I’m Not a Gatekeeper, I’m a Timekeeper

I'm a Timekeepr

I have a fantasy.

No, not that kind.

The kind where I stand in front of the full roster of attendees for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference and I share my brilliant! understanding of the administrative profession.

You see, with all the moving parts of the economic world of HR, recruiting, employee engagement– the front line is being forgotten when it comes to updating and re-writing the job descriptions and expectations of today’s administrative professional. Mind you, I do fundamentally understand the challenges of what type of support the company requests vs. what the job really needs vs. what the pay scale is vs. the vast swath of candidate/applicants for the position.  Please allow me to first address the term: GATEKEEPER.

Let me be clear. Executive Assistants| Administrative Assistants|Receptionists are not gatekeepers contrary to popular belief and the delightful, sometimes patronizing, verbiage from unsuccessful sales calls to the office. We are not gatekeepers;we are timekeepers.

TIME IS MONEY- Benjamin Franklin

It is the administrative professional’s key purpose/raison d’être  to save staff time. Whether it be a cold call at the front desk in person or a caller that cannot provide exact detail as to what they need– it is my job, my peer’s job to do the right thing and SAVE time for our managers. It is not my decision as to whether you’ll be able to meet with my manager or speak with my manager– that call is his/hers. However, it is my responsibility to carefully measure the intent and value of the interruption, and to assist the caller or visitor in getting the best chance of getting their information to the decision-makers.

So, please do not call me a gatekeeper. I prefer to think of the members of our profession as timekeepers. Or, better yet, time savers. And by that correlation, we become money savers and companies would be better served to see the administrative profession that way.

An Admin and the TaskList – Many methods, Same goal

I love lists. Every successful admin I know works with lists. They may use Outlook tasks or a composition notebook or their PDA, but they all use one.

The goal is to not drop the ball, miss the one little detail that is oh, so important. Recall the character in Devil Wears Prada… the admin always has a notebook in hand.

I recently switched up to a 180 page/college ruled/spiral notebook to keep track of my assignments at the temporary position I’m working. I’m covering quite a bit of ground…and it feels fantastic to check/cross/highlight items as they are completed.

Once or twice a week though, I email my supervisor with a task update- it’s separated into these sections:

  • Completed- including completion dates
  • In process- tasks that are still being worked on..and what is keeping it from being done
  • Need additional information- either I need additional info from my supervisor or it requires direction on next steps
  • Long term- what big tasks do I see coming up in the next 2-4 weeks.

This has been a very successful tool for me and allows my supervisor to add items, re-prioritize items or acknowledge all that’s been accomplished.

Attention Deficit? Or Just Super Busy?

I finally thought I better check out the symptoms of ADHD. You know, that Attention-Deficit Disorder ailment? It is no laughing matter.. because I have family members that suffer from it. Truly suffer.

Now, I know I say this tongue-in-cheek, but sometimes I really feel like I may need to be medicated for it.. I mean.. some days at work /home/ and as a mom.. I feel way distracted! And focusing becomes an olympic effort. Thank GOD! I have a door on my office. I am so grateful.

Lastly, as an admin.. I know the beauty and sheer necessity of task lists and email rules in Outlook. They are a key to survival.

Now.. if I could just kick that really bad caffeine habit I have……