Category: Soft Skills

Here is some written a few yearsw ago..

Some days, it feels like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. You may feel like you will never get anything done. While the occasional overloaded day is one thing, if every day at work feels like you have too much on your plate, then you may need to analyze your workload to determine where you can lighten it up. Many times, a workload analysis will reveal that you are actually spending way too much time doing things that you really do not need to devote a lot of time to.

Here are some tips for analyzing your workload:

Keep a daily timeline
For a week, write down the time increments that you work each day. Chart not only the jobs you planned to do during a period of time, but also the things that you ended up doing, including things that might have distracted you or additional chores that you did during that time. This will help you determine how you are spending your time and show you where there are potential distractions that can be eliminated.

Tally the number of times you check your email
Some experts estimate that it takes nearly 20 minutes to recover from the “break” of checking email. If you check once an hour, that is a third of the hour lost – and most people check their email far more frequently. Try to schedule your email checks so that they happen on a regular schedule, and resist the temptation to check in the intervening periods of time.

Watch out for social networking
Even if Facebook is part of your job, it can quickly eat away at your day. Social network at the end of your day, not the beginning, and unless you need to check your profile for work, let it slide off the list completely unless you have free time later. Resist the urge to post the cute thing your dog did or the annoying thing your boss did; after all, if you’re posting, then everyone can see that you’re not working!


Category: Soft Skills

You probably have noticed that you tend to “slow down” after lunch, but did you know that most people get the majority of the work that they are going to accomplish in a day done before they head out for their lunch break? If you work at home, then this lunch-pitfall can be an even bigger issue since you may not have a set lunch break or may have a variety of other factors that interrupt your morning work time so that your productivity levels are even further lowered.

Fortunately, the after-lunch lag is not inevitable; it’s a habit. And habits can be broken. Here are some ways to get the most out of your mornings, then keep on getting results all afternoon if you wish or need to do so:

Get right to work
Whether you stumble out of bed and straight to your computer or drive into work, once you arrive you need to be on task. This gives you more morning hours and lowers the likelihood of distraction. This means that while you need to be pleasant to co-workers, you need to avoid the morning coffee-room chatter and any more than a basic exchange with adjacent colleagues.

Set up a routine
A routine that helps you get started in the morning can be used after lunch – or after other interruptions – to jump-start you back into productivity. If you are at home (or you have a private office) then stretching is one of the best ways to focus and relax. Five to ten minutes of stretching is a great way to limber up and focus on your mind on the tasks ahead of you. Do it in the morning before you sit down to work, then repeat the exercises after lunch. As you continue this habit, your body and mind will begin to respond to the stretching by being ready and open for work once you finish the stretches. This will enable you to use your stretching routine any time you start to feel fuzzy, lazy or lose focus.

Keep your electronic communications limited
Each time you check your email, that is an interruption. Keep the window closed except for certain times during the day that you designate to check and respond to emails. Like it or not, most employees multitask (even if they do not mean to and do not realize it) by checking email, IMing, Facebooking or reading news feeds throughout the day while they are working. Keeping these windows closed except for designated times will dramatically up your productivity level immediately. And if you need to always be accessible by email, that is fine. Just check it every 15 minutes. Even giving yourself 15 minutes where that little “mail” icon is not popping up to let you know that you have made contact will dramatically increase your focus during that 15 minutes.

Category: Soft Skills

We've all been at work and had one of those moments where you just want to lay your head down on the desk and cry. No matter how much you love your job, sometimes it can feel like too much. While you are going to have a "manic Monday" every once in a while no matter how well you plan, you can use these tips and tricks to get ahead and work and make sure that your workdays run as smoothly as possible

Set Deadlines for Your Deadlines
If you know that something is due in two weeks, put it on your calendar as due in a week and a half. This will help you delegate your time so that if there are last-minute changes or emergencies, you have the time left over to deal with them. 

Designate Time to Check Email
Some studies indicate that it takes up to 30 minutes after checking email for your focus to return completely. Check it only a few times per day unless your job dictates otherwise, and the rest of the time, close that browser window and let yourself work!

Work as Long as Possible Before Lunch
Most peoples' productivity is cut literally in half after lunch. So while it is tempting to have that break as soon as possible, if you can snack at your desk and push your actual lunch hour as late as 2pm you could dramatically increase your productivity and focus for an additional 2 hours

By following these tips you will find that your workday runs more smoothly and is far more rewarding than ever before!

Category: Soft Skills

Sometimes, you just have to get creative. You might not want to - everyone has those days when they really just want to follow the rules, keep their head down and not make waves - but creativity will not only help you find solutions to problematic issues at work; it will also help you stand out at work as a problem solver and innovator. However, the creative juices do not always flow on demand. If you are having trouble solving office problems creatively (or at all, for that matter), try these simple tricks to stimulate your flexible thinking:

1.    Put yourself in someone else's shoes
Sometimes a problem seems utterly intractable because you simply cannot understand why it is there. This is particularly the case with office interpersonal issues. If you cannot understand the problem, you definitely will have trouble solving it! Try to see the issue - honestly - from someone else's perspective. Sometimes just seeing where the problem started (even if you think the whole thing is ridiculous) can help you see your way to a solution.

2.    What if you could do anything?
If you cannot see your way to realistically resolving an issue, take a break from reality! That's right: pretend you can do absolutely anything. How would you solve the problem? (Note: avoid resolutions like "kick her in the knee" since that would not actually resolve the issue). Thinking about a problem without your self-imposed confines will often open up avenues that you did not previously investigate.

3.    Identify what you really want
Sometimes a problem exists because you are not clear about the outcome that you want. Be selfish: decide what you think will solve the problem and then determine if a change in your condition alone is enough to resolve the issue. Sometimes just changing your perspective can resolve the issue.

By implementing this advice, you will be able to see your office issues in new and creative lights that will likely result in your problem soon being solved.

Category: Soft Skills

As a gatekeeper, your role is just what it sounds like: you have to "guard" your office, your supervisor and the rest of the members of your staff. While it may sometimes be useful to hear sales pitches and other presentations from companies and individuals who want to sell your company products or services, many businesses make a habit of "cold calling" potential clients. While sometimes this results in a sale, it also can completely demolish a carefully planned schedule and keep your employer from getting things done that really must be done. As a gatekeeper, you must sometimes keep those salespeople at bay - literally - by identifying them before they move past you and start their pitch to your boss.

For starters, be aware that not all salespeople are "evil." They are just doing their jobs like anyone else. However, some salespeople will try to trick their way into an audience. For example, they may ask for your employer by his or her first name, as if they are personal acquaintances. It may be tempting to simply forward on someone who appears to be on a first-name basis, but this is a common trick. Make sure you identify the person calling and clear them before sending them on.

Next, be kind but firm. If your boss does not take sales calls, period, then do not tell a salesperson that he or she could call them back. Simply state firmly that your company does not handle sales in this manner. Be polite but do not bend. If you sound like you might change your mind, then you convey the message that another call a different time might yield different results. If your boss or someone else in the company does handle sales, but in a scheduled fashion, then it is perfectly fine to firmly set a time for the salesperson to call back and speak to someone.

Being a gatekeeper is not always easy. Sometimes you will feel like the "bad guy" because people trying to get past you may feel frustrated and take that out on you. However, you can rest assured that you are doing the best that you can do for your boss and your company if you are sticking to company policy and keeping the gates up when necessary.

Category: Soft Skills

As an assistant of any level, you will be exposed to a large portion of your employer's colleagues, friends and business associates. You and the administrators affiliated with these people will also be working closely together. Add to this the fact that you are probably one of the first points of contact when people within your own office need information and help, then you can clearly see that your behavior is going to be constantly on parade and your abilities on display.

This can stress some administrators out. As a result, they may be unnecessarily curt, do their best to stay holed up in their office or even let the stress impact their professional demeanor and occasionally "flake" or lose their tempers. This is a problem for them professionally, but it is also a problem for the administrative community at large, since high-level administrative assistants are, like it or not, role models for pretty much everyone else in the office.

You may think that this is really not that big of a deal. However, the behavior of an administrator or administrative assistant directly impacts the tenor and personality of the entire office. If you are calm, in control and always helpful, then you will soon see that others in the office mimic your behavior. By expecting the best of yourself, others will soon start to expect the best from themselves as well. In addition, your remaining cool and collected prevents others from giving themselves a "pass" when things go wrong and allowing themselves to lose their tempers or behave unprofessionally.

Particularly if you have been with an employer for a long time, you must never let your temper take over. Not only will other administrators follow your suit, but your employer will soon come to associate your behavior with the rest of the office's professional actions. A good administrative assistant can influence an entire office positively, so make sure that you are always the source of positive energy and actions. Your employer will thank you with loyalty and professional rewards as well, while your job will get progressively easier because everyone around you is happy to work with you.

Category: Soft Skills

Internet research can be tricky. While you can find information online about just about anything, you cannot be certain that the information that you are finding is correct. Even if you have ascertained that your information is coming from a reliable source, you still need to be sure that you are allowed to reproduce it, and to what degree. Failure to handle your internet research correctly can result in problems not just for your, but for your employer as well, so make sure that you check off each of these tips every time you do research using the internet.

1. Make sure you are using a legitimate source of information.

When you search for information online, you need to be certain that your information is coming from an informed source. Websites that end in ".org" or ".edu" are generally reliable, but you need to check the credibility of the author of the site. If the author is not listed or does not appear to have any reason for knowing the things that they are writing about, think carefully before using that source of information. Additionally, compilations of information like Wikipedia generally are not acceptable sources of information since anyone can write on just about anything.

2. Cite your sources if you are not covering common knowledge.

Somewhere in your materials, you do need to include the sources of your information. The easiest way to do this is with the automatic footnotes in Microsoft Word, which will insert footnotes for you. However, check with your employer to see if they prefer a different format.

3. Never copy word-for-word without quotes.

If you copy something and do not cite it and place quotes around any word-for-word replications, you are committing plagiarism. This is professionally irresponsible and can ruin both your reputation and that of your employer.

By carefully evaluating your sources of information when you do research using the internet and being responsible when you cite that information, you will be able to do sound research online.

Category: Soft Skills

Your attitude impacts everyone around you, and it can actually affect things that you might not expect, such as your ability to get job promotions or your phone voice and email etiquette. On days when the going gets tough, you may find it difficult to keep a sunny smile on your face. Studies indicate, however, that if you can do this successfully your professional life will benefit.

So how can you sincerely turn that frown upside down when the entire world seems to be conspiring against your productivity? Should you just grin and bear it? Absolutely not. While grinning and bearing it may be better than hurling things at your boss's head, for example, ultimately toughing it out will not have the desired impact on your attitude and can make you even more negative and discouraged in the long run.

Instead, take several deep, calming breaths. The first time that you do this, it may be quite hard. You may be angry, depressed and feel hopeless. However, you must not only leave those feelings behind, but actually talk yourself into changing your outlook on the situation. Once you have taken a few moments to distance yourself from the problem, try to minimize any hurt or slight. Our attitudes are largely impacted not by actual events, but by the way that our emotions affect our perception of those events. As a result, it is a much bigger deal when an employer appears to be taking our work for granted than when our work actually turns out to have been ignored or unproductive. Try to look at the situation objectively, focusing on the actual good that you accomplished rather than how you feel about how your efforts were received. Remember, you cannot change how other people behave, but you can change the ways in which you react to their behavior.

Once you have achieved a more objective, less emotionally tangled viewpoint on whatever may be bringing you down; you will likely find that your attitude has lightened up as well. Call a friend for a minute or two to see if they can detect trouble in your voice. If not, then you have likely accomplished your attitude adjustment and are ready to continue with your day in a productive, professional manner.

Category: Soft Skills

I was reading this article, would be angry if some one tried some of these, insulted on others and on number 3 would just irriate me to make a quick hang up.  I thought it would be fun to post and see what others think: 

The Top 7 Ways to Get Past Gatekeepers
Category: Soft Skills

If you serve as any type of administrative assistant, you may not realize how important it is to develop your leadership skills. After all, most of your best work is likely done partially or entirely behind the scenes. However, in reality, your leadership abilities are vital to your success - even if you work in a virtual capacity and enter the office seldom or never. Leadership is more than inspiring people. It is also all about getting things done effectively. As a result, good leadership skills will make your role as an administrative assistant far more rewarding and fulfilling.

 When it comes to admin positions, much of your role probably involves negotiations. Just because you are not on the front lines "duking it out" with competitors and vendors does not mean you are not critical to the success of these meetings. You must take a firm but helpful tone when it comes to setting up meeting times and making sure that people are where they need to be. This not only means getting your boss in place, but it also means setting the tone when you set meetings with other people. If they have had a positive experience working with your company through you before they ever encounter your superiors, then the meetings are certain to progress more smoothly. You might want to work with your boss to establish the tone that they would like you to set when you are making appointments so that the two of you are working together from the start to accomplish business goals.

In addition to being the first point of contact for clients and potential clients, you will also likely be involved in a fair amount of supervision and delegation - even if those words are nowhere in your job description. Strong leadership skills will help you get people where they need to be on time and enable you to get results when you request information or assistance from other people in your business network. Being able to elicit aid in a way that actually gets the response that you need is a key leadership skill for any admin position.

Finally, whether you realize it or not, your involvement in the basic organization of the business sets you up as a mentor and role model to other members of your office. You probably know that you know more about running the business and how things work than a lot of other employees. Using this information in a helpful fashion to enable others to succeed with you is one of the best ways to use your leadership skills to benefit the entire business.



Category: Soft Skills

When you apply for a job, you probably understand - more or less - the requirements of the position going in. Furthermore, you probably believe that you have the skills and ability to perform the tasks involved in the position, or you would not apply. However, we all know that there is more to getting - and keeping - a position than simply meeting the paper requirements of a job. This is particularly true in administrative positions, which rely heavily on your ability to work with other people effectively. When it comes to this type of position, you will not only need technical skills like word processing and computer literacy, you will also need to cultivate an effective set of "soft skills" that will show an employer from the very beginning that you have what it takes to get the job done.

Here are some examples of "soft skills" that will help you nail an interview and secure a position:

  • Effective communication
  • Responsibility
  • High self-esteem
  •  Working well with others

The best way to demonstrate from the initial meeting on that you possess these skills is by:

  • Being prepared
  • Bring copies of your resume, a pen, and samples of your work. You should also have a few prepared questions, letters of recommendation and a list of additional references.
  • Presenting yourself effectively
  • Dress professionally - even if the office code does not require it. Smile and speak clearly. Make sure your handshake is firm.
  • Be friendly

You never know who all might be involved in the decision to give you a job. Always be polite starting with the receptionist and moving forward. Do your best to make the interview flow like a conversation.

If this list reads like a list of interview tips, that is because it is. While you will have to cultivate your soft skills throughout your career just as you would build on existing technical abilities, you will only have one shot at showing a potential employer that you have the soft skills as well as the technical ones to function effectively in a position. Starting out by demonstrating your effectiveness at communication and working with others is the best way to set off on the right foot in a new job and continue on that successful path.