Expecting the Unexpected When You Work From Home.

Planning for an emergency seems like an oxymoron, since emergencies are unexpected. But if you run a business from home you need to plan for them. If you don't, you won't be able to handle a crisis when it emerges.

If you work from home, and especially if you have kids, you know that you can't always plan for anything. You don't know when you'll need to respond to something that comes up in an unpredictable way. If you have a storefront you can delegate to employees, but if you're responsible for kids and a business, you are both the boss (of the business) and the employee (of the kids.)

And sometimes the emergency has nothing to do with kids. Last week I was gathering the garbage from the upstairs in my house, and I noticed that there was some kind of brownish drip on the floor near the base of the bathroom vanity cabinet. This was in the bathroom that my husband and son use, and he had assured me that he would be the one to clean it. I rarely ever go in there as a result, but maybe I should have.

When I went to investigate the drip I realized that the inside of the cabinet was warped, flooded, and full of mold. Long story short, there was a slow leak that had apparently been going for a couple of months at least, and nobody had seen it. For the last week, I've been dealing with not only wedding cakes and online orders, but having the upstairs bathroom ripped apart to give the floor a chance to dry out, and unscheduled trips to Lowe's to buy a new vanity cabinet. Next week will be the insurance inspection, having the floor put back in, the bathroom rebuild, and probably more trips to Lowe's.

I've been able to handle all of this (while my husband was out of town all week on a business trip, so he missed all the fun) because I learned long ago how to manage time so that I don't lose my mind when something like this happens. I address this kind of thing in my Guide To Time Management, but it's not magic.

Don't overschedule yourself, my friends. There are people who seem to think that they're going to win some kind of an award for being the busiest, but I've never seen that trophy. Unless big dark circles under their eyes and a nervous twitch counts as a trophy.

If you have four hours worth of work, give yourself at least 5 hours to do it. (The other part of this is being realistic about what constitutes 4 hours worth of work, but I go over that in my guide, so go get that...)

Anyway, just realize that the advice to have "regular working hours" when you work from home is pretty much useless, since you never know what will happen. and also remember that water can really cause trouble, and you should go put a bucket under every sink in your house.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

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