Experts say to cure feeling overwhelmed and stop the mindset moving to procrastination, the “eliminate and delegate” concept should be used.
An elimination of tasks doesn’t seem to me like a possibility for EA’s. Imagine if you decided to set up a meeting and put a time in the diary, eliminating the further information you would need, such as booking a meeting room, inviting attendees, working out if papers were required etc. It seems to me that eliminating things from your already important role, moves them back into your fire fighting tasks, when they are realised they were later. The EA role is already very detailed, and a lot of the attention to detail EA’s have is required in the role.
However, whilst elimination might not be possible for you, try to look for efficiencies in your role. Constantly ask yourself, how could I do this better? You might find that by re-assessing what you do corners can be cut.
I also, don’t believe in delegating… I feel as though an Executive Assistant is already the ‘middle man’ between the Manager and the Staff Member / Stakeholder / Peer. If you put someone else into the equation it can create a lot of confusion about who owns what. I believe that the role of an EA is to present their Manager as professionally as possible (I call this making them look good) and this needs to be owned and managed by the EA.
You can push your Manager to delegate to his Executive Team where possible, so that he can fit everything into his day, discussing when going through his or her daily actions, however – one of his direct reports is you – so this can be a bit of a dangerous game!
So the point is not eliminating or delegating in my opinion, it’s finding the time to fit everything into your day.
You can read more about managing your time and priorities in my other posts Time Management and Learning to Prioritise.
What I will say on delegation, for those who may disagree with my points above, is to remember these tips:
- When delegating, make sure you give an entire overview of the task, how it fits into the business and why it is required. If someone can see why the task needs to be completed, and the importance of it, it will become important to them.
- Understand the person’s communication style. Take the time to find out how the person likes to be approached, or when they respond well. This could mean that they would prefer for you to go through the process verbally, or write up a written procedure, send a written email to go through all that is required and confirm what was discussed, or all of the above!
- It’s also important to show the person how them completing the job will benefit them. Whether it be development, or making their skills visible to other staff.
- Understand what you need from the person t be confident that the job has been handled and will be delivered, and ask the person to provide this requirement.
- Provide the person with plenty of notice to get the job done.
Do you delegate regularly? What do you find works well?