Learn to harness the power of a free hour

Robyn Pearce, the "queen of time management", will show hundreds of busy dairying women how to "get a grip" on their priorities and be the "master of their time" when she speaks at the Dairy Women's Network annual conference in Nelson, on March 20 and 21.

Pearce is an international expert in time management - she grew up on her parents' South Rotorua dairy farm, was married to a Waikato sheep farmer for 15 years and is the mother of a sheep and beef farmer who is also a director of Beef + Lamb NZ.

She has raised six children, including her intellectually handicapped foster son, and has 16 grandchildren.

As well as training, writing, blogging and speaking about time management in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Britain, Europe and the Middle East, Pearce's rural family background means she understands the everyday challenges dairying women face.

"Farm production and productivity is very much geared towards land and animal outputs, but how we manage our time also affects the bottom line. If we're not productive that will be reflected in the farm's productivity and, more importantly, if things are really out of control, the well-being of our family and our own health can suffer."

She is a regular columnist in New Zealand media, and admits the reason she teaches time management is because she used to be "very bad at it".

"I can honestly say I have walked in those shoes. My time-management skills almost put an end to my real-estate career in the 80s and 90s. I was kicked out of meetings because of being late and I burned out numerous times from overwork and poor time habits. I really do understand how it feels to be out of control."

Thankfully, a friend cared enough to give her a push to adopt basic time-management principles, igniting Pearce's passion for the subject and transforming her greatest weakness into her strength.

Today she helps large national and international corporates train employees to better manage their time, including Rabobank, QBE Insurance, National Bank, Niwa, the International Cricket Council, Dubai Academy for Chief Executives and Beiersdorf Australia and New Zealand (makers of Nivea and Elastoplast), to name a few.

She says overload is felt in all walks of life - and it's as prevalent on the farm as it is in the corporate world. "When you are overloaded you'll look around your kitchen, your office, your paddock or shed, and you'll feel like you don't know where to start. It's at these times, as things keep flying at you, that it's really important to know what to take on and what to push back on.

"I love showing people how to do 'helicopter thinking' - to rise above everything going on, get perspective, and then work on the tasks and projects that will make the greatest difference."

She says the Dairy Women's Network conference is an opportunity for people to take the time to reflect on the things in their lives that really matter.

"We all don't take the time to work on prioritising the really important things in our lives in a meaningful way -

... We need to be sure that we are always only putting time and energy into the things that are going to make the biggest difference."

Joining Pearce at the conference is a world-class lineup of speakers including Olympian Mahe Drysdale, Minister of Women's Affairs Jo Goodhew, Parininihi Ki Waitotara Farms trustee Hinerangi Edwards, and Blue Duck Station owner and ecowarrior Dan Steele.

The conference theme is "Taking down the Boundary Fences" and will cover subjects as diverse as animal nutrition, environmental constraints and developing future leaders.

Visit www.dwn.co.nz.

- Hamilton News

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