Administrative assistants are often on the go all day long. From the moment that the walk into the office they have to be "on" with a smile on their face and a go-get-'em attitude. It's not easy. And sometimes it is the little things that slip. It is the tone of voice or a wrong word choice and pretty soon co-workers are saying, "What up with her today?" Being that central focus of the office environment - the one that others look to to keep everything together - admin assistants need to avoid that so here are some quick tips.
1. Take breaks!
Sometimes it is tempting to work through breaks - especially when that pile of work is just getting bigger and bigger! It is really a counter-productive strategy though. When you skip breaks you're missing out on the opportunity to clear your head and come back with a new focus. So take your scheduled 10 or 15 minutes and use it to do something that will bring you back refreshed. Go for a walk. Get a cup of coffee or tea. Do some stretches. Just make sure you take your breaks and you'll find it much easier to concentrate when you come back to your desk.
2. Keep your work area tidy
An untidy work area makes it difficult to find things when you need them and it makes your mind feel cluttered as well. Take some time periodically throughout the day to put things away and file papers so that you have the space you need to work. Make use of desk accessories like file clips (you can get very decorative ones these days - mine looks like a flower!), folders, and trays to keep your desk organized. A bulletin board can be a great tool for keeping the information you need on a regular basis handy but don't forget to clean it up once in awhile, too!
As an admin assistant you are likely to have many things on the go at once but learn to prioritize. Which ones really need to be done today? Focus on those. A To Do list can be a great tool for this. Don't just write things down though. Assign each To Do a category. "A" for the things that are absolutely essential to get done today, "B" for the things you'd like to get done but can wait if they have to, and "C" for the things that are not critical. As you progress throughout the week, some of those "B" items will move up to the "A" category and the "C" items can move into the "B" category.
4. Say No
Saying no may be the thing that keeps you from getting bogged down with work. People tend to forget that you have your own work to do and will often ask for favors. You don't have to say "yes" to all of them. Actually, saying "yes" to everything is a bad idea. But don't just say "no" and leave them hanging. You can suggest another option or you can direct them to another person. If you are really the best person to ask you can ask them to come back to you with it in a day or two. Just remember to be polite.
5. Choose Your Words
How you say things and what you say is important in communication and that is one of the many reasons that administrative assistants need to be good verbal communicators and good listeners. Make sure you give the person who is talking to you your full attention and then take a moment to choose your words carefully. If you do this, co-workers will be much more likely to take a "no" in a positive way and this will reduce stress for both parties.