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Recently on a virtual event with 126 financial advisors, I asked what their largest challenge was in serving farm clients. Sixty-four percent named procrastination. This was no surprise as I have often quipped “Procrastination and conflict avoidance are killing agriculture.”

Speaker friend Nathalie Plamondon-Thomas of the Think Yourself Confident Podcast has described procrastination as a “thief of time.” She describes 5 types of procrastination:

  1. Task versus fun. This is when you are choosing internally to give way to distraction like re-ordering the items in the fridge or cleaning the shop when you know the real task is to make an appointment with your accountant to review your year-end data.
  2. Distraction, which is external to you as events or circumstances in your day pull you away from the important things you know you need to start doing.
  3. Fear or anxiety that builds when you are called to do something new and unknown, things you don’t even want to try. For many families this might be attending a family meeting with me when they don’t know what emotions will be shared, the tone of the folks gathered, and if there may be conflict blow-ups. The tension of working to accomplish a new task evokes too many negative feelings, so it feels easier to not even try.
  4. Not organized. Many families ask me about “how do we even get started with the succession transition planning process?” If your farm office is a paper storm, and your financials are in a shoebox, you have a journey of a thousand steps. It all starts with taking the first step. If you don’t know where to start, that is an excuse. Many advisors can help you get started.
  5. Overwhelm. Farmers are a proud and stubborn bunch who tend to want to do things on their own. They also will add lots of things and tasks to their plate without subtracting the lesser important tasks. We all could use more subtraction and simplification to achieve what is truly important.

Plamondon-Thomas is running more podcasts on procrastination, so seek her out.

The Italians have a tool called the Pomodoro, or the tomato approach. In Italy, many kitchen timers are shaped like tomatoes. A Pomodoro is using 25 minutes as a block of time to get something accomplished. (Google Pomodoro technique).

Try this.

Set a 25-minute block of time on your smartphone. Give yourself 25 minutes to make an appointment with the lawyer to update your will. Find your old copy. Or spend the remainder of the time brainstorming the new changes you want to make. Voila! You are on the way to updating your estate plan. Email me if you would like my lawyer friend’s Manitoba version of executor checklists.

Use your digital calendar to block out 2 hours to get your office cleaned up, papers scanned to digital, and chuck stacks of papers that no longer have any value. Having a tidier environment will create energy. My online business manager has suggested I start this project in 10-minute increments every morning before beginning coaching appointments.

Ask for help. This fall my husband helped me clean the outside windows, and we worked as a team. I have timed myself before so had a good idea of how long the task should take. Many hands make light work. I’m also thankful for an employee who helped me clean up my garden as I had worked in small increments to get it started but needed more muscle power to finish the job.

Ask yourself, “Why am I putting this off?” Give yourself a great fun reward for the completion of the task. Many times, as farmers with a strong work ethic we forget the value of fun and play.

Use the words of “By when can I expect you to have this done, and get back to me?” Some farmers have not had timely responses from their advisors, and they get frustrated. Everyone’s time is valuable, so let’s engage a culture of mutual respect, and manage expectations for the completion of work. New language to use: “By when?”

Give the task a numerical scale of readiness. “On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being very ready, how ready are you to book time with a financial planner?” Hubby says 2, and his spouse says 9. Then you know you have a 7 point disconnect of readiness to act. This is the very helpful tool that Michael Pantalon describes in his book Instant Influence.

This summer my Valiant concord grapes boasted a wonderful crop. I carefully put out the bird netting at the proper time and waited for the cool fall nights. Something told me that I should harvest all the grapes one evening, but I did not follow the prompting. The next day I discovered the wind had dislodged the bird netting and the sparrows had found a way to use all my plump grapes to satisfy their thirst. I had procrastinated harvesting a precious crop of grapes and lost the potential of 20 jars of grape jelly. The downside is now I must wait another 11 months for the next crop of grapes.

Missing out on treasured fruit is not life-threatening. Delaying the signing of your will documents will leave your family in chaos. I regret the day I delayed visiting an elderly friend in the hospital. By the time I arrived, she had passed.

Procrastination is a barrier to you getting what you need and want in a timely fashion.

Look for ways to make the task accomplishment fun. Mitigate distractions. Calm your fear and anxiety with a coach and trusted advisor. Get organized and let go of the overwhelming. Just keep taking the next step. You can do this. Go set your timer now.

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Elaine Froese is a life-long learner of ways to get things done. Her passion is to help farm families find harmony through understanding in their transition journey. Sign up for her blog and buy her books at www.elainefroese.com. Do it now!

Visit Elaine’s store or watch her new speaker reel.

Did you enjoy Squashing the Procrastination Monster on your Farm? You might want to check these articles out too:

Clear Concise Communication
Who gets to do what on this farm? A family roles guide.
Creating a sense of urgency is a good thing

Rave reviews

“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
“Elaine helped me allocate $1 Million of assets the night I listened to her. Elaine’s presentation brings value to the use of my services in my office.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
“I recently joined in and listened to your Healthy Farmer Agriwebinar for FMC. I truly enjoyed hearing your perspective and even went and grabbed my Mom, away from her work, to come and listen in on some of your main points as well! One area that really stood out for me, both personally with our own succession plans and with our clients, was your discussion involving "Instant Influence" and how ready are you to change? I loved this concept!”
Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
“Helped me develop my framework to start having constructive and meaningful conversations around the farm.”
Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
“Elaine gives me excellent tools that help me work with my clients!”
Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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