I’m a Bored Executive Assistant – Is It Time to Move On? – Ask an Admin

Ask an Admin was created by Office Dynamics to help administrative professionals with their problems through the help of their peers. We don’t always have an answer to each individual’s problem but we know some of you might. Please read the question and comment below.

EA with Brains asks:

How to approach this situation?

I work for a C-level executive who gives me tasks to do even though I’ve asked my executive if there’s anything I can do to assist with project-related work. I’m bored and not sure if it’s time to search for another job. I’m over 50 and may not get a match in salary (I’m highly compensated).

Thank you!

Please share your thoughts and advice in the comments below.


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15 thoughts on “I’m a Bored Executive Assistant – Is It Time to Move On? – Ask an Admin”

  1. I was in the same boat as well. I had a frank conversation with my executive and with her support I looked for ways to insert myself in new projects both within my division and in the greater enterprise. I offered to back up the CEO’s assistant and also my peers within the C-suite. I did stretch assignments.

    Eventually when cuts were made within our division a hard decision was made to release one of our EAs in our division and I took on supporting another VP and her team in addition to my C-level executive.

    I am definitely no longer bored!

  2. I’m surprised to see so many assistants having this same problem as I do. Over the years, a lot of my duties have been taken away without explanation plus my executive only works half my shift because they “can’t” work as late as I do (not because of any younglings either). And, I also get bored a lot of times. I use the time to educate/re-educate myself by taking classes offered within my “organization” or something free online (You Tube, etc.) or through different business/self-help books. Right now, I also fill my time with the three desk guides I am creating/designing. I would suggest maybe seeing if there are any inefficiencies you could solve (communication or workflows, for instance), or maybe reorganize your filing systems, or maybe someone else could use a hand and you could share the workload on some of their projects/tasks. You may have to continue to create tasks for you to do to get through your workdays. Or, long shot here, maybe find a way to enjoy the downtime you’ve been given. It’s a problem, but I guess the question I would ask myself before leaving the situation is: Would the alternative really be better (at my age, which seems to be a concern for you)? More work, but less pay? And, if I stay, what can I do to take advantage of my situation in a way that benefits me without losing anything?

  3. I am also in the same boat! 53 and supporting a new-comer (but not young) to our company, who is very very very tech-savvy! So, he has removed most of my tasks from me and he is doing them during his free time in the afternoon through his tablet!
    Although I have many times asked him how to help – what to do more – given him proposals and suggestions, he insists on doing things by himself! Suppose he follows some kind of company policy to reduce the number of employees.
    So, to the point. Yes, search for something new and leave! Although money is important, most important is to be calm and happy. If you are not happy with your daily life, trust me, you will face it later on.
    If your C-manager does not understand or does not want to understand, go!
    At least, try.
    I am doing the same. Maybe I will not find something (because, who hires a 50+?), but at least I search, and that makes me feel better, not bored and useful.
    Hope you find what you want!

  4. Maybe a conversation with your executive/s may help – and let them know that you can do so much more? Their response/reaction will help you judge your next step. Many executives don’t know what to do with an assistant, they assume he/she just does daily tasks. Sometimes they need a little “mentoring”. It could open a whole new chapter for your both. Create a partnership. Ultimately, it is for you to choose what is most important for you. Money or professional fulfillment – not an easy choice, I know. I am 62 and have been at this since 1978 in Europe and in the US. I am currently in a position which I find very fulfilling with an executive who, even after all these years, has taught me so much.

  5. I agree with the folks here about using your time for personal development and showing your bosses your skillset so they know what you offer. I will add two other thoughts:
    1. Is there a process occurring at work that isn’t quite optimal, that everyone complains about but no one is making any changes? That could be something to tackle that can occupy your time.
    2. Make sure your boredom isn’t coming from something outside of work. Boredom is an invasive feeling and if you are bored outside of work, you could be bringing it in to work and vice versa. I would suggest evaluating your outside of work time and see if that needs some jazzing up, it might make you feel better about things at the office.
    Good luck. I’m sure you’ll find what you need.

  6. It is comforting to know that many of us are in the same position! I am the EA to the CEO of a non profit. He has been in the position almost two years and came from a background where he never had an assistant. Needless to say, it has been challenging getting him to relinquish tasks and projects that he is used to doing himself. Slowly but surely he is handing off things to me and my hope is the more I prove myself the more confidence he will have in my abilities. In the meantime, with his approval, I have been providing support to our CFO and Program Directors. I too have been finding online PD opportunities (that is how I came across Office Dynamics!), which have increased my self confidence. Wishing the best to all of us!

  7. At 56, I moved across the country after leaving a very busy job, taking a job in my new city that was far less challenging but paid what I needed to make, coming from a well-compensated position. I spent 18 months doing almost nothing (maybe 1 hour of work per day) but I was here “if they needed me”. It just about drove me crazy after awhile although I enjoyed the lower stress for the first few months. Eventually things picked up, but I have been looking for a new position anyway as I still have too many slow days. Having a job makes it easier to wait until I find the right job for me now. I say explore your options and keep looking for a position that will be more fulfilling. Enjoy what you have now — the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence!

  8. Glad I am not the only one in this situation. After 6 years doing the same brain-numbing job, I would love to move on but the company will not transfer me because I got a new manager last fall who was nowhere near ready for the job.

    I have no suggestions other than looking for a new position. I am well paid, with a Good pension and 5 more years to go but still Am looking for something new.

  9. I was in a similar situation at a past job and chose to leave the position. I regret making that decision. In hindsight, I wish I would have interjected myself on projects.

    EA’s area excellent at getting information. I suggest getting information on a project, then provide your executive with your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions. MAKE him see that you are more than a task-doer.

    Veronica Cochran, CEO of International Association of Administrative Professionals, gave the keynote speech at the 2018 IAAP Summit and in her speech she gave some excellent pointers for EA’s. For instance, stop waiting for permission and do what needs to be done. If he doesn’t see your value it’s because you’re not showing him what you can do. Don’t wait for him to give you a project to manage, just do what needs to be done. Make him see that he can’t be without you.

    Take the time to watch her speech. It will change the way you look at your role and may keep you in a job that you COULD love and won’t have to take a cut in your salary.

  10. Is there a chance to ask if you can assist another team in your spare time? Call it collaboration and see what you can contribute to another teams goals? Maybe he wants to see if you will put yourself out there for the team.

  11. EA –
    I too was in a rut and had the same concerns as you, given my age. It was not an option to change jobs. I decided to take control of my job, so to speak. I started by finding online PD opportunities in which I could participate during my “down” time…once a week (Yay Office Dynamics!!)
    I learned to ask to participate (help) with a specific task (compile data for a XYZ report) or specific activity (contact participants for XYZ training). I was specific…not the open-ended “how can I help”, because Execs will always say, “I can’t think of anything right now…”. It’s been a lot of initiative and pro-activeness on my part, but I’m definitely better for it in all aspects of my job.
    We are still a work in progress but I’m seeing a change in my Exec, too!
    Hang in there, lady!
    –Lisa, STAR Achievement Series, Level I graduate

  12. The Executive may not know how you can help with project-related work. I recommend you try to identify results you can produce by taking on a project, and communicating that to your Executive. If the Executive still doesn’t jump on board, it may be time to move on. I’ve been in a similar situation of being bored and tried making suggestions on how to better utilize my talents to make me feel valued, and I had to come to the conclusion it what time to move on. If you are highly compensated, that’s great! There are other companies who will match your worth. Show them what you got!

  13. I happen to be in the same boat…close to retirement and very well compensated and I’d love to continue to work for a few more years (after full retirement). I support two executives who are extremely busy. I look for ways to help them…reading “Just for Managers” emails (all EAs are copied) that detail due dates is just one of the ways I can reach out to them to offer my assistance. And, it works! I also have many managers and supervisors I reach out to and offer support if and when I see the opportunities to help. And, many of them come back to me with other requests. If this an option, try it.

  14. Yes, it is time to move. I am in the same situation but am 66. I am going to continue here since I plan to retire in a year or two. I have wished that I would have moved on years ago instead of waiting for things to change.

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