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  • feedwordpress 16:51:50 on 2017/07/10 Permalink
    Tags: , Career Management, , , , , , ,   

    Build Structure out of Chaos (Part 4 of 4 Part Series) 

    administrative_assistant_trainingTo end my 4 part series, I wanted to share my quick list of tips with you. In case you missed the rest of the series, you can read part 1 here, part 2 here and part 3 here. Remember that doing several little things throughout your day can also improve your productivity. You can pick and choose which ones you would like to try. Best of luck.

     

    1. Standardize processes.

    2. Focus on tasks of high value.

    3. Clarify objectives.

    4. Learn to think on paper.

    5. Anticipate upcoming work events or projects.

    6. Avoid backlogs of work by keeping information flowing.

    7. Flexibility leads to control. Use your “to do” list or other tools, but don’t let them control you.

    8. When given a project or task, get all the information you can at once.

    9. Excuse yourself from idle chatter after a few minutes.

    10.When involved in discussions, stick to the issue at hand.

    11.Finish what you start; avoid jumping around (multitasking).

    12.Keep an organized workspace.

     

    I hope you enjoyed this 4 part Series.

    The post Build Structure out of Chaos (Part 4 of 4 Part Series) appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
  • feedwordpress 13:30:07 on 2017/07/10 Permalink
    Tags: , Career Management, , , , ,   

    Build Structure out of Chaos (Part 4 of 4 Part Series) 

    training_for_executive_assistants

    To end my 4 part series, I wanted to share my quick list of tips with you. In case you missed the rest of the series, you can read part 1 here, part 2 here and part 3 here. Remember that doing several little things throughout your day can also improve your productivity. You can pick and choose which ones you would like to try. Best of luck.

    1. Standardize processes.
    2. Focus on tasks of high value.
    3. Clarify objectives.
    4. Learn to think on paper.
    5. Anticipate upcoming work events or projects.
    6. Avoid backlogs of work by keeping information flowing.
    7. Flexibility leads to control. Use your “to do” list or other tools, but don’t let them control you.
    8. When given a project or task, get all the information you can at once.
    9. Excuse yourself from idle chatter after a few minutes.
    10. When involved in discussions, stick to the issue at hand.
    11. Finish what you start; avoid jumping around (multitasking).
    12. Keep an organized workspace.

    I hope you enjoyed this 4 part Series. I hope you continue to enjoy your summer.

    Joan Burge

    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.

    admin_training

    The post Build Structure out of Chaos (Part 4 of 4 Part Series) appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
  • feedwordpress 13:30:23 on 2017/06/26 Permalink
    Tags: , Career Management, , , , ,   

    Reducing Information Overload (Part 3 of 4 Part Series) 

    training_for_assistants

    To continue my series on better managing your day and work, today I am focusing on information overload. I’m sure you can relate. If you missed the prior parts of this series, you can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

    There’s just too much information out there! In fact, information processing accounts for half the gross national product—and most of it ends up on paper that someone has to read. You don’t have to fall prey to information overload. You just have to be more selective about the information you choose to take in. Here are five steps to becoming a picky information consumer.

    Step 1: Don’t read everything that comes to you. You simply can’t absorb everything you think you need to know. Once you admit that, you’ll be better able to prioritize, delegate or ignore the information that comes your way.

    Step 2: Assess your information sources. Take some time to decide which action, Web site, report or professional association information that isn’t of the highest quality.

    Step 3: Scan for information. When you open a publication, look through the table of contents first. Scan for topics and article summaries. Choose only articles or reports that you need to read. Don’t waste your time on information just because it’s mildly interesting to you. Stick to what’s important.

    Step 4: Use your highlighter. Once you commit to reading an article, underline any information you want to refer to later. Throw out any article or report where you haven’t highlighted any passages.

    Step 5:  Be an example. If you don’t want to get bogged down by long e-mails or voice messages, keep your own short. Let others know that they should keep their information as concise as possible—and mention it to them nicely when they don’t.

    Wishing you great success applying these steps this week!

    Joan Burge

    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.

    admin_training

    The post Reducing Information Overload (Part 3 of 4 Part Series) appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:00:03 on 2017/06/12 Permalink
    Tags: , Career Management, , , , , ,   

    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 13:30:19 on 2017/05/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , Career Management, ,   

    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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