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  • feedwordpress 15:30:06 on 2017/06/19 Permalink
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    7 Ways to Get Control of Your Day (Part 2 of 4 Part Series) 

    Get_Control_of_Your_Day

    In case you did not read part 1, I am writing a 4-part series around the topics of managing your day and time. I promise to keep these short and to the point.

    #1: Early in the day, clarify your top 5 priorities for the day. Instead of thinking about the 10 things or more you have to do today, narrow your list to your top 5 priority items that you must get done today. This will help you feel like you have control vs. feeling like you are being controlled by everything that pops up. And at the end of the day, you will feel good about your accomplishments.

    #2: Focus on the task at hand. One way to get things done and off your plate is to stay focused. Stay in the “flow.” This is what makes the difference between those who make great strides in their work and those who just run in circles throughout the day.

    #3: Reducing information overload. I will give you tips on how to do this in next week’s Monday Motivator.

    #4: Ask others for specific deadlines. This helps you prioritize your workload.

    #5: Recognize the time of day you are most productive and tackle the projects that consume the most brain power. For me, I am most productive from 6:00 am – 2:00 pm. At work, if at all possible, I work on the items or projects that consume my greatest cognitive abilities. Then later in the day, I focus on smaller items that don’t consume as much of my brain power. By doing so, I am highly effective and move through my work much faster.

    #6: Establish some quiet time throughout the day. One way to gain control is to just stop. Pause for 5 minutes. Revisit your Inbox, to do stack or list and then begin.

    #7: Plan ahead. A great way to get a jump on your day is to plan the night before. In other words, before you leave the office, organize and prioritize your work for the next day. This way when you arrive at your office the next day, you can hit the road running.

    This blog was created from our Monday Motivators series. Monday Motivators is a weekly note offering practical ways to create a new mindset, change behaviors, develop positive relationships and thrive in the workplace with energy, effectiveness, and excellence.

    monday motivators

    The post 7 Ways to Get Control of Your Day (Part 2 of 4 Part Series) appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:00:03 on 2017/06/12 Permalink
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    Managing Your Time (Part 1 of a 4 Part Series) 

    time_management

    I have been in the business world for 47 years now and one thing that never changes is managing our workload and setting priorities. Everyone I talk to is trying to keep up with the accelerated pace of business and change. At Office Dynamics, we always seem to be in a flurry of activity throughout the year but certain seasons are busier than others. Plus we always have to be thinking 6 – 12 months out because of being in the training industry.

    Regardless if this is your really busy season or not, I would like to offer you some of my greatest tips. I will do this in a 4 Part Series of Monday Motivators. Other topics I will address over the next 3 weeks are: Control Your Day and Get Things Done; Reducing Information Overload; Build Structure out of Chaos. I promise to keep these Motivators short and to the point since your time is precious.

    Managing your time is about . . .

    • Managing priorities and staying on the “A” priority before moving to B or C. Often people would rather do what is quick and easy. The truth is we need to stay focused on the “A” priority items of the day. We must not get pulled into the allure of what is quick and easy.
    • Being flexible throughout the day and quickly adapting to changes. While our To Do lists are great, as you know, flexibility is key. I always say that our To Do list must be fluid. It is just a guide but we can’t be married to it.
    • FOCUS!!! Hugely important in this age of non-stop distractions. Example: Can you even stay focused enough to read this entire Monday Motivator or are you watching what’s popping up in your Inbox? Or on your phone or listening to the conversation next to you?
    • Stopping throughout the day and assessing items to be done. I love to pause mid-afternoon and re-asses where I am with my work. I determine what I have accomplished thus far and what I must finish before the day ends. You can ask yourself these questions: 1) What must get done before day’s end? What is the negative impact if I do not get this done? 2) Am I currently focusing on the most important item in my leader’s eyes? 3) What is coming up in the next few days that I must take action on today? (be future-focused while being in the moment)
    • Using effective “tools.” We are so fortunate today to have so many tools and apps. While I love some of my old-fashioned methods, I would like to encourage you to talk to your peers and see what tools they use for greater efficiency.
    • Work smarter (not harder). I believe many of you who read my Monday Motivators work hard. Today it’s about working smarter; taking some time throughout your day to think, assess, decide and possibly delegate.

     

     

     

    The post Managing Your Time (Part 1 of a 4 Part Series) appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:52:37 on 2017/06/08 Permalink
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    Emotional Intelligence Meets Travel Planning 

    travel_planning

    What do emotional intelligence and travel planning have in common? Plenty. I have been traveling extensively for business (and a little pleasure) for 3 straight months. To be honest, it is wearing on me. Several of my trips involved being gone for 5 days; only to come home for 3 or 4 days and leave again for a week. I have been a business traveler for 27 years.

    While the typical person thinks traveling is glamorous, the business traveler has a different perspective. Often business travelers put in very long days. They may not pack until late at night before their departure the next morning. Then they wake up early to get to the airport in plenty of time to wade through security lines. The traveler then sits and waits until boarding time. Sometimes boarding times are delayed—even by hours. Then the traveler gets to sit on an airplane for hours before finally arriving at their destination.

    The busy executive traveler may get to the hotel quickly or not. Hotel check-in is next which usually goes pretty fast but maybe not because a group of conventioneers is checking in. This is followed by dinner and then working on emails and getting ready for the next day’s meetings, or in my case, teaching full-day workshops to 25 attendees. If the executive is dedicated, they will squeeze in their time at the gym. And I must not forget, their time to call their family or significant other or ailing parent.

    If you are an assistant reading this Monday Motivator, you know the story. But what you may not realize is the importance of your role in doing the best job possible to ease your executive’s travel experience. While planning the logistics is critically important, the only way you will be a Rock Star in your executive’s eyes is to use emotional intelligence.

    That means you will walk yourself through the trip as if you were the traveler but through the eyes of an executive who already has 100 things on their mind. One quick example of using emotional intelligence is reminding your executive to have plenty of single dollar bills on hand before they leave for their trip. These dollar bills come in quite handy for tips! I hate it if I don’t have any single dollar bills because I don’t want to tip the skycap $5 for 1 bag and I don’t like having to ask the skycap for change. This may seem minute to you, but not to your traveler. Be a Rock Star!!

    I remember when I was an assistant, I had one executive who had to know the configuration of the plane and see the chart of seats. Now, this was in the day when we did not have the tools we have today. I had to call the travel agent or airline to get a picture of the configuration of the plane. I couldn’t figure out why it was such a big deal. Well now that I’m a traveler, I get it. Fortunately, I can easily see the configuration of a plane and also discuss my preferences with Melia (my assistant).

    Another way an administrative assistant can be a Rock Star is to create a list of all the important items your executive should pack. Yes, you! Again, make traveling easy for your traveler. They have enough things on their mind. This list would include everything from chargers to rain coats, workout clothes (in detail), to toiletries (in detail) and special medications. I have a list like this that is on every itinerary my assistant creates. I always go through the list just before I close up my bag to ensure I have everything. While you might think a person who travels all the time would have this down pat, don’t assume so. It’s actually the opposite. Because I travel all the time, it is easy to forget that one little item and then it creates issues for me or consumes time for me when I get to my destination. I don’t need any extra work or stress when I am traveling for business.

    Another area you can apply emotional intelligence is if you arrange travel for a female executive. The greatest concern for female travelers is safety. So think through their trip. Are there nice restaurants in walking distance? Is there a full-service restaurant in the hotel so when they arrive late from their flight, they can just stay at the hotel to eat? Is there a nice spa close by so your busy female traveler (who is probably a wife or mother), can treat herself to a spa treatment?

    I am just touching the tip of the iceberg on this subject. What this boils down to is:

    1. Be empathetic of your traveler, even if you only arrange a few trips a year. Also, this information would apply to your own trips or family trips.
    2. Know your traveler’s preferences inside and out! Example…. I will not use Uber or Lyft. Yes, thousands of people use them even several of my females friends use them. For me, these services are not regulated enough nor monitored like a town car service. Personally, when I travel by myself, I will not use those services. I am happy to pay extra money to feel safe.
    3. After every business trip, you should hold a debrief meeting with your executive. Discuss what your executive liked and what did not work. When I return from a trip, I will tell my assistant what I liked about the hotel and whether I would stay there again if I am to return to that city in the future. I will discuss specifics of that hotel and we make notes of things I liked or did not like. If I don’t go back to that city for a year, I will not remember every little detail. I even document which restaurants I liked and why I liked them. I don’t want to have to think about these things every time I go to that city!
    4. Don’t just let your executive say, “The trip was fine.” If you use emotional intelligence, you want to know exactly what worked so you can duplicate it. And not duplicate what upset your executive. Executives are funny people in that they won’t talk to their assistant about the little nuances but when they hire me for coaching or training, they tell me every little minute detail that frustrates them that their assistant does when coordinating their travel. So take the time to be an investigator and ask the right questions.
    5. One assistant I had, used to surprise me with little post-it notes in my trainer toolkit or file folder that I would see upon my arrival or the first day of training. She would write a short hello note and wish me a great day or trip. I loved that she took the time to add that extra touch and it made me feel closer to home.

    I would like to challenge you to think about where else you can apply emotional intelligence when coordinating your executive’s travel. Dig deep and see how you can be a Rock Star Travel Planner!

    Joan Burge

    P.S. If you currently don’t book any travel, still keep my words of advice. Your situation can change at any time.

    Join TRAVO and Joan Burge for more tips and tricks on travel planning by signing up for our free webinar. You can learn more about TRAVO by clicking the banner below.

    Travel_Planning_App

    The post Emotional Intelligence Meets Travel Planning appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
  • feedwordpress 10:15:00 on 2017/05/22 Permalink
    Tags: best practices for administrative professionals, , effective communication, , email management, managing your executive's email, , , receiving email, sending email   

    Email That Works: Best Practices for Truly Busy People 

    email that works best practices for assistants

    How would you describe your e-mail situation lately?

    Are you getting so much that it’s sometimes impossible to manage it properly and still be productive? Do you worry you’ll hit the “send” button too soon, and deliver a message before its ready? Take heart….You’re not alone!

    E-mail technology has been great – but it has also wreaked havoc on the way we communicate. For example, you can shoot back a reply to an e-mail in lickety-split time. The question is, should you? Thinking about what the message ought to say often becomes secondary to our ability to communicate immediately. And whenever action precedes thought, trouble will likely follow at some point or another, as you know.

    When you’re a “Star” in your profession, you take the time to think before speaking or sending any kind of message – in electronic or written form. These tips can help you be an even more effective communicator – and prevent e-mail problems that can impact your impressive professional image:

    When receiving e-mail:

    • Sort incoming messages according to importance and the need to act on them. Some people create folders within their email programs. Others print off messages and track them that way. Hint: If your e-mail program permits you to “manage” messages – sending them to folders without showing up in your inbox, for instance – you may want to explore that option. Talk to your office’s IT person.
    • Respond only when necessary. If no action is required, save everyone’s time and avoid replying with something generic like “OK.”
    • Act within 24 hours, if possible. If you must reply, try to do so within one day. This isn’t always feasible, of course – but it’s a best practice we can all strive to achieve.
    • Check email several times a day, rather than constantly, to prevent interruptions that decrease productivity.

    When sending e-mail:

    • Decide if e-mail is the best way to communicate. Time-sensitive information, as well as potential conflicts, should be handled either face-to-face or on the phone. Remember: E-mail may be “instant” but not for everyone. And e-mails don’t always deliver your tone of voice properly, which can result in miscommunication at critical, sensitive times. In those cases, verbal communication is preferable.
    • Consider your recipients’ learning styles. How would they prefer to receive the information you’re sending? If they’re “to the point” people, rely on short sentences and bullets. For detail-oriented readers be specific – but consider placing a “nut paragraph” at the top of the e-mail that boils down the essence to one short statement. That way, they’ll know if they need to read or act upon the message ASAP.
    • Insert recipient names in the “To” field only when you’re finished writing your message. This is the best way to prevent sending e-mails too soon with a mistaken click of the “send” button.
    • Reread for tone. We’ve already addressed how e-mails are prone to “tone problems.” So, before sending any message, read it from the recipient’s point of view. If you find anything that could be misunderstood or taken the wrong way, carefully reword that sentence for greater clarity\
    • Keep emails short and to the point.
      If the information can be conveyed in a paragraph or two, send an email. If it takes longer than this, the information may warrant a phone call or personal interaction.

    It’s your turn! What are your best practices for email management? Are you a fan of Inbox Zero? Let’s talk about it below.

    The post Email That Works: Best Practices for Truly Busy People appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
  • feedwordpress 13:30:19 on 2017/05/09 Permalink
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    Choosing Excellence Every Day 

    administrative_assistant_training

    I absolutely loved Joan Burge’s article, Core Admin Skills Always Need Improving! As John D. Rockefeller noted, “The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well.”

    The principle she discussed of renewing and improving core skills is closely related to what Steven Covey calls “Sharpening the Saw”:  the deliberate improvement of our tools to help us become more effective. To be of greatest benefit, sharpening the saw needs to become a habit, rather than a disruptive activity; ideally, it should be embedded in the very way you do work, and you should regularly set aside time for more focused work in this area as well.

    Can you imagine how a self-perpetuating plan for professional development would affect your work over time? The impact might at first seem to be minimal as you save a few minutes here or a headache there; over time, however, the cumulative effect of all these improvements will be to transform you from an employee who does what they are told to a professional who largely dictates the course of their career.

    To make continual improvement a part of the way you work, it is best to strive to integrate it with your work, rather than disrupting your work patterns.  This way, it complements your career instead of competing with it.  Start with some simple daily routines and then, as those improvements give you better control over your workflow, start blocking time for more ambitious development activities.  The following outlines strategies I have used to great effect in my own career to make development an integral part of my professional life.  These changes did not happen overnight, but incrementally over a course of years. Nonetheless, they outline a sure path to fulfilling your career potential.

    Lay the Foundation

    Before you can master any skill or role, you must have a holistic vision what it encompasses and entails. Achieving excellence as an administrative professional is no different.  If you do not have one yet, create a manual to define the scope of your responsibilities and the procedures you use to fulfill those responsibilities.  This is a time-consuming task, but essential.  If you have never created such a manual before – or if you want a jump-start on the process – Julie Perrine has created a great process for developing one with her “Become a Procedures Pro 5-Day Challenge“.

    Daily

    Once you have a procedures manual in place, you can use it to capture process improvements you make on the fly for later addition to your manual. For simple notes, I like to use sticky notes on the frame of my monitor as placeholders until I have a chance to document the change; when the monitor gets too crowded, then I know I need to make time for an update.

    For more complicated procedures, Julie Perrine’s program (mentioned above) includes paper templates that you can print and keep handy for creating handwritten procedures to place in your print manual until you are ready to type them up. Personally, since my work-in-progress list and manual are both in OneNote, my preferred method is to create a work-In-progress page for more complicated updates and ideas, then transfer it directly into my manual notebook when complete.

    Weekly

    At least once a week, it’s a good idea to step back and look at the bigger picture.  If you have a professional development plan, set aside 30 minutes on Friday to review your goals and make adjustments. Take note of any areas where you are falling behind; eliminate or adjust any tasks or goals that have become irrelevant or obsolete.  If you have a mentoring relationship, share this weekly review by email: this allows you to stay in touch and get feedback without placing a burden on your mentoring partner by requiring their attention “right now.”

    Monthly

    Once you have gotten into the above habits, it’s important to start scheduling time for a deeper dive into your professional development plan, as well as for extended training sessions. For the latter, be sure to also include time to make a personal action plan based on the training.

    I particularly want to mention Office Dynamics’ monthly webinars here. I have been following them for a while now, and always come away with some fresh ideas to try – more than once doing so to accolades from my executives. As Andree Caldwell noted, “The role of an Executive Assistant is to make sure the executive is always prepared, and always ‘in the know.’”  I know of no better resource available for getting that insider knowledge, and even the most unimaginative employer cannot balk at the cost: incredibly, these webinars are offered at no cost to the attendees!

    Once a month is also a great schedule for meeting with your mentoring partner; ideally, you should arrange this meeting to occur somewhere away from the office.   The change in scenery will literally light up new parts of your brain that lie dormant in your everyday environment, and face-to-face time with a trusted friend will help recharge your emotional batteries in a way that an email simply cannot do.  Beyond that, in person conversations are the right place for off -the-record conversation, and provide the opportunity for stimulating real-time debate and collaboration.

    Quarterly

    If you are proactively making time for professional development on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, you will most likely find that you have an increasing ability to dictate where you invest your time and focus.  This is a natural outgrowth of a continuous improvement habit and allows you to take your game to the next level.

    One of my favorite bloggers is Michael Hyatt; of his many wonderful suggestions, one of my favorites is what he calls the Quarterly Review: a full-day, personal, quarterly offsite in which you to take stock of your professional development plan, make course corrections and reset priorities for the coming quarter.  Make no mistake, however – this level of commitment to your development requires planning.  As Michael observes, “If you wait until you have a break in your schedule, you’ll never get to it. You have to make appointments with yourself and schedule other things around it.”  You can follow up with a special quarterly mentoring meeting for added benefit.

    If you can get your employer’s blessing for this kind of a review day – or even just a half-day – that’s great! If you can’t, then make time to do this on your own.  No one has a greater stake in your professional development than you do, and if you do not value yourself highly enough to make this investment, you will have a hard time convincing others to make the investment for you.  Conversely, when you do believe in yourself, other people cannot help but notice; they will be attracted to your energy and drive, and will be eager to help you and to be a part of your success!

    Annually

    To truly reinforce all of these habits of self-management and professional development, nothing is better than total immersion in the company of thought leaders and peers who hold your values. Even with a mentor to help you through the work outlined above, self-improvement can often lead you to what feels like a lonely place.  Administrative colleagues who have not yet adopted a professional attitude about their career may be perplexed, and even threatened, by your ambition and accomplishments. Whenever possible, put yourself in the company of those who understand what you are doing and why. Conferences will help you clarify your vision, inspire you with new ideas and connect you to the people who are willing to make what may at other times seem to be a lonely journey.

    Step into the world of a conference, and you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that, while you may be a pioneer among your peers, you are not alone in making this journey. I highly recommend making the time and investment to attend at least one major professional conference each year. A great choice, of course, is Office Dynamics’ own Conference for Administrative Excellence.  This year’s theme is The Accelerated Assistant, and if my experience last year is anything to go by, I promise it will deliver above and beyond what you can anticipate if you have not attended a conference before.  In fact, as I assimilate the enormous amount of new information and connections delivered by their 2016 program, The Revolutionary Assistant, I am still constantly finding new ways in which this investment pays off

    Conclusion

    We can choose to coast along comfortably in our administrative career, or we can choose to pursue excellence.  We can choose to uphold the status quo, or we can choose to seek continuous improvement. We can choose to let others dictate the path of our career, or we can choose to create a career that reflects the best of what we have to offer. Our careers – indeed, our lives – are driven by the values we hold and by the myriad small choices we make every day.  Choose to make yours a life of excellence by doing the common things uncommonly well.

    REFERENCES

    Burge, Joan “Core Admin Skills Always Need Improving

    Caldwell, Andrée “Executive Assistant?! What Is That Exactly…a Secretary?

    Hyatt, Michael “The Importance of the Quarterly Review

    Pavlina, Steve “Sharpen the Saw

     

     

    AUTHOR’S NOTE

    Tara E. Browne, DTM is an EA at Baystate Health in Springfield, MA, USA. Tara believes that administrative support represents one of the greatest areas of improvement opportunity in business. Collectively, administrative professionals are generally well-educated and represent a vast body of networked institutional knowledge about how business is done, yet are largely ignored in the endeavor to solve business pain. To leverage their knowledge and advance the profession, admins must learn to collaborate in new ways. In 2016, Tara founded MentorsAndMasterminds.com, a website dedicated exclusively to connecting administrative professionals (and former administrative professionals) in ways that support this vision.

     

    The post Choosing Excellence Every Day appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
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