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7 Tips for Administrative and Executive Assistants

Being an Administrative or Executive Assistant is not always a walk in the park. There is always a fire to be put out, there is the juggling of 9,000 different tasks, and sometimes you are an assistant to more than one executive or manager.

Simply put, not everyone can handle the position of Administrative or Executive Assistant.

With that said, there are tips and tricks out there that are being used by assistants to make life a little less hectic. I’d like to share some of our practices here at Office Dynamics.

Make A List

Training for Executive and Administrative Assistants

Making a list simply allows you to organize your thoughts and decide what tasks need to get done ASAP versus those that can wait until the end of the day.

There are several different ways you can do this. You can use one of those fancy digital apps or you can physically write out a to-do list. I’ve found that when I write things down I’m not being distracted by emails popping up or different notifications. Also, I found that starting my to-do list first thing in the morning, before I check my emails, allows me to think about everything I have to get done for the day. I encourage you to try different techniques and find what works best for you.

To Multitask Or Not To Multitask

As I write this I know many readers will think to themselves, “I work best when I multitask.” When in fact that may not be as true as you think it is. Studies have shown that those who multitask experience an IQ score decline similar to those that have stayed up all night.

Another study shows that performing multiple tasks is less efficient because of the extra time it takes to shift mental gears. Joshua Rubenstein, Ph.D., of the Federal Aviation Administration says that your brain must actively decide to switch tasks, then choose a task to switch to. Once you’ve switched tasks your brain needs to “shut off” the rules from the old task and “turn on” the rules for the new task. All of this leads to inefficiency in the workplace.

Think of someone filling out a finance form in excel then switching to writing an email that concerns the items needed for a meeting.

I have written about and spoken about avoiding multitasking. Read my article, Why I Think We Should Kill Multitasking.

I understand that being 100% free of multitasking is impossible and it’s tough to go from multitasking to not multitasking but I can personally say my work efficiency has increased since making the change.

Read more about this.

Email Conversations

How often have you had a conversation with your Executive or Manager, discussed the details of a particular project or a meeting, and then you both forget what was discussed and agreed upon?

By sending a quick “FYI/follow-up email” that confirms your conversation, you will avoid confusion and have a record of what was said.

Passwords and Logins

Training for Executive and Administrative Assistants

Let’s be real with ourselves. We have more logins and passwords that we know what to do with. To add on top of that, when we forget a password and have to make a new one they ask for so much to be included in the password like a capital letter, a lowercase letter, a symbol, a hieroglyph, the wing of a dragon, and your firstborn child’s fingerprint. Well, it’s not that bad but you get my point.

There are several things you can do to alleviate this stress/pain.

  • Use Password Managers such as 1Password or LastPass. This will help manage all your passwords and keep them in a safe digital location. (My highest recommendation)
  • Write them down. This is a bit “old school” and some people may say that this isn’t a great idea, however, if you treat this document like any other valuable document then you could use this idea.

Get Used To Saying No

It is OK to say no…well, depending on who you are saying no to.

There are many people in the workplace that feel the pressure to say “yes” to anything when they are asked. Whether it is to be more liked, to show they can take the extra responsibility, or just because they can’t say no.

But whatever the reason is, you need to realize that saying no is ok. By learning to say no (more often) you are doing multiple things. You are:

  • Setting boundaries.
  • Lightening your workload by not taking the workload of others.
  • Reducing stress by taking on less work.
  • Not agreeing with opinions you don’t believe in, you are not putting your own morals in question.
  • Showing respect for yourself, and others will respect you as a result.
  • Not putting yourself last.

Stay On Top Of Trends and Technology

Training for Executive and Administrative Assistants

Let’s face it. The advancement of technology today moves so fast that we have a hard time keeping up with it. By the time you get the new iPhone or Android model, there is already another one announced. If you buy a laptop that is one month old you have to update it several times just to be up to date.

Mobile apps are being added to the app stores every day without notice.

It really is overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be. When you stay on top of technology and take the time to read on the latest trends (in your area of business) or find an expert that can recommend the best tech to use, it really will help your learning curve and cut down on the “catch up” research.

Weekend Bucket List 

Take the time to make time for the important stuff in your life. Whether you do this on your lunch, at home, or as part of your morning routines, you need to do it. If you head into your weekend with the idea of getting something done, more than likely you will do it.

By completing your Bucket List or part of it, you will walk into the new week with a sense of accomplishment, a clear head, and weight off your shoulders.

Side note, it is ok to pamper yourself a little for the crazy week you just put in, make sure to do this every once in a while.


These tips and tricks are here as suggestions and if you decide to try them out that is great but what we would love is to hear some tips and tricks that you could share!

We are a growing workforce and the more help from each other, to each other, the better.

So, what are some tips and tricks that you can recommend to your peers? Let us know in the comments below!

For other tips and tricks read, 9 Ways to Improve Your Organization Skills.

World Class Assistant Training for Assistants

If you’ve been looking for a way to increase your net worth within your company then look no further. For over a decade, the World Class Assistant™ has been helping assistants all over the world give them the edge needed to become a stronger asset to their company.

To learn more about how you can obtain your CWCA Designation please visit our World Class Assistant Page.


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9 thoughts on “7 Tips for Administrative and Executive Assistants”

  1. I recently tried the “incubator” system. It took a little adjustment, but this system keeps track of daily priorities and helps me manage them on a on-going basis.
    If you want to try it, you will need 31 file folders labeled 1 tp 31 and 12 hanging files labeled January through December. Today I took out work for November 8th. I did everything I could complete this morning. The items I could not complete right away went in a priority tray on my desk. The file labeled ‘8’ now goes into the December hanging file behind files labeled 1 to 7. Anything not completed today from my priority tray gets placed in the November 9th file at the end of the day.

  2. 1. Before you toss out the 2018 calendar in January, take a few minutes to go through it and write down in your new 2019 calendar things that may re-occur in the coming year (i.e. in July the shredder dude came by, we may need again this July, we had our flu clinic on October 17th, try to schedule for roughly same time frame in October, having the picnic in August was a bad idea, move up to June)
    2. Use your smart phone for alarms throughout the day (at 11:55 mine goes off so I have time to get logged in and can actually clock out on time at 12. At 4:55 it goes off and I take the last 5 minutes to straighten up my desk and log in in order to clock out on time).
    3. Keep a work calendar and a personal calendar – sync them up at least once a week. Seeing that weekend trip on your work calendar helps keep you motivated to get to the weekend! Likewise, seeing that big task you have at work on Monday on your personal calendar can help you prepare for it.
    4. Prep everything for the next day/time you’ll use it. When leaving work in the evening, I take time to tidy up and make my work area prepped for the next day. When I come in the following morning, the papers I need are right on top and I’m not coming in to a mess. At home, I prep my work outfit for the next day the night before and make sure my bag and all my accoutrement are in one place where I can easily grab and go. My lunch is prepared and in the fridge, again, grab and go. Very helpful if I hit snooze a few extra times!
    5. Stay organized. Nothing wastes time, frustrates, and delays you like not being able to find the info/tool you need. Also having a clearly defined schedule will let you know when you can take on extra items or when it is best to say, “My calendar is actually rather full, when did you need this by? If it’s very soon, did you want me to put aside the x-project to get this done?”

    1. I like your ideas Rebecca, especially the calendar for the year. I will definitely use that.
      Thank you for sharing!

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