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Administrative assistants and executive assistants have a unique set of time management challenges. In essence, as a support professional, your time is not your own. Your job is (primarily) to help others accomplish their goals. Therefore, when they need something, you’re supposed to drop what you’re doing and help. To make matters worse, they often need things that are both unexpected and urgent. Simply closing your door and focusing on your own priorities isn’t an option. All of this can make time management feel like a nearly impossible task!
But take heart, my dear admin friend. There are strategies that will help you make the most of your time, while still being appropriately responsive to the needs of the people you support.
- Plan your day…even if the plan will never be kept.
Having a plan is always better than not having a plan—even if that plan is totally shot by 9AM. That might sound counterintuitive, but here’s the reasoning behind this advice: Your day might get totally thrown off-track the moment you walk in the door, but at some point during the day, you will (more than likely) find yourself taking a breath and saying, “Okay, now that the fires are all put out, what’s next?” That’s when you turn to your plan.
Without that plan in place, you won’t know what your top priorities are. You’ll have to stop and figure it out in the moment—and by that point, you’ll already be a little tired. You won’t be in the best mindset to make smart prioritization decisions. You could spend a good chunk of your day trying to figure out what you should be focused on, and getting sucked into low-priority tasks because they’re right in front of you. Meanwhile, you’re not making progress on your real priority items.
With a plan already in place, you don’t have any decisions to make. You just start working on priority number one. Even if that’s all you get to, you’ll know that you spent your limited time in the best way possible. You didn’t waste it trying to figure out what to focus on.
In general, the fewer decisions you have to make during the day, the better. Research shows that, without a plan, a lot of time is wasted in the decision-making process that happens between tasks. Make your decisions (create your plan) at the end of the day before or first thing in the morning (at home, before you’ve reached the office).
This is an excerpt from the special report, “Time Management for Admins” available exclusively to members of the Career Resource Library. Join today and get immediate access to this report plus more than 100 additional career development resources including webinar replays, training videos, downloadable workbooks, self-assessment quizzes and more. Become a member today and take your career to the next level.