Thriving in the Busy Season

By Alex Tolbert   |   Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA

I need to register those heifers. I wonder if those DNA tests have come back. We’ve got to finalize that guest list, and what are we going to serve? Where are we going to live? I’ve got to see how they want to advertise their sale this year. I’ve got to outline an agenda for the AngusSource® meeting. … Will it work? Who’s going to cover that sale for me? Who can I get to go to that meeting? I’ve got to get the article done for the Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA, the script for Boot Camp, my two presentations for Boot Camp … that’s coming up … fast. I forgot to pay that bill. Did I write Jack a thank you? Wait. … Did I call Hannah?

All I want to do is sleep, just for a few hours.

It’s no secret that in today’s society we are pulled, called and stretched in all directions. What matters? What’s important? Where do we devote our time? When do we say no? How do we get it all done? How do we keep our sanity and maintain relationships? Off our minds go in a million directions again.

These are good questions, and I don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. What I know is that’s where I am right now, and in my estimation, I’m not alone. In the last couple of months my responsibilities have grown, my priorities have evolved, and to say that I’ve got it figured out … well … I’m better than I was. Maybe? Hopefully? Time will tell, but no doubt I’ve grown and continue to grow, and I am thankful for that.

What I am learning is the importance of all those things I heard growing up: Plan, prioritize, purpose, etc. As I struggle to put these things into practice, it’s becoming evident that it’s a process. While I’m busy sorting it all out, there are as many distractions as there are tasks, and what’s more, the “distractions” are good things.

For my role as regional manager, there are endless projects to keep me busy and productive. The hard part is defining a direction, identifying a focus and establishing priorities, developing a plan, and making my calendar match my priorities. This is hard for a laid-back guy like me; it’s hard to type that — even as I pen this article I am constantly having to revert back to my purpose and go through the process to make this make sense without rambling. In those moments, the guy who’s completely content going with the flow, has to ask the question: What is best?

Here’s my simple version:

  • Define a direction;
  • Establish priorities;
  • Make a plan; and
  • Ask what’s best.

This is certainly not a comprehensive list and not necessarily in order of importance; they are intermingled at times. What I have found is this process is the same for making breeding decisions, for buying bulls, for managing a schedule and for managing finances. Determine what’s important, focus on those things, and fit in what you can of the rest.

I know some of you out there have no problem with this and let me say, we honor you. For the rest of us on Planet Earth, maybe we never master it, but we learn to manage how we handle it. No matter what method works for you, no matter how detailed or how casual your plan is, and no matter if we are talking about our operation, our breeding program, or just life in general: Have a direction, define your priorities and make sure each activity has a purpose that plays back into your priorities and, somehow, your plan.

At some time in the future make sure you re-evaluate and make adjustments where needed. Regardless of the details, this basic process can walk you through anything. We learned it growing up; we practiced it judging livestock. The effectiveness and the outcome, however, always hinge on the direction you’re heading. Take a moment each morning to get your compass set back to true North.

But the Lord answered her “Martha, Martha you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42

Editor’s Note: Alex Tolbert is the regional manager for Region 3, including Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. Click here to find the regional manager for your state.