Get tips that will help you succeed with planning projects on the homestead. How to stay on budget, set a timeline that works, and finally get everything done on your wish list this year.
Some of the best homesteading tips I learned over the years have to do with planning and I know they will help you grow your homestead going forward.
If there is one thing I have learned about having a homestead is you need a plan at all times.
I used to fly by the seat of my pants, but I soon learned while that may be okay for running a household, it did not work so much with a homestead.
When you have a homestead, it can be helpful when you learn actionable tips for planning projects on the homestead. This will help you relax, knowing everything is getting done on time and within budget.
As a homesteader, I am sure you already know that many things need to be done at certain times throughout the year. Add to that the large variety of animals that need routine attention, and you have a pretty intimidating to-do list.
Having a schedule of things that need to be done, or at the very least paid attention to, is an essential part of homesteading.
But there is more to it than that.
You also want to schedule each project, so you have the money needed and the time set aside to finish the project entirely.
I am sure, that just like me, money and time are two things you do not have a lot of.
By having a schedule of all the projects for the next handful of months, you will be able to financially prepare for those big, costly jobs without relying on credit or dipping into your savings account.
Don’t forget to grab your FREE Project Planner below!
Time can be a bit more tricky to find, but if you know in advance a big project is coming up, you can adjust your daily schedule to make room for any project.
Another plus is if you need outside help for a large project you will have time to call and ask (or even happily bribe with food and drink) your neighbors and family to lend a hand. 🙂
If you have read any of my productivity articles then you know how I like to break things down into steps. If not take a minute to jump over and read 10 Tips for being Productive. This article will give you some basic yet powerful ways to get more done in less time.
The overall goal is this. Take an overwhelming project and break it down into steps so you can eliminate the stress that these projects tend to bring.
Breaking things down and having a schedule are the keys to productivity on the homestead.
Hubby and I have found over the years that the best way to create a homesteading project schedule is to make an initial list annually that we can then scatter out over the next 12 months giving a project to each month ahead.
We then revisit this annual schedule quarterly so we can make any necessary time or money adjustments.
Starting out this way gives us a great jumping-off point for our homesteading finances.
Here’s why: knowing right away that I will need a certain amount for each month’s list of projects gives me all the information I need to create a financial game plan I can follow throughout the year.
How to Plan Projects on the Homestead
I have 12 steps that will help you to create a plan for the upcoming year that will motivate rather than overwhelm you. I made each step easy so you can go through them quickly getting you on the fast track to project planning.
By the end, you will have an actionable list that you can use as a tool throughout the entire year.
Step #1. Set aside the time
Trust me on this, scheduling out planning time is important.
You want to make sure you are both there and completely present both mentally and physically. No distractions. No temptations of work looming over your heads. Pick a day that is already less busy than others so you are not frustrated by tasks that are not getting done at the time.
Hubby and I plan on at least 1/2 a day with a nice meal after as our reward. This really ensures we are both there 100% without any outside distractions pulling our thoughts away.
I know, coming up with an afternoon just to plan out projects together seems like a lot of time wasted, but it will be totally worth it. Spending that day now will save you hours and hours of time, not to mention money in the long run.
Look at is an investment in the future of your homestead.
Another tip is to clear the house out. If you have little ones, make sure you have something for them to do. By keeping them occupied, you can put all of your attention into planning.
Step #2. Gather your supplies
You will need a couple of tablets, pens, pencils, highlighters, your calendar, your budget, and plenty of coffee (or beer if you are my Hubs).
Get your Planning Supply list here:
Get everything you need ready to go before you dive in. I have learned that even a quick trip to the kitchen to get a pen can end up in a 15-minute sidetrack that will derail your entire planning project.
Another tip is to find a place where you can spread out. A good example is the kitchen table or a desk in your home office.
Seeing everything as you go is good, so you can better map out a project plan that makes sense.
Step #3. Do a brain dump
Hubby and I love brain dumping.
Getting every little thing out of our heads and onto paper is incredibly therapeutic. When doing a brain dump, it is important to remember that the sky is the limit and no project is too small or too crazy big at this stage.
The key here is to write it all down. All of it, even if you have a project that is more of a dream than an actual goal. This step is meant to get all your ideas, improvements, repairs, expansions, everything down onto paper where you can both see it.
Call this your Homesteading Bucket List, and I want you to go crazy!
Each of you should take a tablet and pen and write. Don’t worry about repeats or any ideas you fear may be out of reach. Right now, all you want to do is give each project a voice on paper. This will help you better decide which ones will go on this year’s schedule and which will not.
Do not worry about the time needed for a project, the money, or even manpower at this point.
Step #4. Pick and choose
Once you have made your lists, take turns reading your projects out loud.
Cross off any duplicates as you find them continuing until you have one list between the two of you. Once finished, you can go back and talk a bit about each project in greater detail.
Keep in mind the following questions as you do this step.
- Which projects are just not doable at this time?
- Which projects are dreams that you can work for in the future?
- Which projects are essential and need to be completed right away?
- Which projects are big and may need extra help called in to complete?
- Which projects are quick and can be done without much effort?
As you go through your list, you can begin to eliminate anything you will not be able to get to this year. Either because of the time you have available or the money you have to spend.
Remember, work to create a list that is realistic. This means you may need to make some hard choices before you move on.
Step #5. Pick a month
Revisit your finalized list and assign a month to each project. This is the step that will help to turn this game plan into a helpful tool that will keep you on track getting more done than you ever thought possible.
We like to plan a project for each month. This is a great starting point if this is your first time doing long-term planning. This also means you will realistically be able to do 10-12 projects in a year.
If you have more than 12 projects on your “must do” list, you will need to decide on the most important ones and book those first.
Another point to remember is some projects on your list will have specific months where they must be completed while others may be a bit more flexible as to the times.
A few examples are:
- Spring – Add in a strawberry patch.
- Summer – Building a drainage system for a dryer pasture.
- Fall – Winterize the chicken coop.
- Winter – Start a hydroponic indoor garden.
For this reason, you will want to book your seasonal projects first, ensuring they get done on time. Other projects that are not time sensitive can be put into a slower month.
Once every project is assigned to a month, stop and take a look at your schedule. Make sure you have things spanned out evenly. Be sure you do not have too much scheduled for a particular month.
Remember, your goal is to reduce unnecessary stress, not create it.
By keeping your months consistent with your planning projects throughout the year, you will avoid homesteading burnout.
Step #6. plan each month
If you are anything like me, you need that visual aspect of your schedule in order to ensure projects get completed as planned.
Inside the FREE Homestead Project Planner, you will get monthly pages that you can fill out for each project you have listed.
GRAB YOUR FREE PLANNER BELOW!
Once you have this done, take a look at your main list and transfer each project to the monthly sheet that you have assigned it to.
When finished, spread out all 12 pages and look at each month’s project list individually and as a whole. You should be able to easily see if a month is over-scheduled, is just right, or has very little on it.
When you can see the heavy and light months all spread out in front of you, it allows you to more easily move things around a bit helping you to balance the year out more evenly.
Are you beginning to see the beauty of this system yet??
Pretty amazing isn’t it? Well, wait…it’s going to get even better!
Step #7. Check your calendar
Next, you will want to cross-check things with your calendar.
The purpose of this step is to consider what months are routinely busy or stressful on your homestead so you can ensure this project list is a tool and not a frustration.
Be sure you pay attention to busy months that you routinely have throughout the year and adjust your projects accordingly. For most homesteaders, planting season is usually in the spring months. This means that a large project may do better after that time or before if the weather permits.
You will also want to be aware of unique, or one-time events, that you already have planned. If you have kids leaving for college in August, for example, you may not want to schedule a barn addition for that same month.
Step #8. What’s this going to cost us?
When you have your months completed and finalized it’s time to move on to the money.
This is the part that I am most excited to share with you because it will turn this list into a full plan that you can follow along with.
Go through each and every project that you plan to accomplish this year and write down an estimated cost of what you will need money-wise to complete it. Be sure to take advantage of what materials you have on hand and only purchase what is necessary.
We are homesteaders, after all, and that means spending money on supplies is only used as a last resort.
Scrap wood works great to build a chicken roost or old tires will work perfectly for a climbing gym for your goats. Do a visual inventory of what you have and see if you can use anything for an upcoming project you have scheduled.
More DIY Resources:
Step #9. Tally up your totals
Once you have assigned a cost to each homestead planning project, do a tally and write the total amount needed on the upper corner of each monthly sheet.
This amount is your goal money to have saved up before the start of that month.
Now depending on how you budget your home finances, you may want a monthly number, a quarterly number, or an annual number. Whichever you choose, write that number down and set it in stone.
From this point on, no changes (financially at least) can be made so make sure you are both in agreement before finalizing and moving on.
What does this mean? It means that no additional projects can be added to the list as it will not only upset your annual schedule but your budget as well.
When you are committed as a couple, you will find any decisions in the future are much easier to make when you are both on the same page starting out.
Step #10. Adjust your household budget.
Take those monthly cost numbers from step #8 and transfer them to your household budget.
If you do not have a homestead savings account, then you will need to make adjustments in your budget, so you can put money aside for your upcoming projects.
Find places you can cut or reduce your expenses so you are better able to save the money you need. The whole point of this system is to keep projects from becoming debt makers.
Here are a few ideas for finding extra money for homesteading projects.
- Spend $50 less each month on groceries.
- Do an odd job or two to make the extra money needed for a larger project.
- Sell a few of your homesteading products at the local farmers’ market or auction house.
- Declutter a few items in your home and sell them online.
- Trade services with a fellow homesteader for extra help on a large project.
It is amazing how you can come up with a little money when you are open to thinking outside of the box.
Step #11. Post it so you don’t forget it
This may sound like a small tip but actually, it’s huge.
I have a pretty large bulletin in our office, and I put every single month from our project planner on it. As we complete a project, I cross it off with a highlighter.
It is very therapeutic, crossing those projects off. I highly recommend it. 🙂
SLCG PRO Tip: Leave the months up where you can always see them, even after they are completed and checked off. Seeing all you accomplish as the year progresses is a huge motivator to keep going.
Step #12. Take it one step further
Finally, at the beginning of each new month, take all the projects you have scheduled and assign them a day or a weekend if they are larger.
Start with the most important projects for that month and work your way to the least. Plan on time to get materials bought and/or gathered and set up outside help if needed.
By preparing each month this way you will have smooth sailing year-round.
If you find there are any projects that do not get completed then you can either move them to another month or, if possible, save them for the following year.
By having a system for planning projects on the homestead you will be surprised at all you can accomplish.
Hubby and I have been doing this system for many years now and we are so amazed by the results that we now do the same for our in-home projects as well.
No more are we running around without a plan; having no idea what to do next. Things are no longer falling apart or being forgotten. Animal care is up to date, buildings are staging in good condition, gardens are not being taken over by pests or weeds. We are back in control and the stress is just about gone.
Give this super simple home project planning system a try.
You will be amazed by how well planning projects on the homestead changes everything!