done, and also what I’m teaching about. So I get to do the work on the homestead but I’m also documenting it. In doing so I have to make sure all the batteries are charged, get the film equipment set-up and then actually doing it. That usually takes an hour or two in the afternoon.
3:30/4 PM – I’ll check in on the kids and help them if they need it. My daughter sometimes helps me film so that’s part of her homeschooling learning to be a videographer. Also around this time, the kid’s chores get done and schoolwork gets wrapped up for the day.
Because the meat chickens are at a point that they’re starting to really go through their feed and water I’ll go out around this time to make sure their water is topped off. If there’s anything that didn’t get done that needed to be done in the garden, I’ll go back at this time and do that. Sometimes it’s pruning, sometimes it’s actually beginning to harvest things. For example, at the time of recording the podcast I needed to go out and harvest Holy Basil leaves to get those drying so that I have them for tea and tincture making later on this week or next.
Then, depending on the day, I’ll do any dinner prep that couldn’t be done earlier in the day.
4:30/5 PM – As I mentioned earlier, I am not an early morning person so I don’t work out in the morning. I’ve tried. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t work out in the morning but I do workout between five and six days a week. I do it in the late afternoon.
Even though we live on a homestead where we’re lifting 25 to 50-pound bags of feed at different time throughout the day, doing lots of bending and stooping, kneeling and squatting when in the garden, and moving stuff around it’s really not enough for me to stay in really truly tip-top physical shape. So I work out, which I now do at home. I did teach a fitness class once a week at our local fitness center before COVID as well as attended some classes there, but usually, I do the majority of my workouts at home. It wouldn’t be practical to go to the closest gym with weights and machines because it’s almost an hour away from us.
Now there have been times that I didn’t work out but I feel I need to do it. Here are the reasons I do it:
I will do alternating days. One day I will lift using the dumbells, kettlebell, or my own body weight. I don’t have a big bench system. I will do upper body one day with weights and a little bit of cardio, but mainly just weightlifting. The next day I’ll do the alternate of that doing just cardio where I get my heart rate up. I usually only workout for 30 to 40 minutes so I’m not doing extremely long workouts. I’d much rather hit it hard and get it done. For me personally because I have low thyroid and some adrenal gland issues, I can’t do all cardio for five to six days a week. It tends to be too much for me.
A typical routine for me:
Monday: Upper body with weights
Wednesday: Lower body with weights
Thursday: PIYO – I’m certified to teach this and is what I taught in the fitness classes. It’s low impact using principles from Pilates. No weights involved. It helps improve your flexibility.
Friday: All over body workout with weights, a little cardio.
Saturday: Stretching with yoga moves
Sunday: Rest day
Depending on the weather, the entire family will go for a walk while dinner is cooking. Dinner could be in the InstantPot, on the stove or in the oven, whatever. As long as it’s not something I have to stand over and be on top of, we’ll go play around with the volleyball out in the yard or go for a walk.
After dinner is clean-up time. Then we go out and take the food away from the meat birds. I explain why we do this in 10 Tips on Raising Meat Birds. We also make sure everybody is penned up safe and sound. Then we’ll watch a family show together or do a family game night. On Fridays, we do a family movie night.
Sometimes I go back and do another hour or so on the computer, although I’m trying to get better about this. Or, after everybody goes to bed, I’ll do another hour or so on the computer if I didn’t get stuff done. I’m trying not to do that though because I have found that once I get back on the computer and working, thinking I’ll only do half an hour or so, then it ends up being two to three hours. I tend to have a really strong work ethic almost to the point of my own detriment at times. Like I said, I was putting in 60 plus hours a week over the past couple of months so I’ve really had to pull back and be cognizant of how much time I’m spending. That’s why the month of June I’m not doing any video training sessions. I was doing a lot of master classes or webinars during the past couple of months. But, outside of the academy, I’m not doing any for at least the month of June. I have to assess how things are for the months of July and August.
Weekends – I try to not do computer work very much. I usually still put in a couple of hours at least on Saturday though. I try to not do any on Sunday, but sometimes I do a little bit if I’m being honest.
Weekends is when we really focus on the homestead stuff such as:
On the weekends we try to have everything wrapped up around 7 so that we have a couple of hours every night as a family. We’ll do a longer family game night, family movie nights, and if it’s really nice we’ll be outside. Just enjoying time together. We have a hot tub so we’ll spend a little bit of time in the hot tub.
Now, when it’s really hot out, July and August usually, we’ll flip things. So we’ll take the afternoon off and go on a picnic or something like that and then when it’s cooler in the evening we’ll do the preservation.
Saturday is definitely workday for getting all the chores and projects and stuff we didn’t get to during the week. It’s also when we do the deep cleaning. So cleaning the bathrooms, dusting, decluttering, etc.
Then on Sunday normally we go to church, although we’re not able to do that right now because of COVID. Sunday afternoons are when I do my batch prepping for the following week. That entails doing the majority of my bread baking for the week like sandwich bread, etc. I’ll also do something for breakfast, like chocolate sourdough bread, a sweet bread or muffins, or homemade pop tarts. Also do any lunch prep. My husband takes lunch with him to work. I don’t really prepare lunch from scratch during the workweek. Some things that I do is prepare a big salad, hard-boiled or deviled eggs. Essentially big batch cooking is done Sunday afternoon.
We try to not plan a lot for Sunday evening and we try to have an early dinner so that we can just relax a bit. Now, this may need to change because of special circumstances. For example, we recently got our pigs on a Monday afternoon which meant we needed to be sure to have the pigpen, electric fence,and everything ready for their arrival. So that Sunday before we made sure it was all ready and secure for them.
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.