Self-Sufficient Living | Homesteading | Gardening

How Can I Homestead When I Have NO Time?

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Let’s face it – this isn’t an overnight project or even a season-long one. It’s not gonna happen quick. Yeah, yeah, I know – you read all of those blogs and they all make it sound like it came together in one day and it was no big deal; they did it as they home-birthed six kids, simultaneously (with no painkillers of course) as they made a living from selling these essential oil things to everyone they know. You and me? Ahem, we’re working, baby. I don’t want to hear about your day spent busting your butt to boil some chicken bones into soup.

First, let’s face facts and be real. If you want even a semblance of independence in your life, it takes time and commitment to get there. We’re talking about a lifelong pursuit to get to where you ideally want to be. And expect that to change over the months and years as you, your family and circumstances do. You may never be actually what you’d call “finished”. And that’s okay. This isn’t a race; it’s a journey and a pursuit.

So, how do you begin at all when you don’t have any spare time?



  • Change Your Way of Thinking About It


Attitude, commitment, and perseverance play a huge part. Be realistic and recognize that these can and will ebb and flow at different stages and with different events in your life. New baby? Sick with the flu? Offered 10 hours of overtime at work? Don’t let setbacks that require your time discourage you. They’re going to happen. Readjust and accept it. Go with the flow and move on when you can. No negativity because whatever you can accomplish, no matter what, it is a step forward. End of pep talk. Back to work!


  • Narrow Your Focus To One Reasonable Goal 


Maybe this is the year you want to start a garden, install a rain barrel, or begin stocking up on some food. The goal doesn’t have to be huge; it’s much more realistic if it’s not. Just make sure it’s something important to you, and something you have the time, money, and energy to commit to and see through. Put some serious thought into this before you decide.


  • Qualify Your Goal’s Realism


Now that you determined your project, plan to spend some time getting set up. Sit down with paper or an online tool you find helpful and break this down into the smallest possible steps you can. List them all. I’m trying to throw in here details that should probably break into baby steps, just to get you thinking about all there is to consider. Really, it will make it easier. When you have “baby steps” to accomplish, they go a lot faster. What we’re doing is project managing. So, if I was writing a list for myself, it might look like this:

Goal: start a garden (pretty broad and big, right? So break it down):

  1. Choose an appropriate spot for it (check out sun light in various areas of the yard, check how convenient it is to the house and yard use, check to see if you need fencing for that area that may, check for drainage, check for access to water)
  2. Decide which method of gardening to use (investigate what works for the area, what I can afford, what appeals and works for me)
  3. Test the soil of that area (test at home? Send away? What amendments are needed? What’s the ph? What’s the soil type? How much work and time will this spot require to make it yield? Do I need to rethink the location?)
  4. Make a realistic plan of what to plant (what time of year am I starting this? How long is my growing season? What will my family eat? How much time can I put in every day/week? What do I want to get out of this for now? Do we want enough to eat fresh, or to share or to preserve? Do we want to continue this through the next season or take a break?)
  5. Acquire the necessary tools and soil amendments needed (What are the very basic tools we need? What amendments? What might we need as the season goes on?)
  6. Prepare the garden beds (and this step may need to be broken down even further, depending on the method you chose)
  7. Get seeds/plant starts
  8. Plant (and obviously, in this example, it won’t end here)
  1. Create a Time-frame

Since you’re juggling quite a few responsibilities at the same time, you’re not going to have 40 hours a week to put into any project. So…

  • Figure out what you can say “no to temporarily in your life to get create small amounts of time to get this done.
  • Simplify your responsibilities as much as possible to ease your load. But give yourself permission to skimp for a short while. Yes, I do get how hard that is to do. Maybe you can let one thing go and give yourself 30 minutes one night before or after work? It can mean a crappy meal (believe me, they’ll still live if you have a night of take out or frozen food; if the food police take issue, let them come bring your family dinner)
  • Grab your time wherever you can. Eliminate any time drains you’ve got. Maybe stock up ahead – when you go to the grocery store, buy two of things you might need to get on a later weekly trip. Can you do a play date thing for your kids or a reciprocal babysitting to get a few hours? Can you squeeze your usual weekend errands into an extra hour or two during the week?
  • Get your family and friends on board as much as possible. It’s always easier with support and more than one brain, set of eyes, hands – not to mention backs- are always beneficial to have. Getting another perspective or idea can prevent future problems or see something you missed. Plus it’s a mental boost and helps to keep everyone motivated when you’re in it together as a team. And, cliche as it sounds, these are the memories you’re, really!
  1. When You Have No Time to Do – Plan!

Project is outdoors and it’s pouring rain all week? Too much else going on for a few days? Things will happen. Use your downtime to research questions you have or evaluate where you’re at. Had a new inspiration? Check it out during 5 or 10 minutes you might have while waiting in line somewhere or watching TV. Sometimes just time to think and reflect is the most productive time of all. Don’t rule it out – you may get your best idea!

  1. Settle In For the Long Haul

Recognize it’s not all gonna be fun and it’s not necessarily gonna yield instant gratification or even feel rewarding. That’s okay. You’re not a shallow person and that’s not what you’re after. You’re building upon every step you take here, no matter what the timeframe is. You are going to take pride in every single thing you accomplish. Completed “Step A” from that original project list we did (remember that)? Hey, I think you’re awesome and that’s 100% more than most people ever get. I hope you have someone else besides just me cheering you on. Go ahead, rejoice and then plan how to get ‘Step B done. You’ve got momentum going on now, baby!

Don’t ever be afraid to reevaluate your plans, your goals or your approach. It’s always better to rethink before you’re stuck with the end result.

  1. Be Proud of Everything You Accomplish

It doesn’t have to have value to anyone but you. People can either think this is nuts or it’s the coolest thing they ever saw. But you actually did it: you took a goal, worked hard at it, accomplished it, and learned something. Guess what? You’ve been homesteading. We’re proud of you!

Show us what your project was – inspire others!


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