Self Improvement

5 Habits Farmers Have That Can Boost Your Own Productivity

Trevor Dobrygoski 18-02-2015

Farmers are hard workers. Something you might not know is, farming is full of some very monotonous activities. Activities that need to be done regardless of how boring the tasks are, the weather, if they are sick, or any other excuse we who work on a computer for a living can think of to avoid work.


Digital workers have a tremendous amount in common with farmers and we can learn a lot from them. Farmers have tried and true methods to get through the days and years doing what they need to do to make a living and support their families without going off the deep end from the monotony.

A Good Night’s Sleep

Many digital workers feel the need to work until the wee hours of the night. It’s almost a stereotype in movies for programmers to be up at 3:27AM, all jacked up on caffeine or energy drinks and writing code while blasting some sort of techno beat. (Check out the best energy drinks if you’re having trouble staying awake!)

Farmers aren’t that intense and realize the value of a good night’s sleep.

Asleep at keyboard

Being well rested and having a good sleep routine is a key factor for having the energy to complete everything the next day. They work hard all day so they usually have no problems getting to sleep at night. Humans aren’t made to expend energy continuously. We alternate between sleep and rest. As this NY Times article says energy is finite, but unlike time, it is renewable.


Although many of us can’t increase the working hours in the day, we can measurably increase our energy.

You might not need a full 8 hours of sleep, everyone is different. Utilizing an application for your Android, Sleep Diary Pro, you can calculate the time you need to go to sleep based on the time you to wake up or vise versa. Sleep Diary Pro will also help you track your sleep patterns.

James has also tried to answer the question of sleep tracking with an app Can An App Really Help You Sleep Better? I've always been a bit of a sleep experimenter, having for much of my life kept a meticulous dream diary and studied as much as I could about sleeping in the process. There are a... Read More . An app or not, it is vital you understand your body clock 3 Daily Habits That Make a Huge Difference to Your Day Life's good at blindsiding you every now and then. With a few simple strategies, you can become adept at handling all of life's uncertainties with aplomb. Read More and energise your day.

The Power of Routines

Routines are extremely important on a farm. The chores — feeding, watering and milking the animals, cleaning up the barn, stocking the wood stove, tending to the fields/crops, etc. —  need to be completed every day, sometimes twice a day.

sun winking


Think about your day as a digital worker. You need to attend to emails, make calls, write a blog post, send your newsletter, collaborate with colleagues and clients, go to the gym, read and comment on other people’s site. And that’s a few things from an average to-do list. How many of those are actual money makers for you, and how many are tedious but necessary?

Setting a routine based on when you are most productive is ideal. Wake up, go to the gym and plan your day based on your money making activities. Batch your other tasks like social media and reading new industry related information and commenting.

Successful entrepreneurs like Jack Dorsey follow this rule to the letter. According to Buffer, the founder of Twitter and Square “themes” his days and stay focussed on the particular tasks for that day.

There is interruption all the time but I can quickly deal with an interruption and then know that it’s Tuesday, I have product meetings and I need to focus on product stuff.

Having a routine is what a lot of people trapped in a day job want to get away from, however, a routine is what keeps us plugging along and in the work mindset. Technology can help you take a motivating first step 3 Simple Ways Tech Can Help Build Your Morning Routine With a little thought and creativity, you can create the perfect start to your day, your way. If you're still working on your morning routine, here's a little inspiration. Read More , and then allow momentum to take over. Finding the right routine may take some time, but once you start to find what works, you’ll be super productive.


Know Your Deadlines

On a farm, certain deadlines need to be met, as many are based on the seasons. You’ll need to get the fields planted by a certain time based on the typical weather patterns. You’ll need to harvest the crops within a certain amount of time or they will spoil in the fields, animals need to be milked and fed according to the clock.


We all have deadlines, some self-imposed while others are based on client demands. For those of us in the digital realm, we have project management apps How to Create the Last Perfect Time Management System You'll Ever Use Productivity is a constant search for more organization with less work. A way to accomplish everything you dream to accomplish, without losing out on sleep. Can this automated time management system do it all? Read More and collaborative to-do lists 5 New Productivity Apps to Manage Your To-Do List and Get Things Done The best productivity app will always be whatever works for you. In this list, you might find one that will help you get things done. Read More .

The key, whether you’re a farmer or a digital worker, is to break down the project into smaller micro-goals How to Create a Vision Board and Meet Your Big Goals You can call them as big rocks or big, hairy, audacious goals. Some call it a bucket list. Emptying that bucket calls for action. This is where a visual tool like Trello proves useful. Read More . With micro-goals you won’t be overwhelmed and achieving these will keep you moving ahead.  With all of the potential product management apps out there, you can try a few and see what works best for your needs.


Some project management apps like Asana The Best Free vs. Paid Project Management Apps and Tools There are a variety of project management tools you can try. Let's take a detailed look at some of the free and paid choices. Read More are better for teams while a flexible project management app like Trello Trello - A Unique, Simple & Powerful Project Management System From A Good Home Does the name Joel Spolsky mean anything to you? If so, you’re going to want to read this post, because it showcases Spolsky’s latest and greatest project. And if not, you should know this is... Read More could be better for the individual with a strong visual orientation. Pay more attention to how the apps work for your needs. If you are struggling to learn a new method, you may want to look for something a bit simple.

Managing Money

Money is always a struggle on the farm, especially on a farm with a lazy farmer. If the crops aren’t cared for and harvested or the animals aren’t milked and taken to be processed, there is no income to be had. The trick is to not spend anything unless the money is in your account. And even then, being frugal is important. You never know what the future will hold for your livestock or crops.

Also, farmers rely heavily on their equipment. A tractor or combine isn’t a cheap buy or repair, so they need to keep a handle on their finances 15 Excel Spreadsheet Templates for Managing Your Finances Always keep track of your financial health. These free Excel spreadsheet templates are the tools you need to manage your money. Read More  to either pay for or make payments on new equipment when needed.

John Deere in the Grass

The same holds true for the rest of us. Poor financial management takes productivity off the rails. Having a good money management plan 7 Money Management Tools in Google Drive You Should Start Using Keeping track of your finances on paper can get messy. Use these expense trackers and templates to manage your finances instead. Read More  is essential. Not being financially literate Simply Frugal: How To Learn Personal Finance The Easy Way Do you fret over bills and debt on a regular basis? Do you feel lost when others speak using financial lingo? Here's the good news: it's never too late to learn about money. Read More is no longer an excuse because today anyone can acquire an education thanks to online free courses.

Finding Creative Solutions

Walking around an average farm, you’ll see a lot of little fixes to pesky problems. Some are pretty common — welding a gate or adding a snow fence to cut down on the snow drifts — while other solutions may be a bit more out of the box. Most of the duties on the farm are manual labor. However, some of the tasks such as milking, have some automation involved. Having this sort of help increases the number of animals the farmer can attend to in a day.

You can be equally crafty with your day to day productivity. Processes are pivotal to the productivity of an individual or a small business. Any automated process for your small business will help you make time for money making activities.

Documenting a process is a good starting point. You might get insights to improve the processes for greater efficiency. But keep in mind that processes come with their own traps. Especially, for creative tasks. Fast Company says processes can kill productivity if we don’t re-examine them…

When people’s jobs depend on meeting metrics and maintaining the status quo, can you fault them for their reluctance to expend any energy toward creation and invention?

Go back to the way you do things.

For instance: Instead of being bound to the desk, can mobile solutions improve your productivity?

One way to go mobile is to use cloud storage and apps. Become a Dropbox power user 5 Tools For The Dropbox Power User The popularity of Dropbox makes it difficult to start using any other kind of cloud storage. Here are 5 add-on tools for you if Dropbox is an essential part of your web workflow. Read More or use Google Drive across your devices. Because each job has different specific needs, a combination of applications is usually the best solution. Finding an alternative app 14 Free and Open Source Alternatives for Paid Software Don't waste money on software for personal use! Not only do free alternatives exist, they most likely offer all the features you need and may be easier and safer to use. Read More can solve a bottleneck at a lesser cost.

A farmer’s “Macgyver” attitude can be easily transplanted to our tech lives. Look into this Reddit thread for some quick inspiration.

Lessons in Sustainable Growth

Not everyone gets to experience what it’s like running a modern farm. The actual work being done, the long days and the strict deadlines all come with the territory. No excuses, the work needs to be done.

As digital workers, we feel like the world is coming to an end if a blog post fights us a little bit when we’re writing. Or when we have a client that’s being unreasonable. Remember, we can figure out a way. Just like farmers.

Farmers need to keep at it until the job is done. They don’t have a choice.

Learning how to grow your level of efficiency from generations of men and women who grow things will teach you how to stick to your deadlines no matter what. Spend your time working and growing.

What can you learn from the hard working farmers and their “get it done no matter what” attitude?

Image Credit: 19/365+1 [Asleep at keyboard] via Flickr, Winking Sun and Farmer via Pixabay, Wheat Harvesting via Brian Robert Marshall, John Deere 3130 via Flickr

Related topics: Motivation, Time Management.

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  1. A41202813GMAIL
    February 20, 2015 at 7:35 am

    Practices From Companies Like monsanto Are Bringing Their Traditional Happiness Down, Just Like All The Other Professions For The Rest Of Us, Though.


  2. Guy
    February 18, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    One thing that some farmers benefit from is that some seasons are a bit slower in work pace. There's an ebb and flow to the workload. Calving season or harvest is all out, while the summer season is a bit slower, and winter slower still.

    Still lots to be done, of course, but there is ample time for rest and recreation. Farmers remember to get out and play every now and again.

    Much of the other markets are always pushing for maximum productivity all the time. It's just not sustainable.

    • Saikat
      February 19, 2015 at 5:22 am

      Great insight Guy. Other lessons come from the need for sustainable farming practices and the analogy with our own processes. We pour everything when we want to change a habit -- from losing weight with crash diets to what not...disrupting a lot of other processes along the way. Often farms and individuals choose short-term productivity at the expense of overall health.

      But that ebbs away. The trick is to choose sustainable productivity habits. That's why I think it's best to start small and build up from there.

    • Trevor Dobrygoski
      February 21, 2015 at 1:34 am

      Very true Guy. Making time to spend with family is very important in rural communities.