Good time management is key to farm profit, according to Jim Dockery of Farm Relief Service Training, who was speaking at the Smart Farming seminar in Portlaoise this week.

Speaking to AgriLand, he explained that sometimes the basic advice is the best advice. “The aim is to get the most out of your working day. Take time to plan your time. Planning is key and allow yourself to do that. The first thing in the morning, plan your day and make a weekly plan. Keep a diary and prioritise four or five things. Set goals and tasks that are realistic and review and examine each week,” he advised.

He described a good technique to tackling tasks head on “What, who, when, where and why. Apply this to each task.”

In terms of personal development, he advised farmers examine the art of thinking. “Think of who you are, who shapes you. You are shaped by the five closest people around you. If there are negative people, they will bring you down. But if you are surrounded by positive, forward-thinking people you will be shaped by them. Know yourself. ‘I didn’t start out the bollox I am today, it’s the people that made me this way’. Reflect on this.

In terms of habits, Dockery’s advice is to change habits once a month, to gain a good routine. “For example if you are always late with your paperwork to the Department of Agriculture, change that. The next time a letter comes in change the habit. If you change a habit once a month, that’s 12 good habits for a year. If you change a habit once a day, that’s 365 good habits a year. And victories. Define your talents and write your victories down. Your contribution to the farm, where it was 10 years ago and where it is now. Reflect and look back. This is a great boost to your self-esteem.”

Good leaders are also key, the training manager noted. “I would encourage farmers to follow good leaders and ask themselves why that person is a good leader. As they say ‘four per cent of people are in the parade, five per cent watch the parade and 90 per cent don’t know the parade is on.”

With regard to time management challenges, Dockery explained that in his opinion weather, workload and new regulations are the major constraints.

“In terms of workload, be more efficient. Be ready for each job, plan everything. Machinery can move faster so in bad weather consider a contractor. The way to beat the weather challenge is planning. Also with heavy workload, try to get in help, additional labour or outsource. With new regulations. Keep up-to-speed. Education yourself, go to discussion groups, keep up-to-speed and get good advice from your solicitor and accountant.”

He continued: “A lot of time is wasted on non-profit jobs, scrapping the yard for example. The most important jobs are linked to profit and they must be prioritised. For example time preventing mastitis in cows than treating a mastitis cow is an example of better time management when linked to profit and efficiency.”

According to Dockery, outsourcing is fundamental to many farm enterprises. “Outsourcing. Definitely, yes. Fencing, hoof car, scaring, dehorning calves, drivers, milking, sheep shearing, dipping, hoof care. These are all examples efficient outsourcing. Also a farmer might not have specialised people so to outsource areas that allows the farmer to focus on profit is also key.”

FRS Training offers a wide range of QQI accredited training programs nationwide, including health and safety, people skills, personal development among others.

Farm Relief Service Training is taking part in, a new initiative that highlights ways that farmers can reduce farm bills and maximise output through better resource management. Among the agencies taking part include Teagasc, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Irish Farmers Association among others. 

Over the coming weeks, AgriLand will feature interviews with the many speakers and advisors of this new initiative, Smartfarming,ie. 

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