How much time it takes to maintain and run your lifestyle property is directly related to the size of it and what you’re using it for. If you’re simply enjoying the space, privacy and natural surrounds of rural life you’ll have less to do than if you’re keeping livestock/animals, growing orchards or crops, or running a hospitality/accommodation business. These generic tips can be applied to all of those things.
Differentiate between projects and maintenance
The benefit of doing this is that because maintenance jobs happen regularly you can often set a fixed time limit on them and they’re easy to plan for because they’re never a surprise. Projects are one offs and have to continue until they’re done.
Factor in cleaning up
Simple but essential and can make a huge difference to the performance of your equipment, which in turn, affects how long it takes to do something; for example, blunt mower blades give a poor cut and could mean going back over it.
Get the right mower
With a large area to mow on your property having the right mower can make a world of difference. For example, did you know a good zero-turn mower practically cuts your mow time in half by going at speeds of up to 13km/h! Download our free guide on how to choose the right mower and learn more about what you need for your property.
Mow more often
This isn’t as counter-intuitive as it might seem. It means you don’t have to go as slow as you do when the grass is longer and you’re less likely to need a catcher, which adds a lot of time because it needs emptying.
Earn an income from your property
Often a lack of time to dedicate to a lifestyle block comes from balancing work and life. If you can make enough money by producing something from your lifestyle property then you’ll have at least an extra eight hours a day. Easier said than done though. First of all, by upping your activity on the property you’re also upping the amount of work that needs doing. And secondly, there are some tax and compliance issues to be considered as you’re essentially turning your property into a business. We recommend you talk to a specialist rural business advisor/accountant if you decide to explore this.
Plan out your year
Good time management starts with having a plan. On a big wall planner mark out every major task you can think of (eg. hay making, new pasture, harvesting a crop, trimming shelterbelts, etc.) and block out roughly how long you think it will take.
Be realistic and flexible
That being said, things like weather, sick or dead animals or malfunctioning equipment can get easily upset the plan. Don’t stress about what you can’t control, owning a lifestyle block is a constant ‘work in progress’ so there’ll be other tasks to get on with in the meantime.
Write a weekly list
Using your annual plan, make a list once a week with jobs that need addressing in the next 10 days along with an estimate of how long they’ll take. If you can’t do one job you can choose another, or if (by some miracle) you find yourself with a spare bit of time you can pick something from the list that will fill the gap.
Save time by cutting out this job almost entirely. Cover your garden with newspaper or weed mat and bark to help hinder their growth. Should one pop up, pluck it out by the root when the plant is young so it doesn’t go to seed and spread.
Many hands make light work so for the big jobs, enlist people to help with the promise of a BBQ and drinks at the end of the day.
If you run an organic farm you may also be able to access WWOOFers, volunteer workers who provide free labour in return for accommodation and food and the chance to learn about organic farming.
Saving time and not losing time go hand in hand. To help avoid setbacks from illness make sure you take care of yourself by eating well and getting good sleep. Also, by going to bed early, you’ll wake up earlier and have more time in the morning.
To learn more about the essential need to knows about maintaining lifestyle block, download our free guide full of top industry tips.