Whew! In the last eight weeks we have covered a lot of ground! In order to keep you up to speed, we are going to take this week to recap what we have learned and open the platform for any questions or comments that you might have. Here are some highlights from the program thus far:
When working in perfect alignment, the relationship between assistant and manager is a powerful one. No obstacle goes unconquered. No need is left unmet. In fact, it can be argued that one could not really exist without the other, at least not as brilliantly.
Life Management is not simply the art of maintaining balance – it is a way of life. While difficult to comprehensively define, in practice – Life Managers are expert jugglers. By standing one physical step behind the executive and five mental steps ahead of everyone, EAs fulfill their role as MVP by helping the VIP achieve his or her visions of personal and professional success.
The success of an EA-manager relationship is a direct reflection of its management: management of communication, management of expectations, and management of workload. The best way to set each other up for success is to outline personal expectations and always adhere to respectful communication. However, the best way to also excel in the EA career path is to realize that you are often better suited to do the managing.
As an EA, here are five key ways in which you can make yourself invaluable to your Manager and create your own lasting impression:
- Listen. Listen to what is being said and to what is not being said. You can learn just as much through your eyes as you can through your ears.
- Be mindful in your actions and reactions. Breathe before responding. Pause to ask yourself – Am I being authentic? Do I know the answer? Should I simply say – I don’t know or let me look into that for you.
- When you don’t know something, it is ok to say “I don’t know.” High-level people can smell authenticity from a mile away and in the end it is what people remember most about you. Craft a powerful legacy.
- Always work harder than you think you can. Your mind is mighty. Don’t let it be a mighty roadblock. Harness it to be a mighty engine.
- If something isn’t working – figure out why and speak up. Bottled up stress leads to resentment which leads to unhappiness which leads to illness. You have one life. Fight for your right to smile through it.
It is much easier to build a harmonious relationship when you lay a solid foundation and use productive communication from the get-go. However, sometimes even with the most respectful of communication on your side, a bond just will not work. So much of an interaction between a Manager and an EA hinges on personality. Just like everything else in life, these two are either compatible or they aren’t.
Tips for Staying Organized
- Choose colors that call to you when delineating between groups.
- Create systems that inspire you and light that creative spark upon which your assisting talent thrives.
- Find ways to turn chores into games.
As an Assistant, you are on call all the time. Middle of the night, middle of the weekend, middle of a date, middle of a vacation – you name it and I’ve probably had to work through it. When in the midst of incessantly running around, sometimes you don’t realize that you’re running on empty. Your mind is so busy working and anticipating that you forget to be present in the present. That mindfulness we talked about, while in the thick of it – it still applies to you and your work, but somehow you stop applying it to you and your life.
- High stress, panicked people get easily irritated which can set a negative tone for the day; slow things down conscientiously.
- Give yourself time to disconnect between the computer and sleep. I close mine an hour before bedtime. Do you really want the computer screen to be the last image in your mind before you fall asleep??
- When possible, integrate weekly therapy sessions – especially when your job requires discretion and you are carrying around a lot of sensitive information.
- Drink enough water.
- Take a short walk, even if it’s just 2 minutes. Breaking up the stress allows your mind and body to take a break and reset.
- Delegate. I am a control freak at heart and had to learn to trust other people but I am so glad I did!
- Be present with your friends. For busy EAs, it can be hard to make time for our important relationships. When you do find the time – be there fully.
- After a particularly stressful day, I make a mint tea and sit with a book. If I can’t focus on it I might turn West Wing on, take a bath or go out with a friend.
Wellness is as much about the mental as it is about the physical. Just as death can result from poor physical health, if we stop tending to our minds, our souls can expire. We find our sense of purpose in the playful moments. If we remove the joy, we remove the purpose. If we remove the purpose we have nothing left.
Imagine how our culture, how our lives, will change when we begin valuing go-givers as much as we value go-getters.” Arianna Huffington, Thrive
This is all the exciting ground we have covered so far! Next week we will be talking about what the future looks like for Life Management. What has been your favorite topic so far? What would you like to see more of? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter! Use #lifemanagers