Making Time Count

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Vashi Suredin gives her top tips for making time count when managing your working day

“I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it is comes to you… to make each day count.” ~ Jack Dawson, Titanic

“Making each day count” is an interesting concept, but how do we do that? We often wish that we could fit more hours into the day. There is always so much to do, so many people to see, but we usually carry out the responsibility of utilising our own time, as well as that of our executive, with grace.

Managing your time and that of your executive is of utmost importance as directly translates to your executive’s productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency, as well as your own. One of my biggest goals has always been to be a step ahead of my executive (still getting there), in knowing what they require, why and by when.

As an Executive Assistant you need to know your business, know your executive’s responsibilities, and what is important to them. Once you are involved and know what is going on, you can be a step ahead.  It then becomes relatively easy to manage the rest; you will know what is to be done when, how and by whom.

Time management and diary management go hand in hand, you cannot do one without the other. A thought that must always be with you is “Am I utilising my time the right way” and “is this the best use of my executive’s time?”

Here are some simple tips that help me:

1. Stay focused

Do not be distracted by the noise around you. Use the allocated time for what it is meant.

2. Know what you want to achieve

Know the objective of a meeting, a discussion, and the day.

3. Write it down

Nothing feels better than that moment when you strike the task off your “to do list”.

4. Schedule it in your diary

Be it sending an email, reading documents, writing a report, remember “what gets scheduled, gets done”.

5. Prioritise your tasks

6. Schedule time to plan

Time to get thinking, to get planning, to get your creative juices flowing! Take time to plan meetings, the month, and the year. When you are doing this ensure you also take into consideration your personal plans (e.g. kids’ school holidays, birthdays, anything special that you need to do). Take your executive’s personal life into consideration as well.

7. Be proactive

Is there something that you can assist with, or action on behalf of your executive? For example, if your executive receives an email requesting information, you could reach out to the relevant person and have the information ready to present to your executive, saving them time.

Whatever you decide to do, ensure that it resonates with you. It must feel right and must work for you, your executive, and your office.

8. Be flexible

As much as we plan, there are always things that happen unexpectedly.  We need to respond appropriately to these events.

9. Use your travel time

Whether it is listening to a short motivating podcast or your favourite song or meditating or catching up on your emails, use the time wisely so when you get to the office, you are already ready for the day.

10. Be present

I know this sounds like such a cliché, however when you are truly in the moment, you know exactly how to respond to any situation – good or disastrous!

Have a positive mindset and tackle each challenge with absolute enthusiasm. One of my previous executives had a sign on her door that went something like “Only problems with solutions welcome”.

Conclusion

How you manage your time is greatly dependent on you, your office, and your executive’s needs. These must be in sync with each other. It is a great responsibility to do the right thing at the right time, whilst also doing what works for you and your executive.

At the end of the day, reflect and ask yourself “Was today that day? Did I make it count?” You will find that you have lived many, many special days that made a difference, by successfully managing your time.

Here’s to making each day count!

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About Author

Vashi Suredin

Vashi Suredin is currently having fun as an Executive Assistant at an international financial services organisation based in South Africa. As well as being a proud mum to two beautiful girls and two gorgeous huskies, she has over ten years experience as an EA in the financial services and government sectors. Vashi has a Postgraduate Diploma in Communications Management from the University of Pretoria and a BTech Degree in Public Relations Management from the Tshwane University of Technology.

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