Saturday, 5 March 2011

Learning from my mistakes

I really like Meet The Robinsons. It's one of Disney's less well regarded movies but for several reasons I'm very fond of it. One is that it was the brand new film when we were in Disney World last time and a tiny toddler Miss B was transfixed by the character of Lewis who was meeting kids. Another is because it talks about how you learn from failures. And WOW I've had plenty of learning opportunities lately.

Here are some of the lessons I've learnt:
  • Do not bake when overtired. I've messed up 2 chocolate ginger cakes (same batch) and a chocolate malteser cake in the past few days. I had assumed I could bake them with my eyes closed by now but it turns out that when staggeringly tired I forget raising agents or miscalculated when scaling recipes up or down.
  • Do the accounts every month, not every 6 months. This ought to be a no-brainer but as work, builders, decorating and general family stuff ate up all available hours I got dreadfully behind. It's a tedious process catching up that much and it's possible I've forgotten some cash purchases so am not accurately reflecting my true earnings. I also hadn't realised I was owed £300! That's been paid now, I believe - I can check on Monday (Nice surprise though!)
  • It is not a good idea to experiment with recipes or new techniques when overtired (are you sensing a theme?) To use up one of those wrecked cakes I did some experimenting. The same bleary-eyed hard-of-thinking befuddled state of mind that caused me to mess up a cake in the first place pretty much ensured the experiment was a disaster
  • Green and Black's white chocolate does not melt to a thin enough consistency to make a good dipping coating. Adding butter to thin it curdles it, adding a tiny splash of milk makes to go a horrible colour. I think cheaper chocolate might be worth a go.
  • It is OK to say no to commissions. If I am overtired (ha!) or over-committed (double ha!) it could be the smart move to turn down some work, whatever Mark says. (Mark is a keen fan of Always Accept Work but as I am the one working myself into something of a stupor, I have decided not to take his advice.)
  • If a customer changes the rules at the last minute it is OK to say No to the whole job. I'd accepted a job for a Sunday which, on the Wednesday before, was changed to a "I need to collect it tonight and forgot to tell you." I was already baking 14 batches of cakes and cookies that day and it was demented getting a celebration cake made as well. It was nice to satisfy the customer and she's a lovely woman but I pushed myself to tears of fatigue getting it done. Not smart.
  • I need to account for my time when costing things, and do so at a proper wage. Earning £5 a hour when I am an experienced, skilled professional is ridiculous. That's under the minimum wage.
    - as a self employed woman, does that mean I'm exploiting myself? probably!
  • It is good practice to ask for some detail about the person for whom a cake is intended if the customer has no design brief other than "make it nice." Having a selection of themes to get me started on a design is a big help.
  • I am not a lazy person. I think I am, because I hate exercise and am a messy slattern in some respect. However, my Mum pointed out that I work pretty much non-stop from waking up until 8 o'clock ish most nights, and that is not being lazy.
  • It is very important to keep my laptop calendar and my iPhone calendar synched. I nearly missed 2 appointments and did miss a talk at the school because the calendars weren't synched when I assumed they were both up to date.

See? Isn't that a lot of important stuff to have learnt? I think so. But then, I've not managed more than 5 hours sleep for most of the last month, so it's possible my judgement is impaired!

1 comment:

  1. Very very important learned stuff! I had to comment though because I love Meet the Robinsons and F and I watch it several times a year very happily and I cry at the end. Great film.
    Have learned a lot of similar things to your list in my own freelancing experience too. Horrid when tiredness leads to things going wrong.