The Balancing Act: Organizing Your Work/Life Time Management

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer

The stress of 2020 can be a bit overwhelming, and as an assistant it may seem like you are running in a million directions to keep everything organized, but taking control of your work/life balance is the greatest gift you can give yourself this year.

All full-time professionals can benefit from a healthy balance in their workplace and home life even in a time without COVID-19. According to Ellen Kossek, a professor of human resource management and organizational behavior at Michigan State University, “It’s a partnership, but management has the bigger responsibility for admins’ work-life balance, because how work is structured affects the ability of admins to have balance.” There are several ways to ensure that the Executive you work for prioritizes your time management, a major factor that goes into a healthy work/life balance as an Executive Assistant.

Work Schedule Boundaries

Setting boundaries when it comes to your work schedule is an important way to maintain time management as a busy Assistant. The best time to do this is before beginning or early on in your career and specific position so management knows what works best for you and you do not end up in a position that causes mental strain due to lack of understanding. It may also be necessary to remind the Executive you work for that it’s important for an Executive Assistant to take time for him or herself to relax if it is expected that they stay healthy enough to uphold high quality work when given many important tasks.

Minimizing your time with technology is also important to maintaining a healthy work/life balance through time management. We all love the different communication gadgets and devices modern-day technology has given us, but it is important to specify when individuals from work can use it to contact you. On the same lines, it is best to find a way to both be competent and responsive to emails, text messages, and phone calls while avoiding the phenomenon of your inbox and phone controlling your life. When speaking about answering emails, Jim Bird, CEO of WorkLifeBalance.com, a resource many of you should research, reminds readers that “Just because it’s convenient for the boss to get them out then, it doesn’t mean they expect an immediate response.”

Make Backup Plans

Executive Assistants play a role for his or her family and people in their personal lives that is just as important as his or her career role. It is inevitable that a personal issue will rise and cause an interruption in your work day, which is why it is smart to make backup plans in both your work and home lives to assure that responsibilities are taken care of in both environments. Be proactive and give management, coworkers, along with your family and friends a list of the priorities you have for that week, both professionally and personally. Collaboration and being flexible to change these priorities based on another person’s priorities will also give balance to your time management, rather than having to help another person accomplish their priorities later. Executives often rely on the skills of his or her Executive Assistants. In order to avoid a pile of incomplete tasks waiting for you when you return to work after taking a day or so off to deal with a crisis in your personal life, it helps to leave cheat sheets or instructions for management. Kevin Wilson, coauthor of Administrative Assistant’s and Secretary’s Handbook, gives a clear example of one of these cheat sheets when he says “Make sure your managers know how to do things like book a meeting room.”

An article on monster.com entitled Seven Ways Admins Can Maintain Work-Life Balance, written by John Rossheim, Monster Senior Contributing Writer, advises “Backup arrangements and rules about work schedules are examples of management and HR policies that can constrain an admin’s ability to maintain balance.” There are a couple resources included in the above mentioned article that will help Executive Assistants maintain a healthy work/life balance, which is especially important during times of drastic change now that there is a global pandemic and everything is virtual. One of these resources includes the book Ellen Kossek is a coauthor of, CEO of Me: Creating a Life that Works in the Flexible Job Age. A final resource from this article Executive Assistants should research is Workplace Options, which provides work-life programs to employers.

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer