Phew! It appears January arrived early this year, just as things were starting to slow down a bit – holiday marketing campaigns launched, holiday parties past, finally the food is settling in our stomachs. January is a good time to look back at how we handled the seemingly perpetual time crunch from October through December. It serves as a smart reference to where things could be improved upon or how to gain an improved work/life balance going forward.
Hello 2020, it’s all about structure. Learning how to fine tune your time management skills lays the foundation for success in 2020. Not only will this help you, but it will help your Executive – it’s a key element of the strategic partnership. As a successful team, you must be on the same page to help foster that cohesive relationship with your Executive. Here are 10 collected Points of Wisdom (POW):
POW #1. Plan ahead
It may seem like common sense to mention this one, but many people go about their days without intention. They navigate on-the-fly, and even the most experienced EA can forget things now and then. Preparation is key, so laying events and goals out in advance means that you can anticipate and plan to meet any needs ahead of time.
Start with making a list of everything you want to accomplish at work the next day and figure out what will be the best time to finish each task. This shouldn’t be limited to only work tasks, but also anything that you need to take care of in your personal life as well, so there are no obstacles keeping you from success.
POW #2. Prepare to Reassess
Even if you think you have a solid plan set, new projects and deadlines will likely arise throughout the day. When this happens, stay calm and simply re-assess your day. You will need to take the time to adjust your schedule accordingly and plan out how you will accomplish your new tasks. You may feel like you don’t have time to stop and think about how you will get things done, but believe me, taking 30 minutes to plan will pay off in the end; you will actually save time because you will know how to handle everything that comes your way with ease.
POW #3. Prioritize
Priorities tell us where to start, or what to focus on. It is extremely important when you are planning your day, because if things start to become overwhelming or get out of hand, you just focus on the priority. You want to tackle the toughest, most important or urgent project first, so you can ensure they are done and done well. As a bonus, you won’t have to worry about them for the rest of the day! Next, schedule in the rest of your tasks including certain blocks of time to answer phone calls and emails; keep to these times to eliminate unnecessary distractions (this means staying off your cell phone too!). You may have to fight the urge to respond to an email the second you see the mail icon pop up in the corner of your computer screen, but it is for a good cause. Pauses or turn off notifications if you need to.
POW #4. Breaking It Down
Things are much easier for your mind to manage, compartmentalize and digest when they are broken down into individual tasks rather than a whole. Not only will this allow you to schedule your day better, but it will keep you from feeling overwhelmed from the size of what you must complete. For example, which of these statements sounds better to you? “I have to plan an entire in-service for my company in addition to my daily tasks and I’m not sure how I’m going to do it,” or “This morning I need to look at catering options for our in-service, and after that is complete I will start researching possible guest speakers.” Frankly, thinking about the first statement makes my heart rate increase, while the latter seems completely manageable.
POW #5. Keep Your Calendar Nearby
Whether you like the good ole’ paper bound planners, your digital calendar app, or a mix of the two, it is practically life-saving to utilize your calendar. It ensures that you are not double booking, it gives you the opportunity to plan things in advance, and it can give you a big picture view of where your time is going / has gone in the past. It’s a fantastic tool to keep you on track with your planning.
POW #6. Keep your desk clear
You may have your to do lists and schedule in order, but to be your best your desk should be in order too. It is a scientific fact that your environment affects your mindset. If your desk is cluttered, so is your headspace. Aside from allowing you to put as little stress on your plate as possible, having everything in its own place allows you to find things swiftly. So when you are scheduling out your week, make sure to block off time to re-organize your work space; you may want to do this on Fridays when it can often be less busy, and this will also allow you to start the next week off with a clean slate… literally.
POW #7. Do Not Disturb
If you absolutely cannot be disturbed while working on a project, do not be afraid to put up a “do not disturb” sign on your countertop or on your door, if you have an office, to let your co-workers know that you are on a tight deadline and won’t be available for a bit. This is also a great practice with your email or cellphone, as mentioned before. You can pause notifications from apps, email, phone calls, etc. for just enough time to dive into those important tasks that demand the most focus.
POW #8. Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”
We all want to be team players but sometimes being too much of a good sport can cause you to be overwhelmed. It is, without a doubt, impossible to say “yes” to everything that comes your way. In order to manage your time effectively there will be times when you have to say “no.” Choose which tasks are the most significant and will have the biggest impact on you and your work and say yes to those; say no to those that will not. You can be polite when declining invitations or ideas or may even be able to come back to them at a later time. If there are too many things that you feel are extremely important and need to be done, it may be time to delegate.
POW #9. Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
We all find ourselves in those situations or projects that truly require an extra set (or two) of hands. I find the best way to delegate is to politely reach out to members of your team, explain how you are feeling, and simply ask for help. If you are willing to take the time to explain why you are asking for help and what a great impact your co-workers will have, they will likely be more than happy to help you. If you ask for help, however, you need to trust in others to do the job you have asked of them. Feeling as if you should be watching over their shoulders likely means that you didn’t choose the best fit to assist, or that possibly the project is too important and should be handled directly by you.
POW #10. Reflect
At the end of the day and at the end of each project take some time to reflect on what was accomplished. What worked and what didn’t? Were the deadlines that were set realistic or should they be adjusted for the next project? Did you ultimately reach your goal? This will allow you to re-prioritize, adjust your scheduling, and set yourself up for success in the future.
Thank you for reading my blogs and posts. Your shares and likes keep me inspired.
Up-Coming Silicon Valley Events:
Star Meteor™ One-Day Elite Administrative Professionals Training
February 21, May 8, August 26, November 5, 2020 (DETAILS)
Star Achievement Series® — ( Level l ) Four-Day
Certification & Designation Course conveniently spread out one day every 3-4 weeks.
February 20, March 12, April 9, May 7, 2020 (DETAILS)
World Class Assistant™ (WCA) Three-Day Certification & Designation Course – Silicon Valley
April 6-8, October 6-8 (DETAILS)