“Wisely managing your time can help bring more balance and profitability into your custom harvesting business.”

That was Sam Splear's key message during his presentation at this year's U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc., annual meeting in Topeka, KS.

“There are no magical solutions to time management, but rather some basic principles that can be followed to help custom harvesters make the most of their valuable time,” says Splear. He's John Deere's Quad Cities human resources manager for training.

He offers these suggestions:

  • Analyze your work day and write a daily to-do list. Put an A, B or C by each item on your list.

    “An A indicates what you have to do today, a B indicates you should do it today, and a C means it would be nice if you get it done today,” says Splear.

  • Practice asking yourself, “Is this the most important thing I can be doing right now?”

  • Don't avoid major unpleasant jobs. Instead, break them into smaller, more manageable tasks and complete one portion each day. By using a piecemeal approach, you'll be able to fit large jobs into your hectic schedule.

  • Practice a screen-door vs. an open-door policy. “Quickly end non-essential visits and telephone calls,” he recommends. “Learn to say no.”

  • Handle paperwork once.

    “If you pick up a piece of paper, such as a bill, do something with it. Simply putting it down again doesn't get you anywhere.”

  • Throw unneeded things away.

  • Spend more time on what you're good at and divide tasks among your employees based on what they're good at.

  • Encourage your employees to become problem solvers.

    “When an employee brings a problem to your attention, ask him to propose three possible solutions.”

  • Finally, maintain balance.

“Don't forget to carve out some ‘me’ time for yourself and some ‘we’ time for your spouse, children and friends,” says Splear.