While different in function and scope, writing a governance document is similar to writing a sound business plan in that it takes focus and organization to distill your goals into clear terms. This generally entails research, brainstorming, discussion, tracking ideas, and writing down different iterations of those ideas and evolving agreements before creating the final governance document.

Is organization something you struggle with when it comes to paperwork?

  • If this is an area where you struggle, don’t worry! This is a good opportunity to strengthen your note taking and record keeping skills towards increasing your farm or ranch’s legal resilience.
  • If not, then this is an opportunity for your skills to shine as you organize priorities, ideas, needs, and goals into your governance document.

Working as a team: Is this a realm where your business partner(s) struggle? If so, identify 2-3 concrete ways you can collaborate through this process, or make a plan to share the tips below.

Here are some tips to stay organized:

1) Find a workflow: identify a workflow that resonates with all business partner(s). Referring to existing patterns of work on the farm or ranch can be helpful here. Perhaps the person who manages the bookkeeping would be the best person to set up a physical or digital folder where that person is responsible for keeping track of notes, meeting schedules, agendas, and recording ideas and decisions generated by using this workbook? Or, perhaps each of you keeps track of different elements in a shared folder so that no one has to carry the administrative load by themselves? Or it may work best for one person to administer this process while the other(s) show up to meetings and do tasks when they’re told. Working relationships all have different workflows. Choose what works best for you and your business partner(s).

2) Choose your “paper” trail: the process of creating a governance document includes a good chunk of writing down thoughts and ideas, as well as terms of agreement. How do you want your paper trail to look? What do you need to support your thought process? Identify your preferred style below:

pencil drawing a line icon

Paper and pen

Writing things down on paper fulfills your need to physically write out thoughts and ideas where everything can be captured on the page. Pick a notebook specifically for preparing your governance document and record all your notes in there. Use loose leaf paper and a folder to hold your paper trail of to-do lists, schedule, meeting agendas, and records of ideas and agreements, as well as rough governance document drafts. Once you’re ready, type up your paper terms into a word document for review and signing, saving the notebook/papers for reference on your thought process if you ever need it.


Organizing ideas and thoughts into a word document works best for you, where you can quickly format your notes into bulleted lists, group under headings, and share with collaborators for commenting and co-working. Set up a digital folder system to house your paper trail, including brainstorming, schedules, meeting agendas, draft terms, and, eventually, the final governance document draft for review and signing. Create digital folder systems to house documents by content type: ideas, schedules, meeting agendas, meeting notes, draft terms, and, eventually, the final governance document for review and signing.

3) Time management: While our brain power is limited, we can use this fact to our advantage. Research shows that taking a break after 30 to 90 minutes of effortful focus can improve problem solving and increase creativity. Rather than working on your governance document until you get tired of it, get strategic with your time and optimize your energy levels by taking a 7 to 30 minute break before diving back in. Assign a timekeeper to help everyone stay on track as you work through tasks together.

Use a timer! For more support, try the free online Pomodoro Tracker, which is a time management tool that can be used for any task. It includes a clock timer and a customizable task list. The timer works in 25 minute increments, called a “pomodoro,” where you can assign multiple pomodoros individual tasks. For example, you could work on identifying business priorities for 2 pomodoros = 50 minutes. At the end of that time, take a break before starting the timer again. Remember, what gets measured gets managed.

Now let’s get started!