If You Ignore the Little Tasks too Long, They’ll Become Huge [Editorial]

If You Ignore the Little Tasks too Long, They’ll Become Huge [Editorial]

We Americans have definite ideas about blame. We’re quick to accuse society’s ills — like addiction, obesity, or poverty — on the individual and his or her lack of will power.

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From reading several news reports over the past few months, it’s easy to see how that public mindset affects the vegetable industry, too. Caught with illegals on your crew? The public narrative will be you lacked the will to do a thorough background check. Water is in short supply? You, the greedy grower, are taking more than your fair share.

It’s funny how some of the news stories that lead to poor publicity stem from small, unimportant tasks left undone for too long.

Here’s an example. One task that’s deemed unimportant by many of you is spending time on your own publicity. It’s easy to understand why. Sharing your story with the public — helping them understand the challenges you face and reminding them of the importance of what you do in their lives — will do nothing to help you get the crop in the ground faster. It won’t help you pass your food safety inspection, or harvest your crops.

So many of you probably decide it can wait until you have more time. And you know you’ll have a lot of downtime come… Oh, let’s be honest. You’ll never have time.

Designate Time for the Non-Urgent Stuff

We all have issues where we do a dance to avoid taking time to handle them. And the busier you are (and I don’t know a single grower who works a mere 40-hour week), the easier it is to dance so fast you rarely think of those neglected issues.

Our company has a tradition that struck me as silly when I first came on board: team cleaning day. On a designated day, meetings and work are put on hold so everyone can clean up their work space.

Now I rely on that day. I accumulate marked-up pages, past magazine issues, and mail throughout the year. I intend to tidy it up, but the piles keep growing as I rush from one task to the next. That team clean day forces me to handle the neglected, if minor, things I’ve put off.

Everyone has those neglected, seemingly insignificant things they ignore in favor of the more important. But if you ignore them long enough, insignificant tasks often slide into being major problems.

Take a step back from your busy schedule, and set a time for you and your employees to tackle what needs attention on the farm. Maybe it’s finding incentives to attract labor, improving traceability with GPS, or helping change the public’s mind about farming.

These tasks usually aren’t urgent, but you can’t deny they’re important. The only way this will happen is if you stop and do them.