Rob Goodswen   —   2 December 2014   —   Opinion

Demotivated cat - 5 ways to tackle demotivation

Around this time last year, Access announced a charity partnership with 42nd Street, a Manchester based charity that supports young people under stress. Since then, as a company we’ve all gained a bit more knowledge of what people who struggle with stress related issues go through. Everyone is different, meaning we all deal with the strain of everyday life in different ways.

Last week I had one of those, can’t drag yourself out of bed, not wanting to iron your clothes kind of weeks. There were even a couple of days when I didn’t do my hair. I wasn’t feeling ill, nothing terrible had happened, I was just a bit glum. I’m not the first person to struggle with a bad week, we all have them. Realising I was a bit down, I reached out to some of my brilliant friends to ask what keeps them motivated and in writing this blog, with their help, I’m feeling a lot better.

For anyone else feeling a little low, hopefully this blog will give you a few different ideas to change your outlook and fill your motivation tanks back up to full capacity.

Set short term challenges in the morning…then reward yourself

In a world full of Buzzfeed, memes and Beyonce it’s easy to get distracted! I find that by having a list of mini challenges I can get a lot more from my social surfing. I’m usually in the office a little before our official start time of 9:15 and this gives me the time to:

From that point on I know that I can focus on my tasks for the agency, helping me start the day off on the right footing. This is something echoed by Laura Thomas, Head of Social at Return On Digital: “Set clear, prioritised goals at the beginning of the day – make sure you know exactly what you want to achieve within the time you have at work.” If you’re a coffee person, get the kettle on and reward yourself following the completion of your mini challenges with a steaming glorious cup of java.

Knowing your long term goals and setting yourself up accordingly

Long term goals can be daunting, who knows what’s going to happen in six minutes time let alone six months. But a plan for long term ambition can give you that landmark to aim for. Knowing what you want to achieve but not necessarily how to do it can be motivation enough.

Director of Love at theEword Rachel Bell, has carved out a fledgling career here in Manchester following a move from her home town of Scunthorpe aged just 18: “I remember having a conversation with my brother after finishing college about what I was going to do next, university wasn’t for me, I didn’t want to just go for the sake of it and I sure as hell wasn’t going to sit around and sponge off my mum and dad. I knew I wanted to work in either digital or marketing and Scunthorpe definitely has nothing worth sticking around for so I set my sights on Manchester. It was a tough time, my first internship fell through, I was almost ready to pack up and head home to Scunthorpe when theEword called offering me a job.” From knowing what she wanted, putting it into practice and learning from her mistakes has made Rachel who she is today. We can all be guilty of lacking ambition from time to time. I think Rachel’s story is one that we can all take heart from. A long term goal, be it big or small, can certainly help to help your motivation. Failing that, just give Rachel a call, her natural enthusiasm is totally infectious.

Another youngster making tracks in the agency scene, all be it over in Liverpool is Rob Watts. Rob worked as part of a social team I headed up last year for Variety, the Children's Charity and I was immediately struck by his confidence and enthusiasm: “I've always been fascinated by marketing, really interested in how these big marketing campaigns we see on TV, online and offline are created and carried out. I guess the thing that motivates me is the fact that one day I'll hopefully be behind a campaign on a big scale, or even the brains behind it.” I have no doubt that Rob has the drive to make a big splash in the industry, shame about that football team of his.

Offering a helping hand

Having worked as a classroom assistant for many years prior to my big career change into social I find that I am always content with helping others to get past a problem or to improve their knowledge. Ever the class clown (official title, Newsome High School Class of 99’) I’m always trying to gee the office up with a bit of a laugh and a joke. Perhaps it’s a cliché, but helping others can really help you.

This sentiment is something recognised by Digital Marketing Executive at Pixel8, Sian Ediss. Sian suggests that: “When I can see a colleague is feeling a bit blue, offering to make a brew and sneaking some chocolate their way and asking what music they'd like on works a treat too. If I’ve read something I’ve found useful, I might pass it on to one of the team I feel might get something from it. I’m driven by feedback, good or bad, that can help me improve and up my game. If I can do the same for somebody, then it’s a double win For me, Sian is bang on the money. Being able to help out in a small way can have a large impact on your daily motivation. If you can help to improve a colleague’s mood and work flow as a result, then you’re in business.

Using your team

Look around you. Your fellow colleagues can be a great source of motivation. The world of recruitment can be a competitive place but both Will Jarvis and Ash Loofe at MRJ Recruitment suggest that their team at MRJ is a great source of Motivation. Will says that: “Seeing them (colleagues) doing well can occasionally be hard as you can ask ‘why isn't it happening for me?’ But you can flip that and say ‘if they can do it, I can do it’. The motivation factor behind the second statement is what drives me on”. Whilst Ash adds: “It’s great to get the guys en masse for some staff bonding, knowing we’re all on the same team helps us move forward together”. 

Perhaps changing the internal structure of your team might help to lift spirits and increase motivation within your team. Gabi Iskandar, Digital Marketing Exec at Space48 told me that: “It's good to have a dynamic team of different personalities around you, each with their own area of expertise but happy to help out. We are really transparent over here, we plan our workload out on a kanban board on the wall, so it's really easy to tell if someone is struggling or firing away. We have daily stand-ups which helps with the team communication” Overall awareness of the team around you can help you be better and also lend a hand if somebody is struggling.

For Laura Thomas, following the inception of ‘Social Corner’, her goal was to build a team whom she can thrive off and get the best results from. Her theory makes total sense: “I want to be the best. I’m surrounded by the best people. You can’t stop learning and working if there’s someone snapping at your heels.”

Home is, ultimately, where the heart is

Friends of mine who are reading this will know I’m completely and utterly in love with my little cat, Sparrow. She lives with me and my girlfriend Rosie in our newly bought house, in Huddersfield. Call me weird but I get the most motivation for finishing my daily tasks in the knowledge that I can go home and see my little pal, even if she does largely ignore my affection and bite my feet.

The importance of having something to focus on outside of work is the knowledge that your hard work will benefit your time outside of work. Will at MRJ agrees: “Number one in my list of priorities is my family. Having recently become a dad for the first time, being able to treat them rather than just get by, is a great motivator for me.”

Having a support structure at home, be it family, friends or a little fur ball is vital for the days when you’ve been on the road. Space 48’s Gabi suggests: “Having great family, friends, partners around you helps, always great to go home to and chill out if it's been a hard day, even if work has been fine, the traffic can really get you down after a long day”.

For me, the strains of social can take their toll. Its constant change can become spellbinding, leading to long hours. I’m glad I’m not the only person who retreats back to a ball of fluff, like Laura: “Something worth going home to is essential, because if you’re a real social person, it’s so easy to work all night. But if you’ve got a gorgeous puppy – you’ve got something to clearly define work-time and play-time”.

Baxter is gorgeous. Fact.

I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to this blog. You really helped me out last week.

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