I saw a post on social media the other day that said, “OK, Christmas is over. I’m ready for summer.” That got me wondering if post-holiday depression is a real thing (spoiler: it is), and how many people it affects. According to Psych Central, a leading mental health website, as many as 25 percent of Americans suffer from depression, ranging in severity, after the holidays.
I would guess that especially for dairy farmers, being out in the cold daily without the festive greenery and twinkling lights can lead to some dreariness. But before you start wishing away these winter days in favor of warmer weather, here are some ideas to take advantage of what may be the closest thing to downtime you have on a dairy.
1. Tackle a project
Maybe it’s getting your finances in order, typing up new SOPs or developing a new calf care protocol. Whatever it may be, take advantage of the time indoors to tick off a big task on your to-do list.
Most organizational resources will tell you to break up a big project into smaller chunks or individual to-dos, so that as you accomplish each one, you remain motivated to complete the entire task.
2. Attend a conference
Chances are good you have a pile of flyers and an inbox full of event invites. This time of year isn’t known as meeting season for nothing. If you need a few ideas, check our calendar by clicking here.
Beyond the obvious benefit of gaining new knowledge to take back to your dairy, there’s just as much of a benefit in networking with colleagues in the industry. I look forward to attending the Pennsylvania Dairy Summit each year. (Pennsylvania's 2017 Dairy Summit promises to raise the bar.) Not only do I obtain lots of great content and story ideas for the publication, but I also have the chance to reconnect with former co-workers and friends who I simply don’t get to see enough of throughout the year.
If a particular event or conference doesn’t appeal to you, consider inviting an employee or two to attend in your place. A speaker may provide a new way to look at something on the dairy that you have been struggling to convey.
3. Take a vacation
Yes, I know it is extremely difficult for a dairy farmer to take a vacation. But even a one- or two-night getaway could do wonders for you and your family and provide you with a renewed sense of purpose for your operation.
Even if a getaway isn’t in the cards for this year, you and your family may benefit from planning a trip for the future. Look up places to stay, activities to do and restaurants to try. Make an itinerary and outline a plan for how you’ll save and rearrange work schedules so that you can get this time away.
It will give something for everyone to look forward to and work toward. Planning a trip is one of my very favorite hobbies, and anyone who has traveled with me would tell you that the time invested in research ahead of time is well worth it in the experiences and memories made.
4. Try out a new solution
If you’ve been eyeing up a new product or service on the market, the winter months may provide you with the time to take your research to the next level and even give it a trial run. Turn to (Large-herd dairy to test-drive could-based herd management software) to find out what a dairy in California is doing to test cloud-based software.
5. Invest the time in your team
Use the list of 12 questions and statements provided by Jorge Estrada (Your management philosophy impacts how employees behave toward the job and the dairy) to gauge employee engagement on your operation. Capitalize on this less hectic time to develop enhanced training materials and help your team increase their skill set.
Estrada says employees should be individually recognized once every seven days. Make the effort now and figure out a way to implement a system so that you’re making your employees feel valued, appreciated and important on a weekly basis.
There might not be time or resources to accomplish all of these ideas on your operation, but hopefully this list has provided you with at least one objective to get you through the next few months. Stay warm, everyone!
- Progressive Dairyman
- Email Emily Caldwell