Being an Administrative Assistant means that your time needs to be managed wisely. An assistant never does a single task at one time. Multi-tasking is necessary to be a good assistant. A typical day in the life of the Administrative Assistant means that she is on the phone with a vendor, instant messaging a remote co-worker, and answering an email…all at once! This daily routine gets stressful, hectic, and causes burnout.
When researching resources on how to manage time effectively, one theme always stands out: Focus on results. Work smarter, not harder. Concentrate on the tasks that matter and avoid busy work. What makes the Administrative Assistant unique is the fact that her job IS the busy work! That is why she exists, to take the busy work from her boss or group so they can concentrate on the results and work smarter.
So how can Administrative Assistants manage their time more effectively? Here are some tips:
Create To-Do Lists
If an assistant does nothing else to manage her time, she needs to create a list. Since most assistants' jobs are task-oriented, this is critical. For some admins, this may be all that they need. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. It can be a simple as a spiral notebook with the date at the top and a list of tasks. When the task is done, cross it off. Having a dated list of tasks in one place is also a good reference tool because a manager is bound to ask if something has been completed or not.
Schedule Time for Yourself
One of the assistant's main tasks is usually to schedule meetings and maintain her boss' calendar. The assistant is usually so busy worrying about her boss' schedule that she doesn't stop and think about her own. It is ok for assistants to schedule time for themselves to get things done. Pick a time that is usually quiet, like a Friday afternoon or when most of the managers are in a weekly meeting. Use this time to regroup, update your task list, and plan ahead. This time is precious, as assistants can spend whole days 'putting out fires' and never have time to get to their own work.
Just Say No!
Some assistants support only one or two executives, while other assistants support entire departments. The ones that support entire departments have an additional challenge of prioritizing tasks, as they usually have a boss or manager that comes first. It is easy to get overloaded when trying to help everyone, so sometimes we have to learn to say no. Sometimes it is necessary to teach employees how to do things for themselves. It may take a little extra time but it will pay off in the long run. If the employee protests, the assistant can remind him that the boss is the number one priority. This especially works when the employee also reports to the same boss that the assistant does, which is usually the case.
This tip would have been first on the list, but…
Procrastination happens even to the best of us. It needs to be accepted that every job, no matter how enjoyable, has those few tasks that make us cringe. Short of sub-contracting the task to someone else, just take a deep breath and do it. If the task is being put off because you don't feel that you have the right resources or skills to do it, then take a deep breath and speak up. Administrative Assistants especially need to ask questions. Better to speak up and do it correctly than guess and do it wrong. With guessing you may hurt your credibility.
Managing time can sometimes be difficult, but with practice it will become a habit. To be a successful Administrative Assistant, it is necessary to have exceptional time management skills.