personal assistant: top 10 tips

We all know that being a PA is demanding. The late nights, the impossible deadlines, the juggling of a hundred tasks at any one moment. Stress is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be disruptive.

No two PA roles are the same – it very much depends on the person you work with and the type of company you work in – but there are some fundamental skills needed to be a PA.

To help you get the most out of your job, I have compiled a mixture of crucial skills and top tips to help you ease stress, look forward to Mondays and be the best PA you could possibly be.

  1. Have a TO-DO list – Every evening, before I leave the office, I ensure I have prepared my TO-DO list for the following day, this puts my mind at ease as I know that I can come into the office and get stuck in straight away.

Some of you may be thinking, yes I have a TO-DO list…but this doesn’t mean your TO-DO list is working for you. Here are some top tips on organising your TO-DO list:

  • Categorise your TO-DO list into categories such as travel and accommodation arrangements, meetings, expenses, email responses, follow-ups and administrative tasks.
  • Prioritising your TO-DO allows you to focus on the most urgent tasks first and work your way down.
  • Have a rough idea of how long things take: if you don’t know, time yourself.
  • Use a checklist to arrange your workload and tick off each point once complete. As a PA, there is nothing more satisfying than ticking off a completed task.
  • Refer back to your TO-DO list throughout the day and ask yourself if anything can be added, delegated, postponed or removed.
  1. Confidentiality is key – As a PA you will be privy to all kinds of personal and confidential information and your discretion and professionalism at all times are crucial. Your employer must have 100% confidence in your honesty and integrity.
  2. Always be one step ahead – Take note of his/her routine, habits, likes and dislikes, ensuring that you know what to expect. Don’t underestimate the importance of fetching their favourite sushi or screening any unwanted calls. Remember, this is a partnership.
  3. Become indispensable – It is your aim to become irreplaceable. A good assistant knows how to multitask and prioritise, has a good work ethic and is always going above and beyond. Familiarising yourself with the way your boss works will assist you in making daily decisions for yourself, and on his or her behalf.
  4. Prioritize – It is extremely important to prioritise your demanding workload. There are 3 vital categories you must have. Urgent, Important and Not Important; this way, you can filter what needs to get done immediately, soon and later. This also ensures that new tasks don’t constantly interrupt or take priority over tasks you are already working on.
  5. Turn off your Email notifications – now! – Emails have got to be the number one distraction. This simple tip is hugely effective. If you want to be more productive, half of the battle is limiting disruptions, and email notifications are an absolute killer. This allows you to focus on your prioritised tasks and smash through your TO-DO lists. So switch off your notifications, set a time aside each day to deal with incoming emails, fire off any quick emails that don’t require a vast amount of input, add the other ones to your to-do list and move on to the next task.
  6. Professionalism – Always remember that you are representing the person you work for (your boss and/or your company) so professionalism is key. Recognise that your competence and behaviour can influence colleagues’ and clients’ perceptions of the person you support.
  7. Keep a pen and paper or your device on you at all times –  This is an essential part of being a PA for those times that your boss is throwing tasks at you throughout the day (normally at the most inconvenient time possible… but hey this is what we have signed up for!) as it ensures you do not forget things.
  8. Own your mistakes – It goes without saying, we learn from our mistakes. The worst thing you can do is make an excuse. It’s a sign that you are not willing to own your actions. When you make an error, own up, apologize and state a plan of action moving forward.
  9. Thick skin and a sense of humour – Take criticism lightly and use it to your advantage on how to better your skills, always remaining positive. The ability to roll with the punches, reset after a bad day, and keep things in perspective are all essential to becoming an excellent PA.

The role of the personal assistant has evolved from the days of dictation and making tea. Admin skills are still a must, but modern PAs handle a much more wide variety of tasks.

These PA life hacks will help you to accomplish all tasks thrown your way, thrive in your career and be the best at what you do.

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