Administrative/Clerical: Is Working Harder the Answer?

[Guest blogger, Nancy Anderson of contributes many wonderful articles. Today she shares the message below, Is Working Harder the Answer?]

A competitive job market can be stressful, and you may work hard every day to be the best employee in your department or niche as a way to achieve job security. For clerical staff members, working harder isn’t always the way to deliver excellence. Working habits that promote office productivity can be more valuable than hours of overtime.

When you work too hard, you can become flustered, burned out, or even sweaty, and the last thing you want to do is present an overwhelmed appearance to your boss. Working habits that allow you to work smarter instead of harder allow you to get everything done without exhausting yourself. Start with small working habits that boost your productivity or reduce physical stress. Busy admin assistants and receptionists can use headsets to field calls, leaving their hands free for multitasking or taking notes. Headsets also reduce the physical discomfort that comes from cradling a phone receiver or holding it to your ear for lengthy calls.

Keep your work area free of clutter to avoid working habits that slow you down. If you have to search for a pen when your boss gives you instructions or asks you to take notes in a meeting, you look unprepared and can delay everyone. Opt for habits that boost office productivity, and you’ll be especially appreciated. Develop a priority list for tasks if you work for multiple executives or provide clerical assistance to an entire department. Learning to prioritize your own to-do list so that each task is accomplished before a critical deadline ensures that the whole team succeeds. To avoid confusing yourself with heavily edited lists, use a free app to keep track of your priorities on a mobile phone or tablet. You’ll always have the list with you, and you can edit it on the fly when someone throws another task your way.

A big challenge for clerical staff who want to work smarter is interruptions. Depending on your specific job function, you may not be able to avoid people walking up with demands, but you can ask other employees to wait for a moment while you wrap up your current task—provided that task isn’t going to take more than a few seconds to complete. You can also explain that you’re working on a vital task and ask if you can call the person who needs help as soon as you’re done. Reduce interruptions further by ensuring your working habits don’t involve you interrupting yourself. Keep a talk file where you record notes about things you need to discuss with certain people. Schedule time to meet with your boss or other critical employees on a daily or weekly basis to go over the talk file, instead of calling the person every time you think of a question or concern.

There will always be times when a project requires extra hours or frantic work to meet deadline. If you develop smart working habits, however, those times will be the exception instead of the norm.

Nancy Anderson is the communities and article Editor for  Nancy has 10 years’ experience in the online job search business with Beyond.  Nancy’s team produces dozens of articles every month for top internet sites.  Follow Nancy and the Beyond team on


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