Prioritize Like a Pro With These Tips

Michele Warg
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As an administrative assistant, your workload sometimes seems overwhelming. For times when that big report is due, the shareholders' meeting is coming up, a huge client is in town and your boss is returning from vacation all at once, you must learn to prioritize projects so you can effectively perform your job. Here are some tips to help turn you into an office wizard.

1. Plan First

Sit down and plan your day during the first part of your work schedule. Set aside 15 minutes to jot down how long it takes you to read emails, respond to phone calls, set appointments and talk to various people in the office. Create a timeline and share it with the appropriate people in your office, including your boss. Planning and time management are two vital skills for an administrative assistant.

2. Work Backwards

Figure out how to keep projects within a deadline by working backwards. Start with the due date, and compartmentalize segments of the larger task. Determine how much time each segment needs, and monitor progress with regular updates. This keeps the team on task and on target when you learn how to manage your time and everyone else's time. An administrative assistant can serve as the glue that holds many departments together.

3. Think About Consequences

What happens when your team misses a deadline? Is it a crucial misstep or do you have wiggle room? Prioritize projects based on the consequences of each one. As an example, possibly losing a valuable client over a huge project means that particular goal is job one.

4. Know What Success Looks Like

Visualize what success looks like, no matter what job you try to accomplish. Did you schedule the meeting properly? Did you convince management to buy that valuable piece of office equipment? If you don't feel you succeeded, consider changing your strategy for when the same task arises again in the future.

5. Change When You Must

Priorities change, people get sick and emergencies happen. This is just part of working with a group of people, so prepare to be flexible and adaptable at a moment's notice. A great administrative assistant handles change without missing a beat.

6. Get Out of That Rut

Break out of your mental funk by switching to a small job on another project for a few minutes to give your mind a break from a larger project. Reward yourself for accomplishing a smaller goal within your busy day.

7. Know That Challenges Are Opportunities

Consult with your team members when a challenge arises. You might find yourself growing as an administrative assistant in ways you never thought possible as your team learns to respect you and value your input when you collaborate on a sticky situation.

8. Ask for Help

Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Purchase that extra software program, download an app, outsource a service provider or delegate some aspects of your job to others to make sure the most important deadlines are met. Remember, this is a team effort.

Flourish as an administrative assistant by learning how to make the most important projects a priority at work. The successful outcome of the project, and your job security, are the rewards of learning this vital soft skill.

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