January 28, 2020

How to Cultivate Discipline While Leading Remote Companies

One downside of remote work is that it’s hard to stay disciplined. Fortunately, there are many ways to increase discipline. Keep reading to learn more about these methods, whether you work from home or you lead a remote company.

Working Remote Is “The Dream” For Many

The option to work remotely is a major factor in today’s job market. A 2019 survey asked respondents about flexible job options, such as working outside an office. 80 percent of people said that these options were a deciding factor in accepting a job. Why is this type of work so desirable? Remote workers experience less stress, are more productive, and are more satisfied with their jobs. Remote workers don’t have to deal with long commutes or adhere to a strict dress code. There are fewer interruptions throughout the day, so it’s easier to focus. Many remote workers work from home. Others use coworking spaces, coffee shops, or other public areas. All of these options have benefits that many traditional offices lack, like privacy, natural light, and a short commute. Remote jobs that pay well used to be hard to find, but that's no longer the case in many fields. In fact, in many cases, remote work pays more. One study found that remote developers make 40 percent more than their counterparts who work in an office. Remote employees also save money on costs like gas, professional clothes, and eating out.

6 Tips For Cultivating Discipline

The attractive aspects of telecommuting, such as the freedom to set your own hours, can also cause problems. Cultivating discipline is the key to reaping the rewards of remote work. The best remote companies to work for acknowledge the challenges of this type of work. They take care to support their employees and encourage the use of helpful strategies.

1. Plan Days Appropriately

Remote work is often more flexible than working in an office. If you can set your own schedule, it’s tempting to work only when you feel like it. However, proper planning is crucial for productivity. If you have a schedule in place, you won’t have to rely on motivation, which is notoriously fickle. Sticking to a plan will also help you minimize distractions. Put your schedule in writing so you can refer back to it. Be specific and include breaks. A written schedule may be useful to refer to when it’s time for your performance review. You can also use it to understand how long different tasks or projects take. If something takes longer than you had planned, you can adjust your schedule going forward.

2. Schedule Your Breaks Ahead Of Time

One benefit of working from home is that you can focus without the distractions of a busy office building. As a result, you might find yourself toiling for hours without a break. On the other hand, you might end up taking too many breaks. To avoid both of these problems, schedule your breaks. Set an alarm or put a notification in your calendar to remind you when it’s break time. Then, set a timer so you’ll be alerted when it's time to return to work. Remember that regular breaks are crucial for productivity. Working nonstop leads to stress and burnout, which reduces motivation over time. Sitting at a computer without moving for hours is also damaging to your physical health. Use your break to stretch, move around, and rest your eyes.

3. Enable Rewards Systems and Incentives

Rewards and incentives are a great way to keep remote workers motivated. Even if you work for yourself, you can set up a system of rewards. Incentives don’t have to be expensive; eat a snack or go for a short walk after you complete a task. If you manage remote employees, recognizing their achievements is vital. If your employees are local or travel is feasible, get together in person occasionally. Taking the team out for lunch or preparing a team building activity gives you a chance to recognize accomplishments in person. Rewards that come as a surprise can be enjoyable, too. However, a system where employees understand what to do to earn an incentive is ideal. Make sure your process aligns with your company’s values and goals.

4. Task Chunking and Project Management

Time management is one of the hardest parts of working remotely. In a remote position, it can be easy to lose track of time, making it challenging to complete all of your work. Task chunking is one popular time management strategy. It involves completing similar tasks during the same chunk of time so you can focus. A chunk can be a specific amount of time, such as an hour, or a specific day. For example, you could designate a chunk of time each morning for reading and responding to emails. The goal of time chunking is to avoid multitasking, which studies show doesn't work for most people. Another way to increase productivity is to employ project management tactics. For example, keep a spreadsheet of tasks you need to complete each day. Check off items as you complete them; this will help you stay motivated as you get things done.

5. Stick To Deliverables

Setting specific goals can help you stay motivated, which is why you should focus on what you can deliver to your clients. If you work for yourself, pay attention to the habits that lead to the best results for your clients. For example, you might find that you’re most creative and inspired in the evening. Plan your day based on when you do your best work. If you manage remote employees, make sure they understand the deliverables they’re responsible for. Go over deadlines and expectations at the beginning of a project. Keep in mind the reasons that people want to work remotely. They likely value the trust you place in them to complete tasks without micromanaging. Due to this, you should measure your employees’ performance based on what they deliver, rather than the hours they work.

6. Don’t Burn Out!

Many people choose remote work because it’s less stressful. Unfortunately, burnout is still a very real risk. If you work from home, create boundaries between your work and home life. If you have enough space, work in one designated area, such as a home office. When you leave your workspace at the end of the day, it'll be easier to switch gears. You’ll also be less tempted to grab your laptop and keep working at all hours. A lack of social interaction is another aspect of telecommuting that can lead to burnout. Schedule time regularly to connect with friends and family. Or,  join a coworking space if there’s one in your area. This will give you the opportunity to get out of the house and meet like-minded people. Keep an eye out for common signs of burnout like anxiety, fatigue, irritability, and forgetfulness. If you notice these signs, make changes to your daily structure to ensure you're getting necessary breaks and connecting with people.

Discipline Is Learned, Not Earned

If you’re new to working with remote companies, you might be frustrated by the lack of discipline. It’s wise to remember that discipline is a skill you can learn and practice. Tactics like planning your days, using rewards, and task chunking will help you build and maintain discipline. Whether you lead a remote company or another kind of small business, Fora Financial can help you succeed. Sign up for our newsletter now. [cta-newsletter]