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Find your focus

Published on 29 December 2017

A little over a year ago, I wrote about dairy producer Hank Wagner who says learning should never end. In addition, he suggests everyone take the time to read a bit every day.

While I don’t always find the time to read something beyond my regular work responsibilities each day, I have tried to read one book each month.

Throughout the year, I have gravitated toward books about productivity and making the most of 24 hours a day. Many of them start out stating that in order to achieve what you want, you must first define what you want.

With the new year comes forming resolutions, setting goals and defining what you’d like to see happen in 2018. A commonly stated statistic is that only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions, so how can you beat the odds this year? According to what I’ve been reading, one trick is to narrow your focus.

In reading work by Ruth Soukup, a writer, blogger and entrepreneur best known for her blog Living Well, Spending Less, she encourages people to dream big and start by creating a long list of everything they want to accomplish.

However, she then suggests to only pick a few things for the year. This way you focus on the most important areas and don’t get bogged down with everything else.

Another author, whom I can’t seem to recall, said you could accomplish even more when you focus on a single goal at a time. If you put all of your efforts into achieving one goal, you can complete it faster and then move on to your next goal.

By zeroing their focus on one item, they could put more time and effort into it than if they were trying to do multiple tasks at once – some that might even compromise the other.

While these writers were providing examples on how this method can work for personal goals, I think it is also applicable for farming operations. I’ve heard a number of farmers list of a handful of goals they are working on at any given time – gaining production, increasing pregnancy rate, reducing somatic cell count, etc.

These are all good and important goals, but each one requires constant attention in more than one area on the farm. Let’s take reducing somatic cell count as an example.

Improvements here mean you are going to try to focus on the milking equipment, milking procedure, cleanliness during milking, barn and stall cleanliness, bedding type, milk sampling, treatment protocols and cull selection, to name a few. How much time can you truly commit to really dig into each of these items if you have similar lengthy lists for your other farm goals?

What if you picked just one goal for your farm and committed 100 percent focus to it? This doesn’t mean you drop the ball and give up on all of your regular important tasks.

Just because you are not focusing on improving herd reproduction, doesn’t mean you don’t spend any time on heat detection each day. This is more to focus your efforts during your “spare” time.

It can also help your employees find their focus and do a better job in a single area rather than an average job in several areas.

Once you achieve your first goal, you can move on to your next goal with as much concentration.

As we start 2018, I encourage you to define your focus for the year. Pick that one goal and see how fast you can achieve it with 100 percent intensity.

Happy New Year!  end mark

Karen Lee
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