Although the role of an Assistant can be incredibly varied, there are certain aspects that all of us will face at some point in our career.
We all have similar experiences in the workplace… Yes, I do know where the photocopier is… No, I can’t fix the paper jam…
And then there are the competencies that we all need to get the job done.
Let’s face it, most of us will weekly (if not a daily basis) have to work through several tasks within a specific timeframe.
Some are the usual routine tasks, some are part of an ongoing project, and some are urgent and require immediate attention.
How do you keep your workflow moving so that you meet the requirements of the role and nail every deadline that comes your way? Here are my tips on how Assistants can deal with conflicting priorities. Productivity for Assistants – Taking Control of your Day and deal with conflicting priorities.
What are you supposed to be doing today?
It is much easier handling multiple priorities if you have a clear idea of what you are supposed to be doing that day.
For me, this is achieved by reviewing your to-do list at the start of each day and working out how much time each task should take you. Look at your deadlines and priorities accordingly.
Having a best-case scenario means that you can at least start the day focused on what you want to achieve. If something urgent crops up you can put your work on hold, deal with the urgent matter and then quickly return to your original plan without too much disruption.
What are your priorities?
As we have discussed in this chapter, for Assistants, priorities are a very fluid thing.
Your priorities are your Executive’s priorities and your organisation’s priorities. Therefore you have to understand the bigger picture.
This is where your business acumen comes into play.
If you are fully aware of what is happening in your business, you can make much more informed decisions about what needs to do be done and when it needs to be achieved.
Being proactive can also ensure that you are working on the right things and completing tasks that are increasing your Executive’s productivity.
Rescheduling tasks and creating space in your day
Annoyingly the routine work doesn’t go away.
If you have to stop what you are doing and work on something urgently, you will still have to complete all of the other stuff you need to do that day.
How do you do this?
I will often add a little white space to my day.
If something urgent crops up I will use my ‘white space’ time to get this done and then I can go back to what I was doing previously.
If I have a perfect day, I use my white space to do some personal development, plan my workload for the following week or go out and get some fresh air.
This is very rare, and usually, the ‘white space’ does get used for work, but I at least plan it into my day.
Communication is and always will be key
I know, I know, I say this all the time. But it is true.
You need to be very, very vocal as an Assistant; otherwise, your Executive and colleagues will just assume you can handle every little task that is passed your way.
Speak to your manager every day, find out what is coming up, what the priorities are, and what you can do to meet deadlines.
Tell them what your task list looks like, what you are working on, and what you have coming up.
Say no more often… It will do you good!
Last but not least if you have loads of conflicting priorities and you are struggling to get everything done, you must must must say no to things.
Question your colleagues that always use the urgent card.
Is this urgent?
Or have you just left it to the last minute?
Make everyone aware that you are busy and can’t take 5 minutes to quickly do that thing they are asking you to do (it never takes 5 minutes!) Being a little more assertive will certainly help you manage priorities.