How To Schedule Your Week For Success

You might think that because I’m a self-employed cake decorator, I must have a super flexible schedule.

Well, you’re right and you’re wrong.

The truth is, I am ruled by one thing (ok maybe two things) My calendar and my daughter.

Everything I do is scheduled. That might sound like a lot of work but really, it takes all the work out of it.

If I need to pay a bill, I put it on the calendar. Birthday party? On the calendar. Project due? Not only do I put that on the calendar but I also schedule out what I’m going to work on every day leading up to the due date so I don’t procrastinate and get stressed at the last minute.

Setting Priorities (Big and Little)

So how do I make sense of this crazy calendar full of THINGS TO DO?

I set big priorities and little ones.

When I wake up, I drink my coffee, check my calendar and see what one thing I need to do today. Just one. Then I map out the little things that will help me to get that big thing done. Then I mentally prepare for going shopping, baking, or doing whatever I need to do to get that one task done.

I will also look ahead to see what upcoming due dates are happening like cake shows, classes or tutorial releases to make sure I’m not forgetting something important.

I think the main thing I do that makes me feel the most success is that I plan to get one thing done per day.

I will also think of things that I can get done at the same time that are flexible. Doing dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, trying a new recipe, going to the park with Avalon. Things that need to be done but if they don’t get done, no big deal. That’s right. If you don’t get every little thing on your list done, It’s no big deal!

Cutting yourself a break is a BIG deal.

Yes I look at that laundry pile and sink full of dishes and feel like the worst wife/mother too.

But you know what? It’s tough being an entrepreneur and sacrifices must be made. Sometimes that sacrifice is getting the household chores done. This goes DOUBLE for if you have a full time job and caking happens at night!

priorities quote

Focus on 1 Goal Every Day

I think the MAIN thing I do that makes me feel the most success is that I plan to get ONE thing done per day. Sure, I might get a ton of other little things done but they are flexible. If I don’t get them done, oh well but if I do, hooray! I set my expectations LOW so I feel better when I achieve more than I planned. That one thing I have to get done? Usually something work related. I MUST get my video edited today. I MUST get this tutorial finished filming etc. Everything else is just bonus.

Stop comparing your productivity to others.

I mean it.

Stop it.

I know we all are guilty of it at times. We see someone seemingly getting goal after goal accomplished and we immediately feel bad about our own success story.

But you know what?

Success is not what it seems.

Building Up Your Schedule Train

Every TV appearance, published cake, award or major accomplishment came from someone who has been accomplishing small goals every day. It’s like you’re the conductor of a train on the railroad to success. You’re going to be moving down that track no matter if you work or don’t work. Time stops for no man as they say.

30 days to develop a daily habit, 90 days to make it a lifestyle.

So every day, you load your train with a little bit of cargo. Maybe you want to write one blog post a week. So you schedule it as a big goal on the calendar.

Day 1: You wake up, check your calendar and see in three days you need to make a blog post. So your mini goal for the day is to spend some time researching some recipes you want to try on Pinterest. Goal done!

Day 2: You go grocery shopping to get the supplies you need. Goal done! I really recommend you never try to bake the same day as you shop. Shopping drains me and sucks the day away.

Day 3: You make your dessert and take photos and get ready to post. Now while all that was going on, you might have also done the household shopping, picked your kids up from school and dropped off the check for the water bill.

That’s how success happens. Little things, mixed in with regular life every day. But you have to show up, every day.

Multi-tasking like a BOSS!

Suddenly your train went from one car to two. Then you make another goal and star working towards that. Maybe you want to start making little videos for your Instagram so the next time you try a recipe, you decide to do a 1 minute time-lapse of piping the buttercream. You gain 50 new followers! Boom!

While working on goal #2, you get contacted by a magazine who sees your yummy recipe and wants you to make a version for their blog! COOL!

Did you catch that?

That’s how success happens. Little things, mixed in with regular life every day. But you have to show up, every day.

You can’t just work on the days that you “have time” or feel like it.

30 days to develop a daily habit, 90 days to make it a lifestyle.

Let’s See it in Action

Below is an example of how I use my Google Calendar to map out my weeks, months and even years.

Step 1. Start with BIG goals like events and due dates.

Step 2. Add in little goals (one per day) leading up to due dates to help spread the work load evenly

Step 3. Don’t forget personal appointments and scheduling in FUN! If you don’t schedule days off, you won’t ever have one.

Actually look at your calendar every day and add in to-do’s as you think of them. Sync your calendar to your phone so you can check your schedule at any time.

cake calendar example

If you can stick with this mindset for 90 days you will soon have a stream of “success” stories that other cakers will look at and wonder “HOW does she do it?”

Now that I am self-employed, self-management is key but I also have life that happens to me. Doctors appointments, emergencies or just days where I need to get out of the house and have some family time.

A Day in the Life of Sugar Geek Show

This is an example of how my day usually goes.

I also have a sample of my work week calendar from when I was making cakes full time for clients and how I broke sown my weeks to find a work/life balance between cakes and family.

7:00 – Wake up super energized (thank you keto) still lay in bed (because I like my bed) until 7:30 thinking about the days projects until I can’t stand it anymore. Get up, shower, put on work clothes aka yoga pants and sugar geek shirt.

8:00 – Drink coffee, check my calendar to see if I have anything due that day or what the next most important project is that I need to work on getting done (like tutorials, blog posts, class proposals). Write down any new tasks that I think of that I need to get done to get closer to my big goals that week.

9:00-11:00 – I leave this time flexible. Avalon is a late sleeper and is usually up by 9. I get her breakfast and she watches cartoons. I will do dishes or tidy up things and bounce back and forth between what she needs and just doing house stuff. Today I spackled a bunch of holes in the walls because I want to paint my living room. Mind you these walls have needed to be painted since before she was born. Entrepreneur mom problems.

11:00-12:00 – Feed Avalon lunch, usually eggs and sausage (thankfully Dan does this 99% of the time) I’ll continue to work on the computer sporadically, check facebook, edit photos and schedule my social media posts for the day.

12:00 – Get Avalon ready for school and drive her there.

12:30 – Get home and it’s focus time! Every week day from 1pm to 3pm I turn off my phone notifications, get away from my computer and go into my studio to work on whatever work I need to get done or I work on editing my videos. This is my prime work hours. If the door is closed no one is allowed to bother me. Having time where no one can bother you and you can focus and get into flow is super important to getting work done. You’d be amazed at how much you can achieve in 3 hours if that’s all you have and you really focus on getting your task done.

3:00 – Eat a small lunch, usually on the patio outside to get a mental break. Nature is proven to reinvigorate the senses and to help you feel creative.

3:15-5:00 – More focused work, try and wrap things up as much as I can before I need to stop for the day.

5:00 – Dan picks up Avalon, I start dinner.

It may appear that I am working or “on” all the time but really, I stick to the schedule I have set for myself.

6:00 – Eat dinner and hang out/family time.

7:30 – Avalon takes her bath and bedtime routine begins. I usually will do a little more computer work while Avalon is in the bath if I’m extra energetic feeling (like today lol)

9:00 – Down time. Sometimes Dan and I watch a movie together, sometimes we work on art projects or read books. This is more of our personal relaxation time or time to be together. We try to stay off our phones most of the time and just chat and reconnect.

11:30 – Almost always pass out. Very rarely can I stay up passed 11:30 without feeling really tired. I try to go to sleep at the same time every day so my body clock stays on track and I get good sleep. Also avoid eating any food at least 4 hours before you go to bed. Many people experience insomnia or sleeping problems due to eating too late at night.

On weekends we try to do fun things with Avalon, go grocery shopping, work on house projects, go with the flow 🙂

It may appear that I am working or “on” all the time but really, I stick to the schedule I have set for myself. It makes my life easier in the end instead of constantly feeling like I’m behind or not doing enough. Will this exact schedule work for you?

Most likely not.

I have a special situation in where my husband and I both work from home and my kid is in school for 5 hours a day. That helps a lot!

You just need to find what works for you and stick to it.

The first step is just getting into the habit of scheduling your days in your calendar and setting big goals and little goals. Check your calendar first thing in the morning instead of facebook.

I hope this helps! As promised, here is my cheat sheet on how I schedule out my work week for baking cakes. Want one of your own? Download a blank version below!

A little note about Fridays: notice it says decorate! That means I decorate until I’m done. Sometimes that means a very late night depending on how many cakes I have due but as a rule I never EVER finish a cake the day of delivery. Cakes need time to chill and settle before delivery or you can have a cake catastrophe.
PLUS, what if something goes wrong?

No one wants to be panicking 15 minutes before the delivery. Always finish your cakes the day before they are due.

 

Download Weekly Planner

Liz Marek

Liz Marek

Liz is the owner of Artisan Cake Company in Portland, Oregon. Published author of Artisan Cake Company's Visual Guide to Cake Decorating, winner of multiple awards in cake decorating and cake design and regular contributor to American Cake Decorating magazine. Host of the Sugar Geek Show.

 Facebook  Instagram
The Sugar Geek Show