THE WHOLE ASSISTANT METHOD FOR PRIORITIZING

productivity Jun 20, 2019

In a few weeks, I will be launching Whole Assistant’s first-ever course, Ultimate Time Management for Assistants (or UTMA). Let me just say… eeeek!

I’m so excited about this because I know the impact a good time management system can have on our productivity as assistants… especially a time management system that addresses the unique challenges and obstacles us assistants face on a daily basis.

The Whole Assistant Method for Prioritizing

Today I’m giving a sneak-peek into one of the lessons of UTMA, The Whole Assistant Method for Prioritizing. If you’re anything like me you’ve struggled with prioritizing at some point during your career. Over my 18 years of working as an assistant, I’ve fumbled, made mistakes, and ultimately distilled and perfected my method for prioritizing. It’s simple, effective, and easy to understand. Enjoy!


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Check out the Transcription:

Hey guys, I'm Annie of Wholeassistant.com and in a few very short weeks I'll be launching my first ever course entitled Ultimate Time Management for Assistants or UTMA. I could not be more excited for this course and launching it and putting it out in the world, because I know what an impact a good time management system can have for us, especially us as assistants and especially a system catered to assistants and the unique challenges that we face every day.

So today I'm going to give you a sneak peek into one of the lessons of UTMA entitled the Whole Assistant Method for Prioritizing. So if you're anything like me, you have struggled with prioritizing in the past, but over my 17 years of or more actually now as an assistant, I have developed a system for prioritizing that has become second nature. It's almost like breathing.

So I'm going to share with you kind of a framework for how I prioritize my time and a little glimpse into my course. So the very first thing I would tell everybody is to get clear on their executive's priorities. And when I say executive, take that to mean whatever you need it to mean. For some of us it's our manager, maybe report to multiple people. Whatever the case is to you. I hope that you take this information and kind of translate it to mean whatever that means for you. And that's just, and one of the reasons that I'm really excited about this course is that it's geared to assistants, and we all have such varied roles. And so take this information and apply it in whatever way makes sense for your role and your situation.

So the first step, as I was saying before, is to get really clear on your executive or manager's priorities and adopt them as your own.

And I actually teach another lesson in UTMA, prior to the lesson we're going to talk about today, that goes into how to get clear on your executive's goals and priorities, and how to hold those priorities for him, even though he may not always be able to focus on those things. So it's really important that we get clear on those things and adopt them as our own priorities. Because we can have this idea of what we think our executive's priorities are and may not be accurate. So I go into several ways into learning how to decipher what your executive's priorities are in the course. So be sure to stay tuned for more information on how to get the course and check all that out.

Okay, so the first step in the Whole Assistant Method for Prioritizing, excuse me, the first thing we really want to prioritize, is to handle tasks for which there are a hard deadline or others are waiting on.

This includes expense reports, meeting requests, report pulling, reservations, those sorts of things, as well as the high-level things that your executive is hoping you'll do for him. So this is number one. These things should be a priority for us as people are relying on them and as our executive is relying on them. And your executive, remember that you are a spokesperson or a ... you stand in the gap for your executive. So you're representing him all the time. So it's really important that everything you do, you do as he would have you do it. Or even one step further, take it one step further than he would have you do it so that you're being an impeccable assistant and you're providing exemplary service to him and to the rest of your team. So just keep that in mind, that we are always representing our executive in everything we do.

So when I, so first of all, to go back, your number one priority should be those things that people are waiting on or are urgent or time-sensitive. Tackle those things first. And then you also want to be sure to ask for clear guidelines, including deadlines, so that you know where it fits on the priority scale, right, where it is in terms of priority. And then for competing priorities, it's okay to ask. You can ask your executive what his priority is in any given situation. I know I have spent lots of time trying to get inside my executive's brain and trying to figure out what the priority is if there are two competing priorities. Just ask. It's so much faster. It's so much simpler. It's so much easier to just ask.

Now I will say that I would not bother my executive for everything. I would think on my own, and I would take what I learned from the priorities that he said this time and I would adopt them and I would know for next time what his priorities are. And as you work with your executive more, you'll begin to understand what the priority is and which priorities are really going to be important for him or her moving forward. So the first thing that I would handle are those things that have a hard deadline or people are waiting on. Those are the number one priority.

And then handle the tasks that are important but don't have a hard deadline. They aren't necessarily urgent. They don't need to be done this afternoon or this week or tomorrow. But they are a priority for your executive and your organization. So you want to handle those as well. So these things include maybe a project. I know that I have worked on setting up our CRM for our company and that was a high priority item. It wasn't going to happen overnight. But I set time aside, and I prioritize that because I knew it was really important that we get that rolled out. And I also strategize as to the onboarding and all that sort of stuff.

So that's an example of a high priority item, implementing a CRM or a client relations management system that is not necessarily related to a deadline. I mean, I did have a deadline, but it was like six months out or I had a deadline for myself. But it wasn't, there was no hard deadline for implementing everything. Okay.

And then last but not least, you want to handle tasks or actually last case least in this case, you want to handle tasks that are necessary but of low importance. So for me, that's filing. That's keeping myself organized. That's making sure everything is straightened out on my Trello board to-do list, those kinds of things.

Nobody's ever going to know if they're done, but they are still important because it keeps me organized and I'm on the right path to completing things. And a good example of this would be like ordering supplies. You know it's, people will notice if you don't do it over time, but it's, the priority level is probably a little bit lower on that.

And then other things to keep in mind as you're prioritizing and considering how to prioritize are how long will it take to complete the task. If it's going to take only five minutes and it's like a medium priority task, just go ahead and do it. Get it off your plate. If it's going to take two hours, set some time aside and be intentional about when you're actually going to complete that task.

And then also, I think so often we get confused with whether a task is truly important or merely urgent. So ask yourself if a task that you are handling is truly urgent, is truly important or just merely urgent. And sometimes we can get sideswiped with colleagues and coworkers who for them it's important, but in the broad picture it's really not. It's just urgent. It's on you, it's on their plate right now, so, therefore, it's urgent. So handle those situations with care and with tact, but just realize and really assess whether or not that situation can wait to be handled or if it truly is important and worthy of your time and energy and effort at this moment.

And it's okay to assess those requests by coworkers and slide them into your priority list appropriately. I think so often we train people to expect immediate action on things that are not necessarily urgent or important just because they are asked of us when we really need to be actually considering and be mindful of the fact that it may not be a task for today or tomorrow. It may need to wait a couple of weeks.

And there are plenty of ways to tell your coworker those things without upsetting or offending them and to handle those things with tact. Let your coworker know exactly what's on your plate. Let them know where it falls in your priority list so that they can know when to expect results from you.

So those are my best tips for prioritizing and I go into much more depth in my course, Ultimate Time Management for Assistants. Yeah, so I'm really excited about this course. And if you're interested, I'm also offering a free Webinar, Trello for Assistants, how to create the ultimate master to-do list in Trello. And guys, Trello has been a total game-changer for me. I work so much better and so much different than I did ever before I used Trello and nothing falls through the cracks now. I'm able to keep all the balls in the air and know exactly where everything is at all the time with this new system.

So be sure to sign up for, to be the first to know about this free Trello Webinar I'm going to be offering at the end of July, beginning of August. At the end of that Webinar, I'm going to go into some detail about UTMA and explain how you can sign up for the course as well. So that is all for today. Thank you for tuning in. If you're listening, I'm super excited to be here with you and to be sharing a little glimpse, a little sneak peek into UTMA. Okay, guys, that's all for now. Have a great rest of your week.

 

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