Poor work/ life balance?
38% of UK farmers that attended my recent webinar on lean for dairy farming, said that their biggest challenge at the moment is time/ work life balance. Farmers that I have worked with in New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and other countries also share this challenge. Is this you too? If yes, why can’t we make farming the “lifestyle” we actually want by working smarter not harder and getting our time back. Lean management is used by hundreds of thousands of people and businesses including farms around the world to do just that!
Reduce hours using lean
When I first came to the farm several years ago, one of the first things that struck me was the work hours. People kept telling me about farming and the wonderful “lifestyle” but reality was working 7 days a week, sometimes 16 or 18 hour days and not having much time at all to actually enjoy the “lifestyle”. This became one of our key focus areas on our farm for improvement. Reducing time for everyone is one of our key priorities on our farm and lean is making a big difference in getting us to our goals. We don’t want us or our team feeling overburdened just because they are farming. We should be able to get great results, working realistic hours, 5 days a week. If your farm needs you to work 22 days on 2 days off, or 6 days on with 1 day off or 12 days on with 2 days off, then this is simply not a sustainable farm. Not only is this unhealthy for you and your team (if you have one) both mentally and physically, but how are we going to attract the next generation of farmers if our kids and young people see us working 12-16 hour days, having no weekends, not being able to take a holiday and being continuously tired, frustrated and stressed. It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun does it?
But we can do something about this. By creating systems and better organisation and planning for ourselves, we can spend less time doing non value added things (and there a plenty of these on farm), we can reduce the time it takes us do certain jobs (why take 5 hours to do something, when you can do it in 2 hours with better results simply by working differently?), we can be better prepared and organised for jobs hence more efficient and taking less time, we can prioritise better and focus on what matters instead of getting distracted with other things. Lean management is a system and philosophy for working and running your farm (even your household and personal life can benefit!!) that will help you to get your time back.
Help is here
If you don’t know where to start, get my book The Lean Dairy Farm, check out my website www.leanfarm.nz to view webinars, templates and free 2 minute on farm videos and blogs. Anyone can start to use the lean tools and thinking to help them achieve what they want – you just need to learn to challenge the status quo, let go of preconceived ideas, and be committed and disciplined to make change and sustain it.