Time to Focus

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Reporting in!

I am startled at how fast the days fly by  in my new job. Today, my co-worker pointed out that I’ve been in my new role for several months! It’s been an onslaught of new vocabulary, new team dynamics, new everything. It’s all a blur. Now, it’s time to focus.

The picture above is a coloring book picture which resides on my cubicle wall. (Yes, I colored it!) It reminds me to focus on where I am. It prods me,  Put your efforts into learning and mastering as much about your new job responsibilities as possible, and you’ll be successful.

Although I have a million things running through my mind most of the day, I’ve really tried to use my own best practices to focus. I rely on these methods to reel me back in when my day starts to unravel.

  1. Reconfirm task due dates. My new position has SO many projects with start and end dates. Mind-boggling. Reconfirming dates allows me to better budget and manage my time.
  2. Headphones with NO music. Basically, ear plugs. They help ward off distraction.Keep me on task.
  3. Headphones with music on – so I can remain energized when working on repetitive tasks I’ve got to get done.
  4. An organized desk. An absolute. When I leave at night, my to-do list and calendar for the next day are right in front. They jolt me into action before the caffeine kicks in. Also, having (paper and digital) folders, utilizing consistent file naming conventions. My desk is a mess during the day. It’s lovely first thing in the morning and when I head home for the night.
  5. Jot down questions in a notebook. Many times a day I’ll have a light bulb moment. I must write it down but, not be distracted by it. Writing it in my notebook daily allows me to remember it. [You know, I NEVER remember something if I tell myself, ” Oh, I’ll remember this. I don’t need to write it down.” WRONG!]  I love this because I can pull the notebook with me into any team meeting or 1-on-1 with my new supervisor, get answers and lessen the odds of repeating mistakes.
  6. OneNote. Keeping OneNote open with my annual review tab. When I learn something new or take on a new task, into the notebook it goes. Again. Not having to remember these things six months after the fact and once it is there, it is off the train track in my head. I also use it to document the steps I take for certain tasks. Brilliant start to a procedures manual. (That’s another blog post for another day.)
  7. Take my lunch break. So much easier to focus when I get away from my desk to eat or go out for fresh air. Vital.
  8. Limit surf time (Squirrel!). It’s too easy to go from article to article, site to site. Next thing you  know, you’ve lost 30 minutes.
  9. Recognizing when my brain is done for the day and make the switch to getting myself ready for the next day.

Stay rooted. Stay focused. Bloom where you are planted.

You’ve Got to Plan ahead… To Get Ahead

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Want to be successful in the administrative career field?

  • Dress professionally
  • Show up on time—you’d think this would be a given…..
  • Ask questions—but try to group them for more efficient use of your supervisor’s time
  • Work ahead a minimum of two weeks on your calendar, especially in the summer when staff is on vacation. You’ll want to get answers from them before they leave the office
  • Keep a singular location to-do list of tasks and set reminders on your calendar the day prior
  • Confirm with your supervisor if there is ANY reason or pressing issue that needs to be addressed during off-hours and how do they want it communicated to them: text, email, voicemail?

Certainly there are many more skills and attributes to being a successful administrative professional, but the one that stands out the most to me is planning ahead – It is vital to anticipate what is going to be needed or completed!

If you’re not certain how to implement a work ahead/plan ahead strategy, reach out to the peers you admire in the field and ask for their suggestions.

Do you have a strategy you’d like to share? Post it here in the comments section.

Taking on the Tap Dance…. of Two Bosses

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Skip.. Drag your toe… Hop. Heel. Toe. Heel. Toe.

Nope… not really dancing on stage.. but dancing, sometimes tip-toeing through administrative challenges. One must be light on their feet! Gently! Tap around the awkward issues… Skip forward to get to what has to get done. Do the work. Heel. Toe. Heel. Toe.

Repeat.

Having only taken tap dance as part of PE requirement in 6th grade.. I cannot say for sure that working with two equally ranked bosses is like tap dancing.. but I have a hunch I could be right.

Working in an environment with more than one supervisor always has the potential for challenges. The supervisors could have different priorities (for the same project!), communication styles, expectations, work schedules and heck, they could probably be of a different gender, age and/or lifestyle.

The key to survival for this assignment is to learn the routine. That’s right. Learn each routine until you know it cold. You can ask for practice time, but know that certain times are a full stage performance, ie.. Board Meetings. More and more executive assistants and administrative assistants are being assigned as support to multiple persons. Some EAs are assigned to support more than one senior level management slot. (Stay tuned for an article on how recruiters are seeking admins that can support more than two executives.)

If you take the time to learn each of the supervisors preferences and organize your work to go with their schedules, the dance becomes easier and more fun. For example, if one boss travels predominantly to the West Coast, schedule your calls and follow up with that supervisor onto your Outlook calendar in the afternoon. It can be quite humiliating to accidentally call your supervisor from the East Coast at 9am when it’s 6am at the Westin in LA. Eek! This allows you to also gather issues as they arise during the day.

Your other supervisor, may be at the PGA Resort and Spa in West Palm Beach, Florida with an afternoon tee at 2pm. Schedule the morning to review the list of items you need answers to, actions that need to be taken or calls that need to be returned. Using this time gives you the afternoon to work on issues with your supervisor in the West. That only leaves about .. say, 1 1-1/2 hours to organize in between and get some lunch into your hungry stomach.

Take some time at the end of every day- to look at each calendar and try to make the most of your day by utilizing the calendar.

It takes time. It takes effort. It takes patience and practice. Lastly, it takes great communication. Be certain to touch base with your supervisors at least once a day with a running list of what you are working on- putting it in email seems to work best for this running list. This reassures them that you have their items on a list AND will jog their memory if one of the items has to be moved on the priority list.