If you run your cake business from home, and feel like all you ever do is work, this blog post is for you.
I only briefly considered working starting my bakery from home. I knew that working from home wasn’t for me. At the time I had toddler triplets, not a whole lot of kitchen bench space, and even as a hobbyist it felt like my cake “stuff” was taking over every spare inch of space we had in our laundry (and some not-so-spare inches.) I desperately wanted space to call my own, where little fingers did not get into the icing and I could see my whole cookie cutter collection at once. My business started at home but only stayed there for a brief amount of time before moving into commercial premises. When I sold the business and started full time blogging, I suddenly found myself working from home again – right back where I didn’t want to be.
It took me about six months to readjust to working from home and resist the siren song of the fridge which would call to me every ten minutes, the silent scream of the laundry which needed to be removed from the machine RIGHT NOW or the episode of Ellen which featured those cute English girls who sing pop songs. (You know, all the important stuff in life.) Now that I’ve found my way to working efficiently from home, I’ve learned to love it. Along the way from fridge warrior to efficient business babe, I’ve also learned some “home truths” about the experience:
- While I think it’s great to be able to shower at noon, go out for chai with my bestie in the middle of the morning, or just kinda float my way through the day…that means stuff doesn’t ever get done. As long as I live that, “Yeah, whatevs, my time is my own and so fffrreeee!” attitude, it means I end up working at night and feeling like the work NEVER. ACTUALLY. ENDS. I end up feeling like I work 24/7 and burnt out and resentful. Many cake makers feel the same way, that it’s an endless loop of working. I think we feel that way because we do not have a clear enough break between what is work time and what is home time. Accept there will be a BIT of overlap, but you have got to make solid, clear breaks between what is your work time and what is your home time, even if “work time” is also known as “kid’s nap time” in your house. Separate those two – no laundry while it’s work time, no emailing clients when it’s home time. Setting up social media posts for the week is work time, but flicking through your Instagram feed for fun is home time.
- Daylight hours should still be our working hours. The discipline around this is really important because it’s creating a routine and giving structure to my day but it’s also TEACHING MY CLIENTS that I am not available to them 24/7. If they get used to receiving emails at 9pm, they expect to be answered at whatever time they message me. I get around this by having a defined work day. Come 4pm, the computer is turned off – and my clients know it because I don’t answer AND my email away message shows them my working hours.
- At home, distractions need to be dealt with in an extreme way – kill those bastards dead. So if I have a task that requires real focus and attention, I turn my phone on silent and then I put it in another room (so I’m not tempted to look at it.) I won’t put a load of laundry on (no beeping machine!), will bring a snack and drink into my work space (no fridge calling me), and basically I make sure there is nothing to lure me away from the task at hand.
- Planning keeps me from drinking too much. Each week on a Sunday night I sit and block out the details of my work time, so I know what is going to get done during those work hours. Especially when you don’t have many work hours available to you, you’ve got to be really, really smart about how you’re going to spend them. Don’t ever sit down at a computer or a kitchen bench without a solid plan for how you’ll be spending your time there. Without knowing what I’m going to be using my time for, I end up wasting time and drinking too much tea and just…flapping about.
- Check it off! – One of the reasons we feel we are always working is because we ‘cherry pick’ tasks. We sent an email or two, respond to an Instagram message, then maybe add new pictures to our website, then answer another email, then… argh, shit, it’s midnight again! It’s like we’ve developed business ADHD! Ooooh, shiny! The way to get around this – make a solid list of what needs to get done. Block out the time to do it (as in #4) and then do not let your butt leave the office chair or the kitchen bench until that job is done to the point of being able to mark it off the list. DONE. Batch together the similar work and get all the same stuff done in one shot. So it’s not “ganache one cake” it’s “ganache ALL of this week’s cakes.” BOOM. DONE.
What do you think about working from home? Do you love it? Hate it? In the comments, let me know if you’ve got any genius productivity tips – I’d love to know how you make working from home work for you.
UPCOMING WEBINAR: Join me on Feb 29th for a webinar which takes this topic even further, including how to make more money from a home-based cake business when it’s just you doing all the work. For more information and to join this webinar: click here.