Extreme Assistant and Your First Year

February 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

This is the toughest year for you and your employer. This is because if good files were not left for you, you are re-creating the wheel as far as getting to know the preferences of your new employer.  But no problem (right?) for the fearless extreme assistant that you are!

As with any new job, there is a lot to get to know. But for a personal assistant there are many foundational lists to be made: who do they give gifts to regularly; where do they like to eat; travel preferences; food preferences; medical issues and allergies, best friends, holiday gift lists, holiday card lists; habits and routines; etc.  There are other lists of vendors they prefer to use as well. If you are lucky enough to have those lists readily available and currently updated, lucky you. However, those I have followed enjoyed shredding those lists, no, torching them all the while dancing around the fire like they were at the Burning Man Festival.

What do you do? I have a small list of important forms I fill out on each category for every new client I get now. Sometimes they will happily fill it out, sometimes you have to sneak in questions and ask for five minutes a day for the first month or so, (as long as their patience holds out). More than likely you will learn from assimilation and observation. But it will really pay off in year two!

The other bit of good news is usually the first couple of months you’re really in the bonding year, the honeymoon period, if you will. You can make mistakes that are easily forgiven and your new employer and their existing team will do more to assist you! If you are honest with your need to understand and take notes so you don’t have to repeat the questions, soon you’ll know the routines and preferences like your own. Your Sylvia Brown mind-reading gene will kick in and, if the match is right, you’ll be on your way to a successful future together and live happily every after.


Tools for the Personal Assistant

February 4, 2012 § 1 Comment

Whenever I picture other personal assistants, I see someone on the go, focused, and handling multiple chores at one time and switching into those roles without missing a beat. I often thought it would be funny to have a shelf in my office with different hats on the shelf. As the next request came up, I would say, “Hold on,” take off one hat and put on the next, “okay, speak,” and on and on it would go as I systematically put on five or more hats within a three-minute conversation. When you’re the go-to person, you are handling such a variety of situations in one household, you could easily wear ten hats or more in one hour or one day: accountant, secretary, data processor, pharmacist, construction manager, shopper, employer, staff manager, sales manager, publicist, manager, psychiatrist, nanny, pet sitter, organizer, party planner…well, you get the picture.

On crazy busy days here’s the hat I wear the most.

And here are the tools I must always have on hand to do my job effectively:

Paper and pen
Cell phone (preferably an android type)
Laptop computer
A good bottle of wine
A good night’s sleep
A good man
(okay, you can omit the last two…maybe)

There are just some of the organizational systems and forms I have developed which are my lifelines:

Employer information list system
Weekly/Monthly/Annual house maintenance system
Filing system (business and personal)
Medical insurance billing system
Staff scheduling/hiring/firing system
Petty cash system
Accounting / bill pay system
Order taking, fulfillment and shipping system
Call sheets and end-of-day update forms
On-going grocery lists
Hot Sheet of important telephone numbers
Holiday Gift/Card Lists
Monthly Birthday Lists
Legal forms

Clearly the job of personal assistant is one that encompasses many and you’d be smart to sneak some of your employers Xanax pills every once in a while! (Just kidding, I don’t know anyone who takes that???) This is the one constant with every employer I’ve ever had-not the Xanax but wearing many hats part. With your demonstrated competency the job usually morphs into as many areas that you can handle so remember, at some point to re-assess and request a runner or a 2nd assistant to help with the more routine tasks and allow yourself the tools, systems and forms to help you do it easier. Remember to be humble and know you can’t do it all and still do it well without the help and cooperation of co-workers and systems.



P.S. Don’t take credit for the help you get.  Support rocks!

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