A few years ago I was working as an EA in a large insurance firm. I’d been there a few years, I know the job inside out, I liked my colleagues and the work was okay. I would go into work every day, do my thing and leave at 5.30pm without a backwards glance. Good times, right? Well, actually no. Not for me. If truth be told I was really bored and completely unmotivated. It wasn’t like I was quite stuck in a rut but I certainly wasn’t going to get a promotion anytime soon or be offered any exciting work because I was pretty much cruising. What made it worse is that my boss at the time was very astute and knew that I could be doing more if I basically got my ass into gear. It all came to head during one of our quarterly reviews (thankfully not our annual review!) She asked what was up and after a long talk we figured out that I was really lacking motivation and the only way I was going to get more interesting and exciting work was if I sorted myself out. Pronto! I didn’t want to leave the organisation (they had a free canteen – there was no way I was leaving!) so I had to work out how to get motivated again and regain some of the excitement I felt when I first started in the role. It actually was pretty easy and now when I’m feeling demotivated I use the same techniques to build myself up again. So here goes, here are some methods to kick start your motivation:
Kick start your motivation
Motivation is such a personal thing. It is the thing that gets you up in the morning, it is your passions and your dreams. So, here are some of my quick tips on kick starting your motivation when really you just want to get back under the duvet…
- Make the boring tasks more fun: As office professionals we all have boring tasks. So I always always make sure I listen to music. Fun music (think ‘What a Feeling’ from Flashdance or really anything by Wham!) I did this when I was processing expenses, printing board papers or anything else that, let’s be honest, sucked, but needed to be done. This made the tasks much more fun and didn’t suck the life out of my very soul.
- Be Accountable: This was a big one for me and something that my Boss said to me. I was lacking motivation in a lot of ways because I didn’t really see the benefit that I was adding to the organsation. I was doing my work but just felt like a cog in the machine. It was unbelievable the difference I felt when I really started to be accountable for my work and my part of the little world in which I worked (as it turned out, it was a pretty big world). Be accountable for your work, think about why you do what you do and get behind the ethos of the organisation.
- Take a break: Take a break and go and make your self a cup of tea, take a break and have a walk outside, take a break and go over to speak to your favourite colleague, take a break by booking some vacation time, either to be at home or go travel somewhere. Breaks are the most necessary thing because they help you to refocus and think.
- Change your routine: I generally love routines but if your current one isn’t quite working then think about changing it up a little bit. Maybe you go to the gym after work, why not introduce a morning spin class instead? See what happens to your motivation during the day? If exercise isn’t your thing, how about making sure you take one lunchtime a week to go shopping or see a friend?
- To do lists, people: I’m really not going to say it again! Okay I am… Have a to do list. Seeing everything that you have to do visually is a great way to stay motivated. Get competitive with yourself! How many tasks can you tick off in a day?
- Wear something new to work: Okay, I know this is a bit random but I love clothes and I always really liked wearing something new into the office and I just tended to feel better that day. If your motivation is taking a bit of a battering, sometimes just treating yourself to something nice helps kick start those feeling again.
- Read a book: I’m a big believer in self help books. Okay, they often tell us stuff we already know but the really good ones give advice that you can implement into your life and career. Whatever the reason is that you are lacking motivation, there will be a book that can help! Here is a good list to get started.
- Take on a new challenge: For me, the first thing I do when I’m feeling demotivated so look for a new challenge. I absolutely thrive when I had a goal and some deadlines in place. This is in all aspects of my life and why I constantly sign up to do races because I just won’t go out for a run otherwise. So in work, put your head above the parapet and take on some extra responsibility. Just don’t neglect all the other stuff you have to do! But a new project might do you some good.
- Network: Talking to other people about your experiences are a brilliant way to kick start your motivation and to share the pain points (and the brilliant things) about being an Assistant. Go find your tribe and do some networking. or if that’s not your thing, talk to the other Assistants in your office. You will soon see that your experiences are similar.
- Get some really good objectives: Following the conversation with my Boss I had a really good think about what actually motivates me and what I wanted from career. This took a while but once I had some ideas I made sure I set some really good objectives to help me achieve them. Once my Executive saw what I had planned she offered to pay for some training to help me get there. Hello, project management qualification!
- Think about all the things you have accomplished: My motivation can take a knock when I get stuck in the inertia of detail and all the tasks that seem to take forever. Sometimes I have to stop and think about how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved and then I get my mojo back and can get through stuff. Even if the wins are small, you should own them and use them to kick start your motivation.
- Do stuff that makes you happy: Lastly, do stuff that makes you happy and that you are passionate about. Try and find projects at work that make you excited. If you don’t have anything that puts fire in your belly, go and ask for something because you should be motivated at work and your organisation should want motivated staff!