Founders of The Cake Professionals, Phil and Christine Jensen, are back with more words of wisdom! Over to them…
Spoiler alert… There’s no such thing as ‘work/life balance’. Sorry. If we’re hoping for a full order book of perfectly put together cakes, eight hours of sleep a night all year round and despicably happy family members who have each had a healthy slice of time and attention from us, we’re dreaming.
Something has to give, and it’ll likely be us (and our sleep allowance) that has to take the fall. We all have 24 hours a day – sadly no more, but we get to choose how we use them.
1. Manage your focus
There’s a brilliant story that used to be told about life being like a collection of stones. Big important ones, medium ones, tiny ones, plus a whole bunch of sand and water. The sand and water are the thousands of things we really have to do, but they aren’t the things that make life worth living. However, ALL of it has to get put in the jar of our limited time on the planet.
The tricky thing is, how to get it all in? Pour all the sand and water in and there’s absolutely no room for all the big important stones, which is where the punchline comes in… put the big rocks in first. Genius. All the rest fits around the big ones with a bit of jiggling, but no way will everything fit if the thousands of little things take priority. Always big stones first.
So, what are the big stones? Is it growing your business to earn £15,000 a year? Or making sure your aging aunt gets the support she needs? Or helping your children adjust to the new school rhythm? Or giving space for a new relationship? No one can tell us what the big stones are this month, or this year, but for the sake of our actual lives (the thing that will be remembered after we’re gone), it’s essential we make sure we know what the big stones are and intentionally keep them central in your focus.
2. Manage your time
“It’s super important to know that we 100% won’t be able to do all the things! Accepting that is a ticket to freedom.”
We know (despite our best efforts) we can’t do everything at once. If we’re on a night out with friends, we can’t be making a cake. If we’re delivering a dessert table of treats, we can’t be soothing a poorly child. It’s the harsh reality of being human!
So how do we make sure we do all the things we have the potential of actually doing? Hello planner!
Having a daily or weekly diary gives you the chance to plan out the time you have between the tasks you have. That way you can give yourself permission to play, and buckle down to do the work before the deadline arrives. In the midst of the planner, remember, our work can be seasonal – which can mean more time for family and for admin tasks over autumn and winter, and more time for cakes and clients over spring and summer. Not every cake business works this way, but many do.
Top tip! Do all you can to clear one mess before you make another. Whether it be taxes, delivery mop up or client conversations, you’ll thank yourself later. Trust us.
Planners also give you a chance to prioritise when you won’t be working. To block time out for holidays, rest and refuelling. More on that later…
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3. Manage your spaces
Many self-employed cake makers have the joy of starting their cake careers from home. After all, the kitchen is the heart of the business. However, this reality becomes a little trickier when that same kitchen is used for different purposes throughout the day or week, or by different people.
Work/life balance is not simply about the kitchen, but the kitchen is a great highlighter of the issues of running a business yourself. Living with other people means there are valid and important intrusions on our work spaces. It’s a space for homework, food preparation, meltdowns, decision making and the ever-present pile of dishes – life happens in the kitchen! Balancing the needs of our cake businesses with the demands on our kitchen space is a juggling act. If you’re able, (and we would recommend this wholeheartedly) create a separate space for your cake making area and storage. As your business grows, you’ll appreciate this corner you’ve made where everything is clean and tidy and just as you left it. You’ll work much more efficiently.
Separate physical space has a way of giving you separate head space from the household tasks.
4. Manage your availability
Separate space also has the added advantage of letting others in the household know you’re not available to them at that moment because you’re at work.
When Christine first started her business, she would put on a very distinctive apron – her ‘work’ apron – which meant that the kitchen was not for coming into… at all! She even put it on to do admin work because it worked so well as a clear sign she was not to be disturbed.
Out of office responses and switched off phones are also a gift to a more regulated life. They help us focus on the important non-work parts of living without distraction.
Running a home and a business is a juggle but we can control how manic the juggling is! These are just a few suggestions on how to take a bit of control.
Read more great business advice from the series, including how to transition from cake hobby to business, how to protect your wellbeing as a cake business owner and how to name your cake business.