Attention Farmers! You’re Not "Too Busy" to Start Planning Your Estate

Life is busy when you run an agricultural business. Day to day activities — such as planting, harvesting, caring for animals, maintaining property, refining farming methods and recruiting great people — all take time and energy. It's easy to "stay busy," season to season, without making progress on the critical activities that will define your farm’s future.

To achieve abundance that can last for years, if not for generations, and withstand pressures and setbacks, you need to establish processes and procedures to protect your farm. But you also have so much on your plate already. So where should you put your energy?

There’s a difference between being busy and being effective. Being busy means "doing a lot of stuff." Bring effective means "achieving important goals that get you what you really want."

It is possible to be busy without being effective. For instance, you might spend a 16 hour day prepping the soil and laying down seeds for some crop. But if you didn't check the weather, and then a killer frost hits, all your hard work would mean nothing.

Conversely, you can be effective without being busy. For instance, you could recruit your sons and their school friends to set up a contest to sell surplus gourds that your farm produced (that would otherwise have gone to waste.) They and their friends do the work; your farm earns extra cash it otherwise never would have gotten.

To manage your agricultural business effectively, you must look for leverage and pay attention to longer-term horizons of focus.

In his bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Steven Covey developed a concept he called the "Four Quadrant Time Management Matrix." Covey noted that there are only four types of activities that take up our time:

  • Quadrant 1 activities are both urgent and important. (For example: rescuing a horse that’s escaped from the barn on a stormy night.)
  • Quadrant 2 activities are important but not urgent. (For example: figuring out when to leave certain land fallow 12 months from now.)
  • Quadrant 3 activities are urgent, but not that important. (For example: fielding a phone call from a potential feed supplier.)
  • Quadrant 4 activities are neither urgent nor important. (For example: shooting the breeze with farmhands or browsing equipment catalogs.)

Per Covey, when you prioritize long range planning and goal setting — the easy to neglect but ultimately vital Quadrant 2 activities — you can improve all aspects of your life and work. To put it another way: if you're too busy, but not effective, that means you're neglecting your Quadrant 2 projects.

Estate planning is important, but not urgent. It is a classic Quadrant 2 activity. You need to get it done, even if the consequences of not doing it won't immediately be apparent. Fortunately, you don't need to stop all the work at your farm (and in your life) to dispatch this activity. The team at Gudorf Law Group can help. We work with Ohio farmers all the time, and we would be happy to provide a free 60-minute consultation about your needs. Call us now at 877-483-6730!