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in the moment

In January I made a New Year’s resolution to be more “in the moment.” My goal is to appreciate and focus on the present and spend less time dwelling on the past or future events that I can’t control. Since we’re almost halfway through 2015 I thought it would be a good time to step back and evaluate my progress.

In general, I would say I’m doing a pretty good job sticking to this resolution. Some days are better than others and it is definitely an ongoing challenge, but I’ve been able to employ a few daily practices that help me follow through on my goal.

One thing I try to do every day is prioritize my “to-do list.” I’m one of those types who keep a written list. It’s usually pretty varied and almost always long. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when I think about everything I have written down. So, I don’t. Instead, I look for items that must be completed immediately. If something has a hard deadline or if I have a pre-arranged appointment or meeting I will make it my focus in that moment. There aren’t usually too many of these tasks in any given day so once they are completed I can move on to ones with softer deadlines. If I get through those, there are always more general tasks on my list. These types of tasks have a deadline of “I would love to get this done someday.”

To further encourage myself to stay in the moment I’ve been working on being flexible. I have kids. Not only are kids always in the moment, they are good at forcing us, as parents and caregivers, into their moment. When my toddler decides he’s hungry it means he’s hungry now, not in an hour from now when I planned to make lunch. I have to adapt accordingly. I know that plans can change in an instant and I have to be willing to temporarily set aside my carefully prioritized task list to deal with the situation at hand.

At the end of the day I usually do spend just a few minutes mentally reviewing the day’s accomplishments. I admit that I can be my own worst critic and feeling like I haven’t gotten through as much as I should can lead to a lot of self-doubt. So, on those days when I don’t feel as productive as I want to be, I try hard to maintain a realistic perspective and to be forgiving. Sometimes I need to remind myself that the world will not end just because I didn’t get through every email in my inbox or if there are still three loads of laundry to be folded. It just gives me somewhere to start tomorrow.

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keep-calm-and-always-prioritizeAnyone in an administrative position knows that an “administrator” can mean anything. There is no set job description. While there may be a set of tasks that you do daily, weekly or monthly, your job largely varies from day to day. That is certainly true with my position at AMPED. Although it is refreshing to constantly be doing new tasks, sometimes it’s difficult to keep everything straight. Here are some great tips I’ve learned to keep myself organized while getting everything done.

Make a list. Making a “to-do-list” may seem like an old fashioned notion, but I view it as a life saver, especially on my busy days. When you are working on a number of projects with various deadlines for different colleagues or clients, it is really easy to have things fall through the cracks. Writing out a list serves as a reminder for what jobs I need to complete on any given day. Additionally, crossing out an item on my list gives me a great sense of accomplishment!

Prioritize. When you have to work on more than one task for more than one client or co-worker, you need to know what tasks are most important and time-sensitive. It’s usually obvious which projects you should work on first; a task for an event tomorrow is far more urgent than a task for an event happening in six months. Be aware of your colleague’s deadlines so that you can set your own. This way, you will not only be able to prioritize your own projects, but also give your colleagues a realistic expectation of when you will complete a task.

Communicate. Communication is a lifelong skill that is helpful in any type of position. When a colleague or a client approaches you with a project, make sure that you have a solid understanding of what is expected of you and how that task is supposed to turn out. Ask questions and be thorough. While this may seem tedious and time consuming initially, it is better long-term. If you fully understand the project at the beginning, then you won’t have to redo or edit the project once you have completed it. Additionally, keep everyone updated on your progress. If something comes up that affects your timeline, make sure to share that with your colleague. Keeping an open dialogue always makes things easier for everyone involved.

Be realistic. Working in an administrative position can mean that many people are approaching you with many different projects. It is important to be honest about what you can complete in a timely fashion. I never want to tell a colleague “no” because I know how hard they work and how busy they are, but I also need to be realistic about what I can complete. If you’re already working on a few time-consuming projects and someone requests that you complete another by the end of the day, it’s time to be honest about what you can do. Make sure you aren’t taking on too much in too short a time-frame.

Work efficiently, but carefully. Getting things done quickly is essential, but completing something carefully is equally as important. Sloppy work not only reflects poorly on you, but also on your colleague or employer. Always make sure to take that extra time to double check your work. This will make you look like a key player in the workplace, making both clients and colleagues trust you.

While I have discovered these tips working as an administrative assistant, they are largely applicable to any type of position. Everyone is balancing busy schedules, so take some time to organize! Utilizing some of these tips in the workplace can help anyone stay organized and efficient while handling multiple tasks at once.

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