I live with my family on a horse farm 150 kilometers from my workplace.
That is, from my daytime job and the work I get paid for. After all, I have to put in a lot of work hours at the farm as well. Seven horses – with paddocks – and nine buildings require a fair amount of work and maintenance. I wouldn’t call myself a farmer, even though I once actually put the plough on the tractor and ploughed up my land. But we don't grow anything and don't own any woodland worth mentioning.
But how do you avoid being stressed out by all the tasks a farm require when you leave home at 6am and come home at 7pm? A big part of the solution is to just accept that you don’t have time for everything. And above all: you cannot do everything by yourself!
Half of my travel time I'm on a train, which isn't too bad when I have things to do. In the morning I usually work and get an easy start of the day: I check my calendar, think about what needs to be done during the day, read requirements specifications and write new test cases. On the way home, I reflect a little upon the day that has passed. I might read a book or listen to a podcast or online course. On occasion, I’ve missed my station and have had to take a 20 kilometre bus ride back! The key to coping with the commute is to realize there is no point to get upset over things you cannot control. Coming to think of it, that probably applies to many other things in life!
As I get off the bus to cycle the last two kilometres home, I always get a feeling of peace. Someone once said to me "it's so quiet out here, there are no sounds at all". But there are: the wind in the trees, bumblebees buzzing around flowers, the chirps of swallows in the sky, the chatter of ducks from the lake, the hen proudly telling me that she just laid an egg.
We have a small whiteboard in the kitchen. At breakfast, we list the to-do’s of the day, and jot down who will take care of them. You could say that we have a “culture of commitment” where everyone takes responsibility for the things they want to do. It is often tasks you are interested in, feel comfortable with and have knowledge of.
Some assignments depend on each other, or should preferably be done in a certain order. Others depend on the weather or other external factors we have no control over. Some tasks require several people, either to actually get them done, or to discuss how to best handle them. Those tasks are always the most fun!
Some things have to be done – we cannot, or should not, postpone them. They are the ones that give you a guilty conscience, that stop us from doing other things, that cost money or that may ruin something if they are not fixed. But the list sometimes also includes ”feelgood projects” – often smaller things that can get done quickly and give great results, but still aren’t super-important. I think it's good to mix these two types of tasks. The feeling of getting things done is nice!
We must remember that the family is a Team with different interests, strengths and weaknesses. But if the common goal is clear and we talk to each other, things work out most of the time.
If a task can't be ticked off during the day, it may still be there until the next day, or week after. I enjoy both of my ”two jobs”.