Ten Tips for the Opti­mal Organ­i­sa­tion of Your Farm Office

From spring to autumn, most of the work is out in the fields. In the office things are often put to the side and only the most impor­tant tasks are com­plet­ed. Think­ing about the grow­ing stacks of paper and unopened bills can cause addi­tion­al stress. In addi­tion, you often spend a lot of time look­ing for doc­u­ments. Accord­ing to a study, this lack of organ­i­sa­tion can cost a com­pa­ny up to € 2,000 a year.

Now the work in the fields is final­ly done and we are enter­ing a qui­eter part of the year. Time that you per­haps want to – or have to – use to get some work done in the office. We’ll give you ten help­ful tips that you can use now and in the future to help you bet­ter organ­ise your farm office and stop desk work from pil­ing up.

1. Set up an office

While this tip might sound obvi­ous, more often than not peo­ple work in the cor­ner of their kitchen, with fold­ers and loose papers every­where, or in a “mul­ti­func­tion room” with box­es stacked up in the cor­ner and lots of “stuff” on the desk – con­di­tions that make it hard to con­cen­trate on work and dif­fi­cult to store doc­u­ments in a clear way.

If you have the space avail­able, you should set up a room as a ded­i­cat­ed office. There shouldn’t be any­thing in the room that isn’t to do with your office work. Here you should be able to con­cen­trate, have some peace and qui­et to work and be able to close (or even lock) the door when you need to.

If you do not have a whole room that you can set up as an office, you should clear­ly sep­a­rate off an area of a room instead. Cab­i­nets, screens, slid­ing cur­tains, etc., are all per­fect for sep­a­rat­ing off an area of a room that you can then use as an office.

Man stretching at his desk

2. Tidy up your work­space and make sure that all your devices work

All the tools and devices that you reg­u­lar­ly use when work­ing should always be with­in easy reach. For exam­ple, you should place your print­er direct­ly next to or behind the desk if pos­si­ble. You should also always have a notepad and a work­ing pen at hand just in case you want to note some­thing down while you’re on the phone, for exam­ple.

Make sure that all your devices are “ready to use”, e.g. check that your print­er has enough paper and ink.

It’s also impor­tant to make sure that every­thing has its own place so that you don’t waste time search­ing every­where. You can also save time when using your com­put­er by book­mark­ing impor­tant sites. This means that you will be able to log into your 365FarmNet account much faster, for exam­ple.

3. Cre­ate a farm-spe­cif­ic fil­ing plan

A suit­able fil­ing plan is the foun­da­tion of an opti­mal office organ­i­sa­tion. The fol­low­ing struc­ture has proven to be very effec­tive:

00 Com­pa­ny man­age­ment
01 Admin­is­tra­tion
02 Finance
03 Per­son­nel
04 Fund­ing
05 Crop cul­ti­va­tion
06 Pig farm­ing / fat­ten­ing
07 Sow man­age­ment / piglet pro­duc­tion
08 Cat­tle farm­ing and dairy pro­duc­tion
09 Poul­try fat­ten­ing
10 Poul­try / egg pro­duc­tion
11 Projects

It’s a good idea to cre­ate a struc­ture that is suit­able for your farm and then apply this struc­ture to your com­put­er AND the files in your office. You can work out the struc­ture on your own or ask fam­i­ly mem­bers or oth­er employ­ees for their ideas and input.

4. Give all the rel­e­vant peo­ple an overview and access

If the fil­ing plan was not cre­at­ed joint­ly, it’s impor­tant that you explain the struc­ture of it to all employ­ees so that every­one can direct­ly file or find doc­u­ments, such as deliv­ery notes for exam­ple.

With 365FarmNet, you can involve employ­ees in the oper­a­tional man­age­ment of the farm with the Employ­ee Access com­po­nent. In addi­tion, the 365Crop app makes doc­u­men­ta­tion easy and fast for every­one, even when they’re out and about in the field.

You should also cre­ate a sub­sti­tu­tion plan or emer­gency instruc­tions in case of an emer­gency. Even though it’s not a cheer­ful top­ic to dis­cuss, it’s impor­tant that you com­pile all the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion so that your farm can keep going with­out you in an emer­gency. The emer­gency instruc­tions should name a per­son that you trust that should be con­tact­ed in an emer­gency – just in case some­thing hap­pens to you or one of your employ­ees. It’s also a good idea to note down the con­tact per­sons for the farm at your insur­ance provider, bank, etc. Who is the autho­rised doc­tor? Who knows about a pow­er of attor­ney?

While hav­ing an emer­gency plan like this is impor­tant, it doesn’t replace a proac­tive, tar­get­ed instruc­tion of inter­nal and exter­nal trust­ed per­sons on the farm’s oper­a­tional process­es and infor­ma­tion.

5. Print out the rel­e­vant doc­u­ments and file them away

While many aim to have a paper­less office. There are some doc­u­ments that you do need to keep a paper copy of. For farms, these include notar­i­al con­tracts, open­ing bal­ance sheets and annu­al finan­cial state­ments.

The “Prin­ci­ples for prop­er­ly main­tain­ing and stor­ing books, records and doc­u­ments in elec­tron­ic form and for data access” (GoBD) explains how you must store oth­er doc­u­ments accord­ing to their oblig­a­tion to pre­serve records: Stor­ing doc­u­ments means that the doc­u­ments must be in order or find­able and must be made avail­able for third par­ties to read and ver­i­fy with­in a rea­son­able time. In addi­tion, the doc­u­ments must be stored some­where where they are safe from fire, flood­ing and water dam­age.

It is impor­tant to men­tion that the stor­age peri­od for a doc­u­ment starts at the end of the cal­en­dar year in which the doc­u­ment was cre­at­ed. If you are unsure as to whether a doc­u­ment must be stored in its orig­i­nal form or not, it’s best to check with your accoun­tant or tax advis­er.

With 365FarmNet, you can print out and file impor­tant doc­u­ments, like cross-com­pli­ance evi­dence. You can also save this infor­ma­tion in dig­i­tal form as PDF files to reduce paper­work.

6. Sort out and throw away any doc­u­ments that you don’t need

Now you should get rid of any doc­u­ments that do not fall under Tip 4 and that you don’t want to keep or that you don’t need to keep for an impor­tant rea­son. You can also scan in any doc­u­ments that you want to keep and then throw away the “paper ver­sion”.

An impor­tant step on the road to a paper­less office is the dig­i­tal field cat­a­logue. 365FarmNet makes it easy for you to get start­ed with the free basic pack­age.

7. To-do lists and dai­ly plan­ners are a great way to keep an eye on tasks, dead­lines and appoint­ments

The best way to stop office work from pil­ing up is to set aside time to do it and include this time in your cal­en­dar. If you set time aside to deal with your doc­u­ments more fre­quent­ly, often a 30 to 60 minute ses­sion is more than enough. You can even doc­u­ment your activ­i­ties in the fields direct­ly with the 365Crop app.

It’s also a good idea to add any statu­to­ry dead­lines, e.g. for sub­mit­ting appli­ca­tions, to your cal­en­dar along with a reminder well before the dead­line so that you have plen­ty of time to get the task done.

8. 60:40 rule – plan some buffer time for any unfore­seen

The idea behind the 60:40 rule is that you should only ever plan 60% of your avail­able time. You should leave the oth­er 40% free as a “buffer” for spon­ta­neous rep­re­sen­ta­tive vis­its, unfore­seen calls, unplanned repairs, etc.

To apply this rule, it’s a good idea to start by work­ing out how much time you need for the recur­ring activ­i­ties that you have to do day each day or week. You might be sur­prised by how much time these activ­i­ties take up.

9. Eat-That-Frog method – do your least favourite job

The Eat-That-Frog method was thought up by Bri­an Tra­cy and is a method that helps peo­ple to over­come pro­cras­ti­na­tion. Often, impor­tant but unpleas­ant tasks are put off until they become urgent. They go around and around in your head and can cause lots of stress until they are final­ly com­plet­ed. To apply this method, you should cre­ate a list of tasks that have been left lying around over the sum­mer or that you have per­haps been want­i­ng to do for a long time.

Now do one task from the list at the start of every day. This means that your thoughts do not revolve around the unpleas­ant “To do” task for the rest of the day and you can cross some­thing off your list first thing in the morn­ing and (hope­ful­ly) feel a lit­tle relieved. Do this every day until you’ve crossed every­thing off your list. With no ifs or buts.

If you want to improve your time man­age­ment and be more pro­duc­tive, it might be help­ful to set some goals for your­self or your farm. Once you’ve iden­ti­fied what you want to achieve in the short, medi­um or long term, it will be eas­i­er for you to car­ry out the actions need­ed to meet these goals. To do this you can ask your­self the fol­low­ing ques­tions:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • How much do I want to achieve and how can I mea­sure this?
  • Why do I want to achieve this goal?
  • When do I want to have achieved this goal by?
  • How do I want to achieve this goal?

Just make sure to always write down your goals. Once you have not­ed down your goals you can then add tasks and mile­stones to them. The author Bri­an Tra­cy rec­om­mends using the A‑B-C-D‑E method to pri­ori­tise your tasks:

  • A: Most impor­tant and must be com­plet­ed imme­di­ate­ly oth­er­wise there is a risk of neg­a­tive con­se­quences
  • B: Impor­tant but can be com­plet­ed after A tasks, as the con­se­quences of non-com­ple­tion are less extreme
  • C: Can be com­plet­ed after A and B tasks, the non-com­ple­tion of C tasks does not have any seri­ous con­se­quences
  • D: Needs to be done but should be del­e­gat­ed imme­di­ate­ly if pos­si­ble so that you can focus on the real­ly impor­tant things
  • E: Is not rel­e­vant for the suc­cess of the project and should be com­plet­ed as quick­ly as pos­si­ble

10. Decide which tasks you can or want to hand over to some­one else to do – either to a tax office or an admin­is­tra­tive assis­tant

If you notice that your office work is mak­ing you stressed and that the pile of papers in your office is get­ting big­ger and big­ger, then it might be a good idea to del­e­gate this work either inter­nal­ly or exter­nal­ly. For exam­ple, you could employ an admin­is­tra­tive assis­tant to sup­port you on a reg­u­lar basis or you could hand over recur­ring tasks to a ser­vice provider. You should do this for Cat­e­go­ry D tasks from Tip 9. By doing this, you will ulti­mate­ly have more time and ener­gy for oth­er tasks and maybe even some extra free time.

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