Why the Maker’s Schedule is the Secret to Great Work

You’ll never be a genius. 

Why? Because they don’t exist. 

For centuries, society has promoted “lone geniuses.” These are unique individuals who solely changed the world with their talents. 

However, the truth isn’t as exciting as this myth. 

Behind every innovative product, business, or revolution is a great team. For example, many people think that Steve Jobs invented the Macintosh computer. 

In reality, he didn’t invent anything.

He was a leader who found people to execute his vision. Business Executive Tim Sanders explains:

“If [Steve Jobs] doesn’t have [Steve] Wozniak, there is no original Apple. If he doesn’t have [Johnathan] Ive, there is no iPod. If he doesn’t have Tony Fadell, there is no iPhone.”

This logic also applies to inventions like the lightbulb. Thomas Edison built it by collaborating with other scientists. 

Genius work is a team effort. However, many remote managers are limiting their people’s progress. 

Why Managers Need to Embrace Maker’s Schedules

In his essay, YC’s Paul Graham explains that teams have makers and managers. Makers are those hired to do great work. They’re your designers, engineers, and writers.

They also tend to enjoy remote work. Makers can focus for several hours without getting distracted. Their schedule looks like large time blocks dedicated to completing tasks.

As a manager, your schedule is more diverse. 

You oversee people, systems, and goals. So, your day consists of answering emails, meetings, and calls. You need smaller blocks of focus.

Both of these schedules are great for each role. However, trouble happens when they combine. 

New remote managers tend to manage people as if they’re still in an office. They’ll plan meetings that interrupt people’s schedules.

This is disastrous. Such interruptions prevent makers from achieving greatness.

They’re forced to switch between tasks, lowering their motivation and their work’s quality. Some won’t even start again until the next day because their afternoon was ruined. 

In remote workplaces, great work matters more than hours worked. So, you must surrender your control and respect the maker’s schedule. 

Here’s how to help your employees create better quality work:

1. Stop Distracting Your People with Shallow Work

How many meetings do you schedule a week? How many emails or Slack updates do you send a day?

If you’re like most managers, you send too many. 

These tools have always been used to hold people accountable and determine their productivity. However, new research suggests that they worsen employee performance. 

For example, makers must perform deep work. Author Cal Newport calls this the ability to focus on complex tasks without distractions. Such focus saves time, improves skills, and moves projects forward. 

When you schedule too many meetings, you interrupt this focus. Employees must leave their work and concentrate on your meeting. 

This is called multi-tasking, and it’s very costly.

In a 2001 study, researchers asked participants to switch between tasks. They would waste time and make mistakes every time they multi-tasked. One of the researchers, David Meyer, explains that such small build-ups or “brief mental blocks…can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.”

Simply, the more you multi-task, the longer it takes to complete your work.

Another reason to not have meetings is that they interrupt your employees’ flow. According to psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, flow is the mental state in which you feel and perform at your best. You become totally engaged in a task. 

This state increases work quality but also creativity. 

Harvard’s Teresa Amiable studied 222 employees at seven companies. She discovered that employees who reached the flow state had higher levels of productivity, creativity, and happiness.

When you interrupt your people, you make it harder for them to reach this state. They’ll have to work at least 30 minutes to return to it. Some might quit entirely. 

Meeting and emails are necessary, but they can easily become distracting. Too much of these can lead to higher stress, mistakes, and lower creativity.

Which, in turn, will make your job harder. 

You can solve this problem by creating a schedule that benefits both you and your makers.

2. Create Hybrid Schedules and Office Hours

Makers and managers are both essential parts of an innovative team. When you match each other well, magic happens. 

This is why you should adopt a hybrid schedule. It’s a mix of the manager and maker schedules. You dedicated part of your week to deep work and the rest to meetings.

For example, Harrison Harnisch was a former technical lead at Buffer. He had both manager and maker duties. 

However, he noticed that he spent all day answering emails and mentoring others. There wasn’t enough time to finish his projects. 

So, he divided his calendar. Mondays and Fridays were about manager work. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays were about deep work.  

This plan helped him finish important tasks and re-group with his teams. 

It’s highly advised that you try this for yourself and the rest of your team. Pick 2 – 3 days that will focus on management tasks. 

Then, dedicate the rest of the week to deep work. On these days, you won’t be allowed to interrupt your makers. 

Another option is creating office hours. Instead of assigning days to certain roles, you assign hours.

For example, 9 am to 12 pm will be about work. Then, from 1 pm to 5 pm, you or your employees are allowed to interact with each other. 

Paul Graham has a similar daily schedule: 

“At the end of my working day, and I wrote a signup program that ensures all the appointments within a given set of office hours are clustered at the end. Because they come at the end of my day these meetings are never an interruption.”

When you pick a schedule format, please make it public to the rest of your team. People get easily offended when they don’t get a quick reply. 

3. Replace Meetings and Chats with Written Reports

Your team’s goal should be to produce high-quality work. This is work that solves problems. Or make other people’s lives easier. 

However, many remote managers prevent this by over-communicating. They think constant video meetings and chat groups increase productivity. 

This is false. They make it worse. 

Most meetings are useless. They’re too common, too long, and too boring. In the Harvard Business Review, researchers asked of 182 managers about their thoughts on meetings:

  • 65% said meetings stopped them from finishing their work
  • 71% believe they were unproductive and inefficient
  • 64% thought they ruin deep thinking 
  • 62% said that they failed to bring teams together

Chat groups like Slack are also problematic. They flood your people’s inboxes with important but not urgent information. This makes them feel pressured to reply quickly, disturbing their focus.

As a result, their work quality suffers. They also become less creative and satisfied. 

Problems like these are why Basecamp’s Jason Fried recommends that your team publish written reports. 

Instead of interrupting people with meetings and chats, ask them to publicly share their status updates. Anybody with questions about these reports can reply to them via text. 

However, allow your makers to respond to these on their own time. They should only be interrupted by reports that are important and urgent. 

This strategy helps them better perform deep work, increasing their work quality. 

Conclusion

Managers need makers. And, vice versa.

Think about it. Where would Apple be if Steve Jobs didn’t hire makers like Jonathan Ives? 

However, many remote managers tend to stop makers from creating great work. They constantly interrupt their schedules with unnecessary meetings.

This forces makers to practice multi-tasking. Thus, lowering their focus, productivity, and creativity. 

Their work becomes low-quality and full of mistakes. 

If you don’t let your team perform deep work, you’ll never achieve great innovation and brilliance. Steve Jobs famously said: 

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

Great managers respect their employee’s time and focus. This is why you should embrace the maker’s schedule. 

First, create hybrid schedules or office hours. You assign certain days or hours to deep work. Then, you assign the rest to meetings and other management tasks. 

You should also create fewer meetings and group chats. Use written reports to learn the updates of your team’s projects. People with questions about these updates can reply to them. 

But most importantly, allow makers to respond to the concerns on their own time. This decreases interruptions. Thus, increasing work quality and their chances of creative breakthrough. 

When managers and makers effectively collaborate, genius work is only a matter of time.

3 Ways to Build Trust With Remote Employees

In 2014, a massive flood hit the streets of Srinagar, India. Companies like Axelereant had their offices forced underwater. This caused CEO Akur Gupta to have an idea.

He transformed his software agency into a 100% remote company. This removed the stress of returning to work after such bad weather. But this fast-thinking couldn’t prepare Gupta for his biggest career challenge: developing employee trust.

Source: Axelereant‌

How Axelerant Transformed a Disengaged Culture

It’s easy for remote employees to feel disconnected from their teams. A Workplaceless study revealed that Axelerant employees felt isolated and undervalued. They didn’t trust their leadership or fellow team members.

This led to high turnover, culture toxicity, and poor performance. Gupta noticed these issues and promised to change them:

“We realized that [distributed teams] could quickly become saddled with a purely transactional culture… We needed to make a conscious effort to make interactions a lot more engaging, so that new friendships and powerful working relationships could be forged like in highly successful office settings.”

So, Gupta introduced mentorship programs and feedback tools. He even hired a life coach! As a result, the culture transformed. Trust, profit, and performance increased. Employees became Axelerant’s biggest supporters.

This shows how trust can improve a team’s performance. However, it’s not easy to develop this when there’s no physical workplace.

Source: Axelereant‌

Why It’s Harder to Develop Trust in a Remote Workplace

How we develop trust has little to do with words. Our body language, eye contact, and voice make a big chunk of our communication.

That’s why it’s easy to build relationships in an office. Seeing people’s expressions, smiles, and gestures inspires closeness. Even working on the same floor as another person creates familiarity.

Source: Toggl/James Chapman‌

But when you work remotely, you don’t have these interactions. You can’t talk to a team member a few cubicles away. You can’t high-five them for a job well done. This can make employees feel lonely and rejected.

According to a global survey, this is why 2/3 of remote workers are disengaged. And only 5% of them expect to stay at their company long-term wise.

This puts you in a unique spot as a manager. You have to practice deliberate leadership and reach out to employees to create a sense of teamwork. Or else they’ll leave quickly.

1. Empower Your Employees By Showing Appreciation

We, humans, want validation. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we satisfy our basic needs first. Then, we move onto psychological desires — love and respect from others. Without this, we become unhappy.

Source: Simply Psychology‌

For example, most managers think workers leave due to poor pay. In reality, it’s because they feel neglected. HealthStream Research and O.C. Tanner interviewed 200,000 supervisors and employees.

They found that 79% of employees who quit, cited lack of appreciation as a factor. This is because we seek fulfillment from our work. We’ll even sacrifice cash rewards for it. When teams feel appreciated, their performance and productivity increases:

You should express appreciation often. However, this isn’t easily done virtually. You have to be more thoughtful and creative.

Source: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace‌

How to Properly Praise Your Team Members

Most managers get praise wrong. They make assumptions and appreciate employees incorrectly. Based on Gary Chapman and Paul White’s book, every employee has a workplace love language. Or a preferred appreciation style. Four of them can happen remotely:

  1. Quality time
  2. Words of affirmation
  3. Gifts
  4. Acts of service

Before you can appreciate your employees, find out what language best fits them. Ask questions like:

  • “How do you like to be recognized?”
  • “How can I help you achieve your goals?”
  • “How can I make you feel more appreciated?”

Then, write down the answers.

The first language is quality time. It’s when you spend 30 – 60 mins coaching your employees. You help them develop skills and job paths. You also give them the freedom to express their ideas and frustrations. This can happen through video calls or chats.

Sometimes, employees would rather have special projects. Assign them tasks that will help advance their careers.

Source: Jonathan Yabut‌

The second language is words of affirmation. This is verbal praise about someone’s accomplishments or character. The best praise is specific to the employee. 

Say things like, “You did a great job with X. It helped us achieve Y. Thank you so much!” Share these compliments over email, video calls, or comments.

Source: Jonathan Yabut‌

The next language is gift-giving. The best gifts aren’t expensive. Instead, they’re personal. You can give online courses, gift cards, software, and eBooks. 

Whatever you choose, it should be relevant to your employee. Pay attention to their hobbies, interests, and problems. Don’t forget to write a note expressing gratitude.

Source: Jonathan Yabut‌

Lastly, you can practice acts of service. You delegate tasks for an employee or give them the tools to finish them better. This helps lessen their stress. 

Ask questions like, “Is there anything I can do to make your work easier? What’s the best way I can help?” When you get the answer, get it done.

Source: Jonathan Yabut‌

2. Create a High-Trust Culture by Being Transparent

You know how remote work can increase employee productivity. However, it can also make them less committed. Remote workers are more likely than office workers to quit. 

The lack of interactions makes them less loyal to an organization. This can ruin your team’s morale and performance.

Source: Julian Stodd/Landscape of Trust‌

Luckily, you can reverse this damage. According to Gallup, managers who build trust with their remote employees are more likely to keep them.

Providing information, explaining expectations, and promoting autonomy show workers that they’re valued. Without this transparency, they’ll feel disconnected and start to look for work elsewhere.

Source: Dilbert‌

How to Use Trust to Build High-Performing Teams

It’s easy for people to lose sight of their duties and goals. Avoid this by setting clear expectations. Regularly chat with your team about deadlines, assignments, and lessons learned.

Also, share important company updates — the good and bad news. This gives employees clarity and shows that they’re valuable to the organization.

Next, realize that trust is a two-way street. You must give it to receive it. So try not to micromanage your team. Remote workers are more likely to overwork than slack off.

Great teams are filled with people who thrive under autonomy. It’s your job to give them clarity and support. But, it’s their duty to take action and complete projects.

Source: Dilbert‌

3. Keep Your Employees by Supporting Their Careers

The American Psychological Association surveyed 1,076 workers about job training and career development. Workers with supervisor support felt satisfied and appreciated. Those without support didn’t trust their employer. They were planning to leave next year.

Source: American Psychological Association (APA)‌

This data shows that investing in your team’s growth helps build trust. However, when you don’t see your team often, you can fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” trap.

You forget to ask about their career goals, progress, and problems. This can make employees feel passed up for job opportunities. Just like this Hacker News user:

“I had no one to vouch for me. [If I had worked in an office], I would have had more opportunities to network…within the company and my accomplishments would have been more visible…Instead, I was quietly led out the back door and disappeared. In a remote company it’s a lot easier to be fired.”

This fear and distrust stops people from staying committed. Change this attitude by investing in their development.

Source: Mike Seddon/Cartoonstock‌

How to Invest in Your Team’s Learning and Development

As previously stated, people don’t quit solely because of low pay. They leave due to a lack of growth and recognition. To keep your team, you must become their coach and biggest supporter.

First, talk about their ambitions, goals, and weaknesses. Then, offer information, tools, or guidance that will help them achieve these goals. Or strengthen their skills.

You should also expose them to unique opportunities and other helpful leaders in your organization. This will make them feel valued.

Lastly, meet with your team members individually. Every three months, spend 30 – 60 mins discussing their strengths and weaknesses. Give feedback on how they could improve their performance.

This hands-on training will prove to your team that you’re invested in their success.

Source: Dilbert‌

Conclusion

When your employees trust you, it becomes easier to retain talent, finish projects, and achieve positive results.

However, this isn’t easy in remote workplaces. The long-distance disconnects you from your team. That’s why social maintenance is important. Psychologist Laura Hambley explains the reality:

“You can’t get away with lazy leadership. You must proactively reach out to people regularly to create a sense of teamwork and community.”

You can do this by expressing appreciation to your workers often. But in a language that best resonates with them.

Share updates about the company so they won’t feel left out. And, trust them enough to finish tasks on their own. Independent people make remote work much easier.

Lastly, invest in their careers. Give them the tools and resources needed to do their job better.

Building trust is hard, but not impossible. If you make it a priority, your team can overcome a lot of challenges.

Combat Remote Cabin Fever with a Great Social Life

“[You don’t] see a lot of people.Your sensory input is limited.

You start regressing. You lose certain abilities to write and think.

I wanted to write an article, but I found my vocabulary had vanished. I had trouble putting sentences together.”

Mark L. Smith was describing life in the loneliest part of the world, Antarctica. He managed a satellite facility there.

At first, he was excited about this opportunity. But slowly, he hated it. The harsh winter and isolation made him lonely, bored, and hopeless. This reaction is called cabin fever.

Source: Cork English Teacher

How Cabin Fever Creeps In Your Workspace

Cabin Fever is stress due to being stuck in an isolated place for too long. And it doesn’t just affect polar workers like Mark.

You can feel it in your own home.

Remote workers usually don’t have a commute. This means you don’t have to go anywhere. But before you know it, you haven’t left the house in a week or more. Such isolation can make you depressed and socially awkward.

That’s why you need an active social life. Support from family, friends, and co-workers reduces your loneliness.

Source: Cube Drone

How Office and Remote Work Affect Your Social Life

As humans, we want companionship. Offices satisfy this desire.

Meetings, parties, and after-work hangouts make us feel like we’re part of a bigger group. Seeing coworkers “face-to-face” creates togetherness.

As a remote worker, you don’t have these moments. You only connect with others through messaging, email, and calls. This can get lonely.

You’re also removed from the outside world. Most people engage with their community through work. Without an office or commute, it’s harder to interact with local people, businesses, and cultures.

Source: Toggl/James Chapman

So, use your new freedom to join communities, have adventures, and develop friendships. Just like this Hacker News user:

“Remote working has allowed me to flourish socially. I have a recreational hockey team, [my partner and I] are part of a nice Yoga community, and given that we spend lots of time around our neighbourhood, we have met many friends, from the lady who cleans our building to the dude who owns the coffeeshop.

When [you don’t have an office, it’s your duty] to find a healthy replacement with the extra time and flexibility that remote life affords you.”

Take a leap of faith and briefly leave your workspace. Try to create awesome experiences that fulfill you and won’t hurt your career. Here’s how you can do that:

Source: Dilbert‌

1. Prioritize Your Family Without Losing Work

The love from our spouses, children, and friends make us happier and healthier. You can nurture these relationships with remote work. Here’s how Joe, the author of Dad’s Guide to Twins, uses it to become a better father:

“I Iove the flexibility of being able to help my family during the day. I can drop off or pick up my kids from school. I can attend their midday assemblies or eat lunch with them at school on their birthdays.

I love being able to give them hugs when they leave for school in the morning or when they return home in the afternoon because I’m not stuck in an office building or in rush hour traffic.”

However, remote work can also confuse people. Family and friends might mistake you working from home as you being available. That you have time to talk, entertain, or serve them

But you have a job to do! So you reject your family, making you feel guilty. Avoid this trouble by adding them to your daily routine.

Source: Dad’s Guide to Twins/Gumroad‌

How to Balance Your Family and Work Life

If you have kids, use mornings to prepare them for school. Cook their breakfast and drop them off. Then pick them up in the afternoon.

You can also use mornings to walk your dog. Or, have weekly brunches with friends. In the evening, cook dinner or have dates with your partner. These activities make relationship building a habit.

Next, express your boundaries. Tell people about your working hours. Also, share your schedule. Explain what times you are and aren’t free. When kids ask for you, say “[Mom/Dad] is really busy right now. I’ll help you later.”

If you’re still struggling to manage your family, ask for help. Spouses or partners can handle chores for you. Hire a nanny, babysitter, or relative to look after your kids. You can also enroll them for day or summer activities.

Lastly, think about traveling with your family and friends. Remote work gives you the flexibility to have adventures while busy. Just keep your laptop close as you experience new hotels, trips, and cities.

Source: Sarah Steenland‌

2. Avoid Loneliness by Leaving Your Workspace

You’re most likely not a digital nomad. You’re not always traveling the world with a backpack. Instead, you’re working from home. Where it’s convenient, affordable, and (kinda) peaceful.

But also, isolating.

Spending every day at home causes you to spiral downwards. Soon, you’ll neglect your health, hygiene, and social skills. You need these skills to develop deep and supportive relationships. Without them, you’ll experience cabin fever or burnout.

Source: The Oatmeal‌

An AND.CO survey reported that 30% of remote workers believe that loneliness is the biggest threat to their happiness. Taking breaks from your workspace will lessen this loneliness and improve your mental health.

Source: AND.CO‌

How to Be More Social When Working Remotely

First, be self-aware. Ask yourself, “Am I an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert?” This will help you create a social life that best fits your personality.

Introverts are reserved, work independently, and like to engage with few people. Extroverts are outgoing, prefer to work in teams, and love being around others. Ambiverts are a mix of both groups.

Source: The Muse at Dreyfoos‌

If you’re an extrovert or ambivert, try working sometimes at a coffee shop or coworking space. Introverts should try the library.

Next, make talking and meeting people a weekly priority. You should schedule a call or lunch date with a friend. Have heartfelt conversations, laughs, and discussions.

Or, talk to strangers while doing activities. You can meet new people while shopping, picking up your kids, or walking. Also, try socializing in public places. Internet cafes, bars, and kitchens in coworking spaces are good hangout spots.

Lastly, be active in your community. Industry conferences, public classes, sports teams, events, or volunteer groups are full of diverse people.

Source: WeWork Torre Bellini in Buenos Aires‌

3. Get More Connected with Your Team Members

It’s hard to build relationships within remote teams. You can’t walk up to a coworker and ask about their weekend. Or, share jokes over lunch.

It’s even harder to sense each other’s emotions. Chats, emails, and calls don’t express vocal inflections, facial expressions, and body language well. We need these to help us determine if we’re appreciated. Without them, we feel unsupported.

A VitalSmarts survey of 1,153 employees confirmed this. Remote workers feel more left out than office workers. They were more likely to believe that coworkers were plotting against them.

Source: VitalSmarts/Harvard Business Review

This is troublesome because coworkers are a big part of your social life. The more isolated you feel, the less happy you are at work. To ease this fear, you must introduce virtual activities that help your team better develop trust and respect.

How to Build Deeper Relationships with Your Team

Video calls help you get more personal with your team. Tools like Zoom and Skype let you see each other’s faces, quirks, and body language.

Don’t start these calls with work. Instead, ask about your team’s weekend, achievements, and other personal stuff.

You can also meet your coworkers in person. At Auth0, employees are asked to spend intimate time together. Some share coffee over video calls. Workers who live near each other tend to meet up in person. This builds closeness faster.

Source: Clayton Moulynox/The Startup‌

Create watercooler moments by dedicating chat rooms or channels to non-work related interests. For example, RescueTime has a Slack channel called #book-club. Team members can talk about their assigned book of the month.

Source: RescueTime‌

Lastly, express your appreciation and gratitude. Show your team that you value them. Reaching out and catching up is a great way to build togetherness without disrupting your workday too much.

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter if you’re an extrovert or introvert. You need strong social connections. They help you survive and thrive. Without them, you’ll become anxious and depressed.

Remote work is supposed to be rewarding, not isolating. You can avoid cabin fever by using flexibility to your advantage. Create daily routines that include spending time with family and friends. But don’t forget to explain your boundaries to them.

Once a week, leave your home to take part in a group activity. Or visit public places and introduce yourself to new people.

Stay connected with your team members with video calls. You can better develop trust by meeting them in person. Or, by engaging with them in fun discussion channels.

Remote work changes your life. But it’s not an excuse to neglect other areas of your life. 

How to Avoid Remote Burnout and Protect Your Mental Health

“Things finally came ahead when I had an emotional breakdown.

I wrapped up a completely normal and uneventful day at work, did my fifteen-foot commute from my office to my living room.

[Them, I] found myself vomiting from stress, saying how much I hated–truly hated–my job, and crying as I realized how unhappy I was with my new life.

Benjamin Pollack, a senior software engineer, was recapping his first year working remotely. He wanted to enjoy it — just like his friends did. But, he was suffering from burnout.

Source: Verywell Mind

What’s Burnout?

Burnout is when you feel emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted due to workplace stress. You struggle to focus and appreciate your work. You become unhappy and irritable.

This tiredness robs you of a rewarding experience. Remote work has many benefits. Here’s why Freelancer Shannon loves it:

“Freedom and flexibility are the two aspects of remote work that I would [struggle] to leave behind…I also enjoy the benefit of setting my own schedule. [These qualities] have allowed me to build a life that includes so much travel. There’s a near absolute freedom to create your own priorities alongside your work and then see them through.”

Remote work increases your productivity, job satisfaction, and overall quality of life. But it isn’t easy. There are many privileges of office life that you won’t have when working remotely.

Source: College Humor

Why Remote Work Is More Stressful Than an Office

Managers and employees alike assume that remote work is the solution to workplace stress. However, DigitalOcean survey of 4,500 remote developers disproved that. 

Remote workers were more burned out than office workers — 66% vs. 64%, respectively. This is because they lack the structure and support that office people have.

For example, offices have work hours. When the clock strikes five, employees stop working and focus more on their personal life. But remote workers don’t have this signal. They keep working, building up stress.

Source: Toggl/James Chapman

They also don’t have people checking upon them. When office workers are upset, managers and colleagues can offer help. Remote workers have to fend for themselves. When they realize they’re burnt out, it’s usually too late.

But working remotely does have perks. It saves you time and money from commuting. Its flexibility lets you travel and take care of family members. You also don’t have to see annoying co-workers all the time.

Avoid burnout by creating a work style that best fits your life. The tips below will help you better manage stress. And stop you from going to the emergency room:

Source: Dilbert

1. Create a Routine that Separates Life and Work

Remote people tend to overwork. DigitalOcean discovered this when asking developers about their hours. Thirty-four percent of them worked more than 8 hours a day. 

In another report, Kimble Applications found that 22% of billable workers under-reported their hours. These are people who usually don’t work in an office. They thought working so much as normal.

However, this is one of the major causes of burnout. Working morning to night isn’t good for your mind or body. It can also isolate you from friends and family. You need to create boundaries that separate your work and personal life.

How to Better Structure Your Day and Night

Morning and evening routines are great ways to achieve a better work-life balance. First, don’t start your morning with work. Instead, take a shower, eat breakfast, or walk the dog

Use your early hours to improve your health or relationships. This will not only strengthen your focus but also enhance your mood. Here’s how Productivity Guild’s Justin DiRose starts his workday:

Source: Effective Remote Work

Next, create work hours. These are the times when you’ll start and stop working. Just as if you were in an office. But don’t forget to schedule breaks!

Lastly, create a shutdown or evening routine. When it’s a certain time, you close your laptop and dedicate the rest of the night to yourself or social life. Here’s how Buffer’s Marcus Wermuth schedules his workday:

Source: Buffer‌

2. Communicate and Connect With Your Team

Another cause of burnout is a lack of social support. When working remotely, it’s easy to disconnect from your team. The lack of personal interactions can make you feel like an outcast. It can also make you feel guilty.

So, you overwork to show that you’re not lazy. Scott Hanselman describes these feelings perfectly:

“We DO feel guilty working at home…We fear that you think we aren’t putting in a solid 40 hours (or 50, or 60).

Because of this, we tend to work late, we work after the kids are down, and we work weekends…In my anecdotal experience, remote workers are more likely to feel they are ‘taking time from the company’ and pay it back more than others.”

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Don’t overextend yourself to prove you’re reliable. Instead, make yourself seen.

How to Make Yourself Seen Without Burning Out

Start by sending status updates. Once a week, email your team the top three tasks or projects you’re trying to complete. Then, follow-up and show your progress. Explain what tasks you have and haven’t finished.

Also, ask for feedback. Find out if they’re happy with your performance. Ask questions like, “Am I on track with X? Do you like what I’m doing with X?”

Next, be transparent. Give your team your work hours. Explain at what times they can and can’t reach you. If these hours don’t fit their schedules, compromise and plan accordingly. Be aware of their different time zones like Customer.io.

Source: Customer.io‌

Lastly, build relationships with your coworkers. Video and audio calls make interacting with others easier. Instead of dealing with matters via email or messaging, ask your team members to join a call. You get a greater sense of each other’s personalities.

Or, try meeting them in person. Tigran Hakobyan shares a co-working space with another Buffer team member. He also attends annual retreats where he spends time with the rest of his team.

Source: CMX‌

3. Take Care Of Your Mind, Heart, and Body

Greek psychologists reviewed studies on burnout and cognitive functions. They found that exhausted people tend to have attention and memory lapses. This made it harder for them to concentrate and finish tasks.

In Sweden, researchers compared burnout survivors to healthier people. The burnout group had more trouble controlling their negative feelings. This can lead to depression, aggression, and irritability.

In a Dutch study, researchers reviewed the relationship between “the stress hormone” cortisol and burnout. They found that burnt-out people had lower cortisol levels than relaxed people. These low levels are tied to health issues like heart disease, obesity, and substance abuse.

These conditions hurt your body and mental health. Prevent them by learning how to safely manage your stress.

Source: Daily Herald

How to Better Manage Your Stress

As a remote worker, you’re bombarded with emails, notifications, and project updates on a daily basis. This can be overwhelming. Mindful meditation gets you out of this anxious state and into a calmer one. It can also boost your focus and attention.

The New York Times advises that you try this S.T.O.P. exercise when you’re stressed out:

  1. Stop whatever you’re doing and pause.
  2. Take a deep breath. Then, exhale. Feel the sensation.
  3. Observe what’s happening inside and outside of you.
  4. Proceed with whatever you’re doing.

Another tactic is scheduling work and break sessions throughout your day. These cycles of stress and rest help you grow. However, don’t plan too many breaks or else you’ll lose focus.

Source: Breaking Muscle

For example, if you’re a programmer or writer, you need intense concentration. Working for only 15 – 20 minutes interrupts your attention. And it stops you from entering “flow.”‌

Flow is when you’re fully immersed or involved in an activity. It’s when you feel and perform at your best. To reach this state, you need 2 – 3 hours of deep work. Then, a 30 – 60 minute break. Some people have 4-hour sessions with meals in between.‌

These long sessions might seem intense. But with proper habits and guidance, you can achieve it. Constantly tweak your schedule to find the best work cycle for you.

If you notice that an IC is struggling with this, help them better organize their workday.

Source: Todoist

Lastly, sleep and exercise often. Sleeping for 6-8 hours prevents illnesses, increases your productivity, and improves your mood.

Exercise reverse bad sleep and help better regulate your emotions. When you do it, your body produces endorphins that reduce stress. Harvard recommends that you try swimming, walking, strength training, tai chi and kegel exercises.

Conclusion

Burnout sucks. It can make you fall out of love with your work. But the benefits of working remotely are too good to give up. The flexibility, savings, and control enrich your life like no office can.

That’s why you must practice stress management. It’s the key to an awesome and strong remote career. We suggest that you create healthy and strict boundaries. Use routines to separate your personal and work life.

Source: Dilbert‌

Also, don’t overcompensate to prove you’re reliable. Regularly talk and socialize with your team to appear hardworking. Lastly, protect your mind and body. Meditation, exercise, and rest helps combat the effects of burnout.

Remote work is a great opportunity to advance yourself personally and professionally. Take advantage of it.

We Hate Bad Bosses. So, Why Do We Become Them? Here’s the Research

“My last boss was a complete dictator. He micromanaged everything.” said someone on Reddit.

The person continued, “I tried to leave and applied for eight other positions in our company, and he blocked or destroyed every attempt.”

“She wasn’t a bad person, but she was just difficult to work with for [many] reasons. She had this knack for making people cry. She made me cry several times,” said another commenter.

If you ever dealt with a horrible boss or manager, you can relate to these hurt people.

Poor leadership is such a problem that 50% of people quit because they hated their boss.

This has such disastrous effects on a business. If a worker has a salary of $45,000 a year, it would cost an employer $15,000 to replace them.

Get Lighthouse calculated that the hidden costs can be over $65,500 for an employee making $100,000 per year or $40/hr!

Don’t Judge Too Hard. You Might Be a Poor Boss Too

Bad leadership ruins good organizations. They make work a living hell.

However, their influence hasn’t stopped the emergence of a new generation of poor managers.

Most people have dealt with a lousy boss, yet it doesn’t stop them from mismanaging another person.

You would think that they would have empathy. In reality, it’s the total opposite. Research shows that you’re more likely to become a bad boss than a great one.

There’s a lot of personal, social, and systematic factors that reward your bad behavior. Hell, these factors can even punish you if you try to do better!

There’s a lot of personal, social, and systematic factors that reward your bad behavior. Hell, these factors can even punish you if you try to do better!

To stop yourself from being the leader you hated, you must understand what can influence you to become that way.

Then, you can use your new knowledge to become the leader that your team wants. You’ll increase their performance, productivity, and even revenue.

Credit: Freepik

1. Your Bad Attitude Will Get Rewarded

What was your worst boss like? Was the person arrogant, controlling, or intimidating?

If yes, that’s why they got promoted.

Dominate people are given leadership roles, even if they’re not qualified. This is because we tend to confuse confidence with competence.

A study revealed that groups picked overly domineering people as leaders over those with less influence.

This was a mistake. Many of these leaders made terrible decisions and damaged the welfare of their group.

But here’s the surprising part: many of them went unchallenged. This is because group members trusted their decision making at their expense.

This phenomenon is why narcissism, intimidation, and bullying runs rampant in workplaces.

We give people status and power because they look like leaders, not because they are.

A super counterproductive habit. The same study showed that the more overly powerful people had the worst performance.

The same study showed that the more overly powerful people had the worst performance.

If you’re a confident, aspiring leader, you have to be more mindful of your leadership style.

This is because there’s a high chance that you’ll become the boss you hate. You won’t realize this until it’s too late.

The solution isn’t to limit your confidence. It’s quite the opposite. It’s to use your courage to promote an engaged and psychologically safe workplace.

You have to look beyond the rewards from your higher-ups to ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing the best for my team?”

Credit: Shuttershock

How to Be the Leader Your Team Needs

Confidence isn’t bad. Neither is a dominating or influential presence. But, these personality types are more likely to use intimation to convince others to act.

Although this style does produce results, it’s only short-term. It has long-term adverse effects on employees.

These effects include low productivity, high turnover, workplace bullying, and poor decision-making.

Leadership trainer Kathy Caprino told Forbes that psychological safety is the key to reversing the damage of fear-management.

Psychological safety is when employees have enough freedom to disagree, challenge failure, and develop creative ideas without fear of punishment.

Psychological safety is when employees have enough freedom to disagree, challenge failure, and develop creative ideas without fear of punishment.

According to Gallup, this can lead to:

  • 27% decrease in turnover
  • 40% decrease in safety incidents
  • 12% increase in productivity

Companies like 3M used this to develop ground-breaking products like surgical tape, face masks, and post-it notes.

But to reap these benefits, you must put your ego aside. Dominating people tend to limit other people’s opinions.

Don’t use your confidence to earn more influence. Instead, use it to convince others to express their ideas. Ask your workers to challenge your suggestions by creating better ones.

This will be hard because you’ll have to admit your flaws. But that’s fine.

You’re learning to respect the diverse views and thought-processes of your team. You’re giving others the voice you wished you had.

Better yet, you’re transforming your destiny. You’re shifting the chances of you becoming the boss you hated.

Credit: Nappy

2. Building Up Your Empathy is Exhausting

If you read the latest leadership book or LinkedIn hot-take, you know how important empathy is.

Without it, you’ll become an office tyrant rather than an effective leader.

But here’s the ugly truth about empathy: it’s not easy. It’s emotionally taxing, sometimes impractical, and hard to maintain.

Especially if you have a severe workload and have struggled to progress in your career.

Researchers McDonnell, Nordgren, and Ruttan reflected on their study on empathy in the Harvard Business Review.

They discovered that if you endured challenges, you might be less likely to empathize with people dealing with similar struggles. You’ll even become overly critical if they failed to cope with them.

When a distressed employee contacts you, you might respond with, “Why are you complaining? I’ve been through worse.”

Although this reaction is harsh, it’s not full of malice. It’s proof that your workload and experiences have made empathy difficult.

You can overcome this by framing empathy as a skill, instead of a trait. Traits are inherited. But, skills can be mastered with time and effort.

When you “practice” empathy, you’ll slowly learn how to use it in your daily life. You’ll become less focused on yourself and more understanding of the needs of others.

When you “practice” empathy, you’ll slowly learn how to use it in your daily life. You’ll become less focused on yourself and more understanding of the needs of others.

Also, you’ll learn how not overly to attach your emotions to it. It’ll become a habit, not something you failed in.

Credit: Upsplash

How to Be More Empathetic Without Burning Out

You must practice empathy throughout your leadership career. This is because the more power you gain, the less likely you’ll care about others.

Berkeley Professor Dacher Keltner has studied powerful people for decades. He noticed that they acted as if they had brain damage.

They struggled to read others emotions and understand their point-of-view.

In other words, if you don’t maintain your empathy, your mind will forget it. A reality that many bad bosses are dealing with today.

In HBR Magazine, psychologist Adam Waytz offered advice on how you can better manage and grow your empathy.

Make it a habit by setting reminders. Every day, at a certain time, you try to be sensitive to another person for 15 minutes. You can ask how they feel, think, and want about certain topics and situations.

Don’t just talk about work. Learn more about their lives and interests. But, don’t give everybody this opportunity. At least not at first.

Start small by targeting specific groups like customers and employees. You can branch out when you feel comfortable.

Don’t forget to take breaks. Compassion-fatigue is a problem. Spend 50% of your time focusing on bettering others, and the rest on yourself.

Every skill needs rest to grow. If you’re not serving yourself, how can you serve others?

Lastly, focus on the process rather than the results. Empathy doesn’t have any quick rewards or reactions.

So, it’s going to be difficult for you to know if you succeed or not. But if you do this task every day, it will soon be part of your character.

Credit: Upslash

3. You’re a Product of a Toxic Culture

So far, you know how your flaws can make you a bad boss. But what if the problem is bigger than you? Like at a systematic level?

Sometimes, you fail at leadership because your work culture has failed you.

Work culture is the accepted behavior of everybody in the organization.

For example, the corporate values poster in the office lobby isn’t culture. The bank teller creating fake accounts to appease her manager is.

This is what happened at Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo is an American bank. It pressured bankers and managers to create millions of fake accounts in their customers’ name.

In a Get Lighthouse article, I explained that massive fraud was due to toxic work culture. Employees were ordered to create fake loans and bank accounts to meet insane sales quotas.

Although employees were punished if they failed, so were their managers. Employees told The LA Times that managers would be humiliated in front of their peers by the community banking president.

Yes, the president. All the major executives like the CEO were supporting the fraud too.

All the major executives like the CEO were supporting the fraud too.

This scandal is an example of how bad leadership is the result of toxic upper-management and culture.

You feel pressured to ignore your employees’ frustrations out of fear of abuse.

The solution to this is simple but brave. You need to get help.

Credit: Upsplash

Culture Change Will Be Met With Resistance

Fixing a toxic culture is the hardest part of leadership. It’s because of the intense push-back.

Most people don’t like change. They’ll fight and argue with you to keep their old habits.

If you don’t get hate from employees or customers, you’ll get it from those with more power.

That’s why you must organize a team of people who share your mission for change. They’ll help develop strategies to manage conflict better and support you when stressed.

Emerson Consulting’s Tricia Emerson recommends that you fire toxic people — even if they’re your top performers. You want to remove all the harmful people who supported the toxicity from the beginning.

Then, create a list of new standards you want employees to adopt. Assign them actionable behaviors that will make your new rules reality.

For example, want to improve customer service? Offer employees training and scripts on how to be more polite. Track their progress through customer surveys and interviews.

If you don’t think any of these tips are an option, quit your job. Seriously, look for a new job.

Submit that resume to LinkedIn. Schedule that interview. Send that two-week notice.

Bad cultures will damage your mental, emotional, and physical health.

It’s OK to give up and try something else. Even if you have a family. You’ve sacrificed so much already. It’s time to bring those talents elsewhere.

Credit: Upsplash

Conclusion

Bad bosses are deadly. Their rude behavior affects your self-esteem, job satisfaction, and even your physical health.

Just the thought of your worst manager makes you shiver and raises your blood pressure.

However, don’t judge too hard because there’s a possibility that you’ll one day become as bad as them. Hell, maybe you already are.

The track to becoming a horrible manager isn’t a fast one. It’s a slow downward spiral.

You make small bad decisions without knowing it. You start to overestimate yourself. Get upset at feedback.

A commenter on the HBR explained how this happened to her:

“Other people treated me as special, and I began to believe it. The process is subtle, and even my executive coach didn’t spot it…One thing I notice in hindsight is that I stopped wanting to hear any criticism from people I perceived as not supporting me. Now I see that my very resistance to the criticism was a [sign] that there was a problem that deserves close examination. My emotions — anger, fear, pride — got in the way of my willingness to [become more self-aware].”

To stop yourself from becoming the person you despised, you must understand your flaws.

Know when rewards are inflating your ego and not making you a better leader.

When your workers are dealing with a problem, ask yourself, “Is my attitude helping them feel better and strive to a solution?” Because when people feel bad, they’re less likely to fix their problems.

Lastly, diagnose your culture.

Determine if your workplace has changed your behavior for the worst. It’s best to ask another person for confirmation on this. But, don’t get too offended if they say, yes.

It’s an on-going process not to become the boss you hate.

Have feedback? Email me at info@bethromelus.com OR tweet me @Beth_Writing

Credit: Upsplash