Today’s Day in the life is with Donna Lindsay, who is a PA with the Scottish Government. Donna recently spoke at the Assist Conference and had loads of advice for the audience on how to deal with confidential matters and remain discrete. Donna also won last year’s Scottish PA of the Year. Here is a day in the life: Donna Lindsay.  

What are the main aspects of your role?

Supporting Senior Management with PA assistance in helping develop legislation for the Scottish Government.


What is your morning routine before you get into the office?

My daughter has a horse so I help take care of ‘Rosie’ and cover the morning duty. I get up at 5.15 am and pull on warm clothes over my PJs. I drive to the stables, feed Rosie, put him out into the field then muck out her stable.  I arrive home about 6.30 am, have a shower, dry my hair, etc. Then make the packed lunches. I do some housework, laundry etc. As I am getting ready and putting on my make-up. I run out to the car about 7.30 am eating my toast!

What time do you get into the office and what time do you leave?

I arrive at the office around 8am and leave around 5pm, I work Flexi hours so it really is dependent on the work and life needs. Flexi is ideal!

What does an average day look like?

The minute I arrive at work I have a quick look at my calendar, then make up my to do list. Working for Scottish Government requires quite a bit of travel between offices so in one day I can be in Ayrshire, Glasgow and Edinburgh. I can honestly say no 2 days are the same. Like all other PA’s I book lunches, travel arrangements, hotels and meeting rooms.   I currently work in an area that deals with ministerial correspondence and court review work so I am involved in drafting responses to the public, solicitors, MSP’s and accountants.  Before I leave the office, I check over my calendar for the next 10 days to ensure I am familiar with not just what is happening tomorrow, but I am also prepared and reminded of what is happening in the near future.

What do you do for lunch?

Some days I eat my lunch on a train if I am travelling but I like it most when I am in my own office and have lunch in our kitchen area with my friends.  I work in a very social team and once a month we go out for lunch which promotes great team building.

What is the hardest part of your day?

Apart from resisting all the cakes and sweets in the office it is probably ensuring that I am managing my time efficiently

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The variety of work and responsibility I have been entrusted with.

What has been your career highlight?

There are several but the main ones are being recognised as the ACES PA of the Year and some stuff I did whilst working as a Customs Officer before being a PA.

What do you do in the evening with your spare time?

I am happiest when hanging around with my children and husband. The family, excluding me, is very sporty so I spend many hours at football matches and horse shows.  We live by the coast and really enjoy the outdoor life.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to other assistants?

Being organised well in advance is the key role. Do not put anything off until tomorrow wherever possible as you have no idea what tomorrow is going to throw at you!

What would you do if you were not an assistant?

I would like to have been a primary school teacher, but now I would say retired!!

What is the one piece of technology, app or website you could not do your job without?


Can you recommend any events, books, publications, websites, training programmes for other assistants?

The 2 conferences I would highly recommend are Assist Conference &  ACES Conference. Regarding training I would recommend every PA undertakes time management, assertiveness and minute taking courses.