Directors / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Erin Morris, Strategy Director at Young Folks Digital

Erin Morris is the Founder & Strategy Director at Young Folks Digital, a digital marketing agency based in Mornington, offering digital marketing strategy, content marketing and workshops & training.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

While my curriculum vitae may list off a host of marketing roles from digital marketing specialist through to head of marketing, I prefer to think of myself as a storyteller and strategist.

Unsurprisingly, strategy and storytelling have been part of my career trajectory since I was studying communication design at RMIT (yes, I’m one of those designers that ended up a marketer) where I wrote my honours year thesis on the importance of narrative in design.

Now, as the founder and director of Young Folks Digital, I develop content marketing strategies that consider the communication touchpoints that span the customer journey: from awareness to consideration, and conversion to loyalty.

I’m passionate about a new kind of business — one that isn’t just about profit, but instead understands its holistic place in today and tomorrow’s society. One that’s better for employees, better for society, and better for the planet.

That’s why I’ve made a conscious shift to only partner with conscious companies that are solving today’s problems for a brighter future. This means we’re limiting our client portfolio to brands that are ethical, sustainable, kind, slow, mindful, responsible, considered, all the good things. This MO has seen us implement more considerate HR policies and becoming a certified member of 1 Percent For The Planet.

2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

As a creative business providing a service, our skills and knowledge are our currency — without them, we have no value to deliver and therefore nothing to sell. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that we look after ourselves — as the saying goes: “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” and this is truly relevant to creatives.

Starting the day sweaty is one of my top priorities. Whether that’s a run along the beach or a pilates class, exercise in the morning always sets me up for a solid day ahead.

Then, I cruise into the studio and start my work day chatting to the baristas at Commonfolk Coffee (we’re so lucky to have one of Mornington’s hippest coffee haunts right next door to our studio).

Our team meet at 9:30am to check in on project work, flag any wins and any challenges, and set the priorities for the day. Then, from 10am to 2pm we have uninterrupted work time (aside from lunch, of course) usually to the tune of Brain.FM with some essential oils diffusing.

We’re a creative business, so it’s important that we allow ourselves space and time to get into a good creative flow — that’s when the magic happens. During this time I might work on developing a marketing strategy for a client, work through some data analysis for a recent campaign, or write content marketing copy.

After 2pm there might be meetings or more collaborative work with the team. The energy in the studio really shifts from calm to energetic at this time.

When 5pm rolls around I’m seeing off the team and writing down my list of actions and goals for the following day. After that, I head home to cook dinner with my partner Ben and unwind.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Absolutely. The future is flexible. Our whole team have the opportunity to work remotely and do so frequently. For one of our team who has a lengthy commute it means she can work remotely from home or in a co-working space for part of the working week. It’s a great way to allow people to live their best life and have a great job.

Having said that, we do get so much benefit from having face-to-face time, even with all the latest video conferencing technology it’s hard to replace the energy someone brings to a physical space.

Flexible working has allowed for me to work in Byron Bay recently, and earlier this year I ran the company from Austin Texas and Los Angeles California for a couple of weeks.

Trust, compassion, balance, and good technology are key. We make it work.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

Sure do. First thing? Get everything out of email and into a project management tool. Email is such an awesome communication tool, but it can be so distracting, which is why it’s important to have project or task management separate from emails.

I try to align my work with my energetic flow as much as possible — meaning if I am most creative in the morning or late at night, I’ll allow myself time and space in those parts of the day to do my creative or strategic thinking.

We also implement 10am ’til 2pm as “focus” time in our studio — a time that we don’t interrupt each other during deep focus or creative flows.

5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

For me, work-life balance is a bit of a curious concept as work is a part of life — it can’t really be separated. And if we try, does that mean work is no good and real living happens outside of work? Kinda seems like we’re setting ourselves up to fail if we buy into the concept.

Rather, I like to honour that my work is a part of my life and be grateful for the opportunity to serve others and make a difference through my business. And, of course, ensure I’m doing other things outside of work like spending time with friends and family, exercising and keeping active, and spending time in nature and in my garden.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

Such a good question. And there’s definitely a few things that I’ve learnt and developed over the years.

A big one is not being ruled by email. Which means getting tasks out of the inbox and into a project management tool.

Another “balance hack” I love (and have imparted on my team) is getting everything for the day on paper then prioritising and time-boxing tasks — kind of like the Pomodoro Technique. I’ve found this allows me to be really focussed on what I need to achieve.

Finally, exercise and healthy eating have played a huge role in my ability to operate effectively as a creative and a leader. It seems counter-intuitive to step away from work when the deadlines are real and the pressure is on — but actually, making space to exercise and eat well tends to fuel my creativity and productivity. Running on adrenaline will only get you so far — and is almost always followed by burnout.

7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Start the day sweaty and timebox tasks before commencing any work.

If you found the above conversation helpful and inspiring, be sure to check out Balance the Grind’s guide to achieving a healthy work-life balance.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.