Focusing on Key Tasks When Overwhelmed

Lauren Krause
Posted by

Administrative assistants and clerical workers often juggle many different tasks over the course of a day or week. Task management is essential to ensuring that everything runs smoothly at the administrative levels of a company, and skilled assistants rely heavily on their task management skills to bridge the gap between management and workers as well as handle day-to-day workloads that appear. When you begin to feel that you are overwhelmed, focusing on key tasks and delegating less important duties can help keep you on track.

The first step in effective task management lies in identifying which of your duties are the most important. Administrative assistants have a wide variety of different responsibilities, some of which are urgent and others that may be rescheduled or delegated to coworkers. You can make a list of the work ahead for the day or week and prioritize it by importance. Remember that the most pressing work may not be the most important. Emails that are not marked urgent may waste time instead of helping you tackle key tasks. Telephone calls and direct interactions with managers and employees may be both urgent and important.

Once you have prioritized your schedule, task management gives way to time management. You should strive to avoid procrastination and avoid those activities that cost you precious minutes or hours each day. This includes work that you previously identified as neither urgent nor important in the first stage. Work out a schedule that includes only the most important or urgent key tasks from the identification stage. You can then fill in empty slots with less pressing or less important matters.

After you complete your scheduling of the most important tasks as well as those further down your priority list, you may have others you simply do not have the time to accomplish. Business leaders and administrative assistants alike benefit from the practice of delegation. Look over the remaining tasks and identify those that may be better handled by others in your company. Address your coworkers and explain that your schedule is full for the week and you would appreciate any help they can give you with these specific tasks. Other clerical workers, and even management professionals, may be able to assist you with your time management goals.

Task management is an essential tool for administrative assistants and clerical workers. You should strive to avoid being overwhelmed by learning to say no when your schedule is full and when tasks do not meet the minimum threshold of urgency and importance. Work with your coworkers and employers to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible, including your own workload. These task management steps can help you make the most of your time in the office.



(Photo courtesy of


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch