Make Time for People

We have a role that is task driven and it can be natural to put our heads to the keyboard and not look up from 9-5... but we are in the business of serving people. So even though we are responsible for the leg work to move things forward, it is so important that along the way, we don't trample the people that are in our way. 

This week I want to encourage you to make time for others. Walk around the office and ask your coworkers about their days, life, and families. Take a ten minute starbucks run with someone you have been wanting to get to know better. If you are grabbing a quick lunch, ask another assistant to make the run with you. Bring others along for the journey.

Assisting can be isolating. You are the vault of the company and often you can forget that although there is much you can't divulge, your life is not an island. Enjoy this adventure with others.

Your turn: What is a way that you intentionally make time for people? 


Remembering It All

One of the most challenging responsibilities for an assistant is remembering it all. Each day we are told through hallway conversations, text messages, emails, and phone calls about details we need to remember, follow up on, or complete by any given date. Some of these tasks are due that day, others in six months, and even others are simply to just “file away for later”. Hilariously, a close friend and former assistant used to keep a file in her cabinet called “Stuff I was Told to Hold on to”.

New assistants ask me how I remember all the things I am told each day (unfortunately, I don’t and still am learning new ways to make sure I don’t forget). We all have to figure out the best system for us, but here are some routines and resources that have really helped me along the way:

  • I carry my phone with me everywhere, so if I have a hallway conversation, I don’t even expect to remember by the time I get back to my desk. Instead, I add a note in my Google Tasks app so I can check it off when I get to it.

  • If I receive a text, and it’s…

    • something I need to do, I will copy and paste it to my Google tasks

    • something I need to follow up with someone else on, I will either copy and text that person immediately, or email to myself to take care of when I can give it my full attention

  • If it’s an email that I need to get more details about before responding, I will print it for when I get to meet with my boss OR I will flag it to go over later

  • If I am given a paper invitation, I will add the date to the calendar (with a week out alarm), RSVP, and order a gift right away, and then put in my tickler file to review the day before.

  • Any receipts I get, I put in a red folder to reconcile on the 2nd of the month.

  • Any papers for my boss, I put in a blue folder that I bring in to our meetings to review.

  • I keep a notepad at my desk when I am overwhelmed to jot down notes that randomly come to mind but I don’t have the minute to address.

Recently I have started trying to do these two things at the end of each day, which have been game changers for my forgetfulness:

  • I review all the text conversations I have had (Apple, please make an “unread” option in your iPhone texts!) that day to make sure there wasn’t anything that I overlooked.

  • I have a 10 minute mind unload when I review the day and conversations I had, asking the Holy Spirit to bring to mind anything I forgot to complete. It is amazing what a kind and gentle helper He is in my weakness.

This is not a full proof system, but it has helped me greatly in remembering everything that comes my way throughout each day.

Your Turn: What ideas and resources do you use to help you remember it all?

Assistants are the Exception

I have always appreciated the quote “a lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine”. It encourages people to think ahead and be ready for what’s coming. But this quote absolutely does not apply to assistants. This is actually just one of the many reasons assistants exist. It may not be for lack of preparation but rather for the pace of running a non-profit, church, or business, our bosses rely on the fact that we as assistants are here for exactly these moments, (please understand this in the healthiest way) to drop everything and tend to these urgent needs. Sometimes life just happens, and when the unanticipated springs up, we are here to help care for people or get a task completed.

When people ask me what I do every day, I smile. Each day can be totally different. Sure, I have my consistent routines of responding to emails, scheduling appointments, sending cards, and taking meeting notes. However, what makes this job so exciting (and overwhelming at times) is that I enter each day never exactly sure what I will be responsible for accomplishing.

My boss is one of the most prepared people I know, so please understand my context when I shared the above quote, but truly “an unexpected opportunity, a last minute flight change, a family in a desperate situation, or an urgent conversation on their part IS what consitutes a change of priority on ours” and that is what assisting is all about — being there for when the unplanned circumstance arises to say, “I will take care of it. You can trust me to tend to this need, in an excellent and timely manner.”