Organizational Skills

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With the busy schedule that assistants have to keep, organizational skills are essential to success. You must learn how to prioritize, plan, and work towards your goals. Organization is a skill that you can always work to improve. However, by implementing the following techniques, you will improve your efficiency as an assistant.

Prioritizing Your Workload

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You will work more efficiently if you learn how to prioritize your workload into four tiers. Use the urgent important matrix to help you identify your tasks. The tasks will be given priorities based how urgent and important they are.

  • Top priority should be given to tasks that are both urgent and important. These need to be done immediately. 
  • The second priority should be given to tasks that are important but not as urgent. If you spend enough time on tasks in the second tier, you will reduce the number of urgent tasks. Plan to do these tasks the same day. 
  • The third tier includes urgent but unimportant tasks that should be done today. If you ignore tasks in this tier, they may become both urgent and important.
  • The bottom tier includes tasks that are not urgent or important. Label them as tasks that cannot be forgotten. These tasks may carry over to the next day.

Goal Setting

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You need to establish goals to prioritize and organize your work related tasks. You should establish long-term and short-term goals for your personal and professional life. It is important to align your short-term work goals with your manager’s. It is also important that you create SMART goals.

Goals cannot be achieved if they are impossible. SMART goals make it easier to achieve success because you know that success is within your reach.

SMART Goals:

  • Specific: Goals must be specific. An example of a specific goal is, reply to all emails. 
  • Measurable: Measurable goals allow you to realize when they are attained. For example, research for one hour each day.
  • Attainable: All goals, particularly short-term goals, need to be attainable. For example, completing a project a week early is probably not attainable.
  • Relevant: Goals must be relevant to your situation. A goal to learn a new language is probably not relevant to a financial project.
  • Timely: Goals require specific deadlines. For example, complete the project by 5:00 pm on Friday.

Plan for Tomorrow, Today

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You should schedule the next day when the current day ends. Planning each day in the week is not feasible because your tasks and priorities will change. You need to wait until the end of the workday to plan for tomorrow. List all of the meetings, appointments, and relevant events in your plan. Note unfinished tasks for today to combine with new ones for tomorrow. Make a list of all tasks for the next day and prioritize them. Add the tasks from the list to your plan, according to their priorities. If you take the time to plan at the end of the day, you will be able to save time the next morning and stay focused on your plan.

Staying on Track

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Keeping your organizational skills on track is easier said than done. Your life may be organized on paper, but it is easy to become overwhelmed when the problems and distractions come. However, staying on track will make your life easier and increase your productivity. 

Tips to Stay on Track:

  • De-clutter: Keep your workspace clean and free of clutter. Put away files and papers once you are finished with them and at the end of each day.
  • Use technology: Software and apps are available to keep you on schedule.
  • Two minute rule: If a task takes less than two minutes, such as filing a paper you are done using, perform it. This will prevent tiny tasks from piling up.
  • Balance: Schedule your personal life’s needs such as exercise and hobbies.
  • Be flexible: Your schedule is not set in stone. Be ready to adjust it if necessary. 

Case Study

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Allen decided that he was going to become organized. He created SMART goals, prioritized his activities, and established his schedule. His plan began to fall apart by the second day. Allen’s manager gave him an emergency project to finish. His down time was gone, and there was no way that he would be able to keep up with the schedule he created. Allen decided to stop trying to keep himself organized and focused on handling the emergency his boss gave him.