Spring planting 2017 (#plant17) is going to be interesting. That hashtag is “Greek” to the stubborn farmers who refuse to text. Don’t even think about teaching them how to tweet! Cell phones have been dubbed “smartphones,” but sometimes the way folks are addicted to them causes dumb problems. I’ve read 3 articles that suggest that cell phones are creating isolation, poorer communication, and less robust relationships.
Stress rises when there is a million-dollar crop to get in the ground, excess moisture, and too many jobs for the short hours of the day. Consider these tips for using your smart phone during this year’s planting season.
1. Sleep is Healing and Restorative
Are you getting a decent sleep? If your cell phone is in your hand while you sleep or beeping at 5 am. you might want to consider turning it off and using a regular old fashioned alarm clock. Most farmers I know have an adrenaline alarm clock built into their bodies in seeding time. The sun breaks through the window and they are ready to roll. Personally, I am happier with my cell phone sleeping down the hall in my home office.
2. Learn How to Text
Texting keeps everyone informed and able to ask questions to double check procedures. How many acres did you cover? Was the depth okay? etc. Communication is about giving and receiving clear messages. Let a younger farmer be your teacher. Learn this skill now!
3. Put Some Power Packs in Your Tractors
I attend enough farm meetings that I have a cache of power packs for my cell phone. Check if your tractor port can house an adapter. While you are checking your tractors, also supply toilet paper and a first aid kit in a lidded ice cream pail.
4. Honor Your Mother’s Request to Fill Her Basket at the Back Door
Honor your mother’s request to fill her basket at the back door with your phone when you come to mom’s for a special dinner. Some homes use a basket at the back door to hold the cell phones while the family celebrates being together. This may be a stretch for those of you working 24/7 to get the crop in, but it would work for better family dialogue if there were a “no cell phones at the table rule” when folks are trying to engage in robust family dialogue. If you need help discussing some tough issues without phones getting in the way, check out some of my great available resources here.
5. Manage Interruptions with Grace
We once had a guest that suggested “next time they will just call,” as my husband was interrupted several times during our meal. This is the fight/flight of business owners who serve other farmers. Is your mantra to always be “available” no matter what? Boundaries are important for good self-care, especially in 2017’s time-crunch seeding cycle. Make sure that you are rested, well-fed and refreshed in order to manage the extra stresses of seeding time. Maybe it is time to change your voicemail to help manage expectations. The millennials don’t even use voicemail, so there is that call to text again!
6. Avoid the Social Media Vortex of Sucking Away Too Much Time
You might be wise to use a timer to limit Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. when you really should be napping, or playing with your children. I can be guilty of reading my Twitter feed for updates, but the upside is you can also get a great answer to your problems in the field by tweeting it out to your tribe. Again, the balance of usefulness of a tool versus the addictive nature of dopamine rushing to your brain when you hear the “ping” of your phone.
7. Place Your Phone in a Spot Where Habitually it Works for You
When I travel, my phone is designated to a special pocket of my bag. Guys who put it in shirt pockets have to be careful it doesn’t fall out when they lean over moving parts. Do what works for you, but don’t create extra stress by leaving it on the tractor tire. Always keeping it in your hand is likely a sign you are pretty much addicted to it, and you may be setting yourself up for a physio appointment for sore hand muscles! I use a passport type neck pouch that is great for having my phone close but being hands-free in the garden and doing field runs.
8. Give Yourself Permission to Silence Your Phone
Solitude is a huge gift. It is also a good discipline for blocking time off in silence to think. Think about your plans for the day. Listen to your intuition and reflect. Shut off the truck radio while you wait in the field and just think. When you get some great ideas, jot notes on your phone! Get the thought captured, but go back to thinking about how you can work on your farm business, not just in it.
9. Share Seeding Actions with the Rest of Your Farm Team
A farm team uses Google documents to keep the whole farm team abreast of what is happening on the fields in real time. The data is shared in the cloud so the team has access to all the information it needs to make great management decisions. Group texts may also work for you.
10. Email with Better Subject Lines
Take a few extra seconds to refresh or change the subject line so busy people can prioritize your requests. My speaker friend Hugh Culver authored Give Me a Break. Culver suggests that your email inbox is someone else’s agenda, NOT YOURS! All capitals suggest that I am screaming at you. I am not. Understanding that your farm team gets to set their agenda is huge when folks start feeling overwhelmed with seeding’s demands.
11. Tools are Important, but People Come First
Does your cell phone etiquette cause you to put down your phone and look people in the eye when they are conversing with you? Do you ask for permission to take a call?
11. Social Media Support
I use Culver’s Stand Out Social to help manage my social media. Tell him I sent you.