Time Management for Administrative Assistants – Ask an Admin


The questions keep flowing in so we will keep posting them! Ask an Admin has been a success because of all of the great questions and the amazing answers that administrative assistants and executive assistants have been submitting.

This week Lynda asks us:

My 2019 development goal is time management. I’ve been studying this for a while and, although I’ve compiled many good tips, many don’t apply to me because of my administrative role. Our jobs as administrative assistants require keeping other people on track, plus we don’t have total control of our day. What works for you? Any best practices you can share? Thanks!

Lynda poses a great question about time management for administrative assistants. Time is something we always need more of and when we have more of it, it is still not enough! How can we get Lynda back on track and take a little more control of her day?

About Ask an Admin:

Ask an Admin will be a weekly post on our blog that presents a question that you or a fellow administrative professional submitted to us. We will choose one question per week and post it on our blog.

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8 thoughts on “Time Management for Administrative Assistants – Ask an Admin”

  1. Lynda:
    I agree wholeheartedly. Many mornings when you arrive at work you can feel like you have everything under control and then someone you support has emergency and it changes your entire day. Our position is a reactionary one. We have to react to the agendas, schedules, demands of those we support.

    Two pieces of advise I can offer are, when someone approaches you with a task that does not need your immediate attention, put the job to the side and set expectations for him/her as to when you can complete the task. Do not let it interfere with the agenda you have in place. But, when setting expectations always under promise and over deliver so you still look like a superhero when the task has been finished. For example, let him/her know you will take care of it by Thursday but finish it on Wednesday and look like you still went out of your way to assist.

    Secondly, in the areas where you can take charge of your work life, keep as organized as possible so when the inevitable crisis does occur you won’t fall behind in the other areas. For example, keep your electronic files and folders up to date and organized so if someone needs a document ASAP you can easily and quickly find it. Or make a to do list every day before you leave work so when you arrive to a crisis the first thing in the morning you can still remember the other items you need to accomplish and nothing falls by the wayside.

  2. Develop a routine – perhaps it is to get into work 15 min early or stay 15 min late – maybe its only once a week or in the beginning could be every day. In those 15 min do the thing that will help get you started on your day – check the calendar, make a list of what *must* get done that day, even sit quietly with a cup of coffee and meditate – envision yourself being productive, helpful, cheerful, capable. I have a routine where I spend the last 15 minutes of my day (I don’t stay late – I earmark the last 15 minutes of each day) and look at the calendar for the next day, make a list of what I want to get done/follow up. On Friday’s I block off a 30 minute block which I use to go over the coming week’s calendar, check that room reservations are made for meetings, note what agendas are needed for upcoming meetings, check to see if travel will be needed in the near future (car reservations, travel authorizations) and I use this list going forward into the next week. I think the key is to make some time for yourself to do what YOU need to do to help you do your job well. You may discover something new or you may discover that something you have been doing doesn’t work so well. Be flexible and open minded and be willing to try new methods.

  3. Always ALWAYS ask for a due date when you are given an assignment. It reminds people that their task is not the only thing you have to do, and it allows you to build it into your day.

    If you have trouble remembering things told to you verbally make sure you have a notebook near by to write down tasks that the boss might just randomly mention in passing. I’m very visual, so I need to write everything down or it just gets lost in the shuffle.

    Use a single to-do list instead of having post-it notes all over your desk. Keeping everything in one place allows you to better prioritize the tasks; you can see them all at one time.

  4. Stephanie Rowan

    Hi Lynda,

    Our duties sometimes can overwhelm us, correct? I usually have a to-do list that I sat out to complete as my goals for the day. I usually prioritize the most urgent and go from there. Once i check those off, I am able to tackle other duties for the day.

    Our time is valuable, sometimes the work can be tedious. I usually take small breaks to re-focus on what i need to do for the day-whether it be a drink break, pull up something funny on social media, listen to music – something to break up the monotony.

    I keep multiple apps that help with different administrative tasks such as meeting minutes. My calendar is synced to work and home that way i can keep up with deadlines. I also listen to different TED talks and get tips from websites such as these-they usually help answer any questions that i have. This website is a really great too! I love it! Wish you , peace, love, and power!

    Stephanie Rowan

  5. I schedule time on my calendar for my projects. 30 mins here or an hour there. Doesn’t always work when I need it to but I can snooze the reminder until I can dedicate time to ME.
    don’t get bogged down in email. I take a glance first thing in the morning and delete any junk email that gets through the filter. Next look for action items that have come in already and take care of them. Anything that is fyi or reading material, put aside for later.

    1. That is a great idea that I have implemented myself.
      First I get rid of junk/spam/promotions. Then, I look for emails from my executive. If there are action items, I take care of the immediate and “star” the remaining emails for action later. Then, I go through the rest with emphasis on actionable emails, prioritizing accordingly. It helps keep things on track.

  6. Kathleen Robinson

    I’ve picked a time or two when I know my executives will be in recurring meetings and then have blocked out those times on my calendars for tasks that I need to accomplish. If it’s on my calendar, it gets done. If I must, I book a conference room to avoid interruptions, with a sign back at my desk that I am in a meeting and will be back at a specified time. I’ve shared this with my executives, so they are aware of how I “time manage” my tasks, similar to blocking time on their calendars to prepare for meetings or respond to emails.

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