Scheduled Happiness

I regularly read Facebook posts from friends who do cakes at home. The majority of them seem to constantly be posting about how many hours in a row they had to work or how many days they went without sleep. I have been this person in my cake life. It is incredibly hard physically, emotionally and mentally to put yourself in this situation week after week.

I worry that many of you are just one rough weekend away from burnout. Or a health crisis. Or a very bitter, neglected family. I worry that you, my friends, have started to lose your happiness.

Today’s blog is about scheduled happiness. As in an earlier blog, I will point to control as the source of the problem. When decorators work for a person or shop, they typically have designated hours they are expected to be at work. I find that people working on their own only rarely keep to a designated schedule for their tasks.

This is my suggestion to those of you baking at home: create a work schedule. Stick to the schedule. Post it so your family knows when you are “at work”. There are 7 possible work days. I recommend that you choose two designated days off. You do not meet with clients on these days. You do not answer emails or take calls about cakes those days. That is your time to refresh, renew and have fun again. These days are sacred and you do not give them up unless someone is paying you incredibly well for working on your day off. If you have a website or Facebook page for your shop, you post these days off on them. It will take a bit to retrain your customers, but the joy of these two days off will make up for the effort.

Now, of the five remaining days, one to three should be for baking and making icing. While cakes are in the oven, you need to start making any flowers, bows, logos, figures or other pieces that you can get out of the way. Figure out how many hours per day are work hours and block those off for these tasks. Set guidelines for your required notice and make sure that fits within your schedule. Set a deadline for flavor and size changes that fits this schedule, also.

Here’s the problem when we are our own boss. No one polices us. It is incredibly easy to procrastinate and push the baking or icing off to later. You will tell yourself that you deserve more time with the kids, or to go out with your friend or whatever. Yes, you can occasionally bend your rules, but try to follow them for 30 days before you start doing any bending. It takes 30 days to establish a habit and this is essentially going to be your new cake business habit.

Set aside a particular time or two during your 5 work days for emails, consults and phone calls. Stick to it. Screen your calls. Answer the messages during your designated work time.

Then give yourself a couple of decorating days. Most home orders seem to go out on Fridays and Saturdays. Schedule your decorating time according to your busy days. Stick to it. If you have daily orders, you will need to block certain daily hours for decorating. Block off certain hours that your family leaves you alone to decorate. This will make it so much easier for you to focus on just the cakes and give them the attention they deserve. Ok single moms, I know this will be hard, but your time might need to be early mornings or nights after the kids go to bed.

I am not telling you to work 9 to 5, rather to design a schedule that fits your life. If you work another job and cannot work on cakes until night, you need a schedule even more! You have to block in family/you time and time for working on your orders. Sometimes your schedule will not be needed because you have fewer orders. That is fine. Either take an extra full day off or give yourself a shorter schedule the other days.

There are going to be evil weeks when there are more orders than usual…figure out where you are going to allocate your “overtime”. Think of it as overtime, also and about whether you are being paid sufficiently extra for the extra hours you are working. Think about hiring someone to help you out on those busy weeks. I know it is money out of your pocket, but you really need to think about what your health and happiness are worth.

If you find yourself constantly battling colds, flus, injuries etc., your body is sending you a message. It is doing its best to scream at you that your current method for getting orders out the door is not working. Stress causes a ridiculous number of diseases and health issues. Pushing everything to the last minute every weekend takes a toll. You will end up so tired that mistakes go from “possible” to “likely”. If you keep finding yourself having to re-bake cakes that were the wrong size, re-ice cakes that were the wrong color or you are making orders on the wrong day…I am talking to you.

Each of my blog readers is important to me and I KNOW you are crucial to someone else. The people that care about you want you to find an easier way to get through your orders. I hope with all my heart that you guys will give scheduled happiness a try.


8 thoughts on “Scheduled Happiness

  1. I am loving your blog, Ruth! I’m a school counselor and make cakes on the side. Last summer I was so busy with cakes. I’d wake up and get at it nearly every day. I’d find myself looking out the back window longing to get in the pool (my favorite pass time in the summer = reading while floating). Then school started. My evenings after work (I get home around 5 p.m.) went like this: Mon. night get ready for cake class on Tues. night (I teach), and make fondant or icing. Tues. night cake class (5:20-9:30). Wed. night church, make cakes before, after or both. Thurs. night decorate or make fondant and rest of cake. Fri. deliver (take to school for pick up or drop off on the way) or finish decorating and put in freezer/fridge for Sat. pickup. I rarely had a moment! Sat. I might start again once everything was cleaned up if I had multiple orders for the week. Sun. inbetween church and after church then became more caking time. I love the creativity and variety in caking. However, I am in such a burned out state thatI made a decision. Once my last cake was finsihed in Dec. (right before Christmas) I had to take some time off. I had committed to a wedding cake in March and no others. I’ve made a cake or two for dinners at church and a few cookies. I’ve been telling everyone wanting to order that it doesn’t fit into my schedule on that certain date or I’m busy. I’m still teaching cake class so Mon. and Tues. nights are the same, as is church Sun. and Wed. However, I’m SO enjoying the other days of NO CAKES! My kitchen (and whole house really) are no longer needing scrubbed top to bottom multiple times daily because it’s staying clean (lack of caking). I know I’ll catch the creative bug again or see something amazing and want to see if I can replicate it or want to stretch my abilities. However, right now, I’m enjoying what free time I have without the powdered sugar “addiction”!

    • Another note I learned from Geraldine Randlesome…never take on a project that is too large and you are not getting paid enough for they can always “have donuts for their wedding if they are looking for a deal” your time is valuable… Don’t forget about appreciating your self your an artist after all!

  2. Another great blog! As a known procrastination expert, I have worked long and hard to get my self organized, and it continues to be a work in progress.
    Thank you for your words of wisdom.

  3. Thanks Ruth for a great blog! Over a year ago, I had to finally make the decision to make time for myself and family. I found myself with too many migrane headaches and joint pains for not getting enough sleep and standing on my feet for long periods of time. I would work 8-9 hours at my full-time job and come home cook dinner for my family and start on my cakes. This would take me deep into the next early morning with 3-4 hours of sleep, and off to work I would go again. If you keep this shedule up for 7 days a week over a couple of months or year, your body will eventually tell you something is not right. With a stressful job and dealing with customers, family and other personal problems, I decided to make a schedule for myself, I now take off (2) days a week and work only 5-6 hours a day for caking. I even schedule vacation time with family and friends and enjoy what life have to offer. With this change, I do not suffer anymore from the headaches and joint pains and I try to keep a smile on my face everyday. Thanks again for sharing!

  4. I agree with all of the followers above! Being your own boss is something everyone dreams about but it is not so easy! It is a hard thing to get used to! I consider myself a pretty self disciplined person and boy – was I in for a shock! I am still struggling with it due to the fact my business is sporatic because it’s new so I may only have a few cakes a month at this point so it’s SOO easy to slip back into habits! The one thing I make sure I do and HIGHLY recommend is NO ALL NIGHTERS!!!! I know some people work a full time job – I work on weekends – But I made one promise to myself and that is 8 hours in bed each night – and I stick to it! I do feel better doing this – my fuse isn’t so short – the other thing that helps is I try to remind myself how blessed and grateful I am to have what I have – sometimes keeping your perspective positive make a world of difference! Have a great day everyone!

  5. Thank you for this blog! Great advice! I am definitely saving this to my favorites. I am so glad you decided to start blogging Ruth. It has been a source of inspiration and encouragment and I look forward to reading every post.

  6. I never thought about this. You are so right! I love reading all of your blogs. I am sooooo happy you started sugarzen! 🙂 So much great food for thought!

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