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Executive Assistant

How to Increase Workplace Resilience

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For many people in C-level support, work is a major source of stress. Like numerous other jobs in today’s world, jobs in executive support are fast-paced and exacting. Many employees experience burnout at some point in their career. While there is little you can do to make your work environment less demanding, there are ways you can improve your ability to endure stress and resist burnout. Below are some tips to increase workplace resilience.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that involves training yourself to be more aware of your emotions and state of mind in the present moment. Mindfulness tools promote workplace resilience by facilitating stress management and improving mental health. Spending a lot of time planning for future tasks or obsessing over past mistakes is mentally exhausting. By focusing on the present, you become more engaged and more resistant to negative, toxic thoughts.

Work-Life Balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance will also help you become more resilient in the workplace. Technology has made it harder for most people to create boundaries between their work life and home life. In the past, once you left the office you were done. Now most people continue to do work-related tasks on their computer or smartphone, such as answering work emails, after they leave for the day. While it might not be possible to keep your personal and work lives separate, it is still important to allow yourself some regular time to relax and recharge. Doing so will help decrease stress and improve productivity.

Practice Reflection

Although it usually isn’t healthy to dwell on the past, reflection is an important way to develop strong emotional intelligence. The goal should be to think about emotional reactions you have had in the past to better understand what situations provoke stress, anxiety, or other strong emotional reactions. Fostering emotional intelligence will enable you become less reactive in general, and also help you avoid certain triggers that will likely cause you stress. In addition, if you know what triggers negative emotional reactions in you, you can develop coping mechanisms that will allow you to recover more quickly in instances when triggers are unable to be avoided.

Stress has become a natural part of work for most people. You might not be able to control your workload or the pace of the work environment, but you can control how you react to stress. Practicing mindfulness techniques, nurturing a healthy work-life balance, and taking steps to improve your emotional intelligence can allow you to become more resilient to stress in the workplace.

 

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4 Ways to Improve Your Email Etiquette

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Email etiquette can have a major impact on workplace communication. When colleagues and clients read emails you send, they make assumptions about your professionalism, trustworthiness, competence, and more. These tips to improve your email etiquette will help you maintain a solid reputation within the C-suite while improving your communication skills.

1. Avoid Being Too Personal or Casual

Even if you are friendly with the people you work with, it is important to remember you are representing your organization when you send emails. Keep your communication professional and formal. For example, avoid discussing your personal life and overusing exclamation marks and emoticons. Also avoid using too much industry jargon, slang, and of course don’t use curse words.

2. Keep Emails Brief

Few people enjoy reading long emails. In general, emails should not be longer than 3 short paragraphs. Recipients will start to lose focus after that. If you have more to say than can be contained in a brief email, it is usually better to have the conversation in-person or over the phone. It also helps to read through the email before you send it. Are there sentences that aren’t necessary? Do you wait too long to reach the main point of the message?

3. Tell Recipients Who You Are

Unless you’re emailing someone that you work with daily, it is a good idea to introduce yourself at the start of an email message. It doesn’t need to be long. Just provide a short sentence giving your name and role. We often figure that if we met someone before, they know who we are. But in the professional world, it is easy to forget a name if you meet new people regularly.

4. Proofread Emails

Grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors are some of the fastest ways to lose credibility with your recipients. We have gotten used to relying on tools like spellcheck and autocorrect. While these tools are helpful, they are imperfect. Make sure you carefully review email messages before you click send to check that they are free of errors. It might take an extra minute or two, but it is better than having to explain confusing or embarrassing typos.

The etiquette you use when you write and send emails can say a lot about who you are as a professional. It’s important for your colleagues, managers, and clients to view you as organized, credible, and well-spoken. You can improve your email etiquette by practicing writing in a professional tone, keeping messages brief and to-the-point, introducing yourself to email recipients, and proofreading all of your messages before they go out.

 

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Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

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Emotional intelligence is one of the most beneficial skills you can have as a professional in C-level support. Emotional intelligence improves self-awareness, allows you to communicate with clarity, and helps to control your emotions in challenging situations. In addition, emotional intelligence can improve your ability to collaborate and regulate stress. Here are some steps that you can take right now to strengthen your emotional intelligence.

Active Listening

Many people listen without fully processing what the other person is saying. You can foster emotional intelligence by listening carefully when others speak and making sure you clearly understand them before responding. Listening also involves observing nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions and gestures. Active listening can improve empathy and reduce misunderstandings in the workplace.

Self-Awareness

Emotional awareness is a critical component of emotional intelligence. One way you can improve emotional intelligence is to regularly ask yourself how you feel in a given moment. As you become more self-aware, you gain a better understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. Over time, you will learn what activities trigger happiness and which ones fill you with dread. You’ll also become aware of what stressors you should try to avoid. Likewise, you will gain insight into what types of people relax you and what personality types bring you down.

Attitudes and Habits

As you become more self-aware, you can start to cultivate a positive attitude as a habit. There are steps you can take to improve your mood, such as eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining a regular sleep pattern, which in turn will help improve emotional intelligence. When you practice keeping a positive perspective, you will work better with others, maintain focus easier, and improve your overall motivation. Other activities such as meditation can also improve your daily mood.

Responding Instead of Reacting

Reacting to triggers is a habit that can cause a lot of tension and stress. It is important to monitor how you react to things like requests and constructive feedback. Instead of reacting impulsively, practice receiving information, taking a deep breath, and responding without emotion. For example, if someone gives you negative feedback, instead of becoming angry, receive their criticism with an open mind and thank the person for taking the time to help you improve.

In C-level support, improving emotional intelligence can make you a healthier, more productive professional. You can begin to foster emotional intelligence by practicing active listening, learning to self-reflect, making positivity a habit, and responding thoughtfully.

 

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Stronger Than Yesterday

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Resilience. It’s one of the secrets to survival, both professionally and personally. It’s what’s gotten you to where you are, and it’s what will help define who you will become. Looking back at some of the toughest situations you’ve endured, you may have felt there was no other choice. It was a natural instinct. And while it’s true that resilience can come innately, it’s also a learned skill. Instead of leaving resilience up to chance, consider strengthening those muscles by choice. How can we lead a more resilient life, and lead a more resilient team, in the year to come?

A Core of Confidence

Everyone has an inner critic. Who do you compare yourself to, and why? Although comparison can create competition, which in turn can fuel achievement, it’s a balancing act. While constructive criticism can deter certain behaviors in the short-term, positive reinforcement is generally better for shaping new and lasting behavior. It’s also at the core of creating confidence.

As a leader, recognize that criticism doesn’t increase competency. You are simply sharing what not to do, instead of what to do. Imagine a child learning how to ride a bicycle. Which environment shapes a more confident future cyclist: pointing out each time they fell down, or pointing out what they did to stay up?

Confidence increases productivity and causes you to choose more challenging tasks, which makes you stand out amongst your peers. You naturally create a more cohesive workplace environment; confident people celebrate the accomplishments of others as opposed to insecure individuals who try to steal the spotlight and criticize others in order to prove their worth. Speaking first and often (a sign of high self-esteem) makes others perceive you as a leader. In fact, over-confident people are more likely to be promoted than those who have actually accomplished more.

A Fondness for Failure

Consider failures as beginnings, rather than endings. You’ve probably learned more from failures than any other source of wisdom. Teach yourself, and your team, to focus on the data and facts. Embrace failure’s value as a teacher, get curious about the information it provides, and be open to where it leads you next. You may even find you fail less when you don’t fear it.

Failure is either redirecting or reaffirming. If failure caused you to take a different path, it’s because you saw it heading towards a dead-end. If failure caused you to get back up and keep going, it reaffirms you are committed to a goal and it’s worth fighting for.

The Power of Purpose

We have the freedom to choose our actions, our profession, our financial needs, and the path of our life. Each day is not about what we have to do. It’s about what we get to do. Strength can come from the recognition that there is a bigger purpose, a desire to make a difference, and a need to have a higher meaning behind the choices we make.

Spend time focusing on this for yourself personally, and with those you lead. Some points to ponder:

  • Who in my life do I care to impact the most? How specifically am I going to mentor and impact those individuals?
  • What are five things I would put on my bucket list, and with whom would I want to experience them?
  • What experiences am I most appreciative of in my life? How can I help others have that same experience?
  • What moment in your life are you most proud of? How can you duplicate more of those moments?
  • What, and who, am I thankful for today?

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Steps for Success

Teach the importance of:

  • Taking a deep breath.
  • Taking another.
  • Focusing on the next thing that needs to be done in order to keep going.

If you wake up suffocated by the list of things that need to get accomplished today, start with getting up and brushing your teeth. When you feel anxiety over an important deadline, make a list of things that need to be done and do just one of them. If your email inbox is exhausting, unsubscribe to a few distribution lists that you never signed up for. Stop longingly looking at pictures of other people’s photos on social media, and spend that time scrolling through your own pictures and cherished memories instead. Don’t focus on the big things. Start with the littlest and decide where to go from there. Take an action, any action. Manufacture your own momentum.

Have an appreciation for your history. What are some of the toughest things you’ve experienced? How did you get through them? You probably already know quite a bit about being resilient but haven’t stopped to admire it.

Remember: you’ve got this. The person who has gotten you through the toughest parts of your life is you.

 

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How to Set and Achieve Your Goals in the New Year

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With all of the challenges of the past year, it seems that most of us are looking forward to turning over a new leaf in 2021. Now is the time to start thinking about what you want to accomplish in 2021. January is full of promise and opportunities as we all look to having a fresh start. Below are some tips to set and achieve your goals in the new year.

Think Carefully about Your New Year’s Resolutions

The first step is deciding what your goals for the year will be. The key is to be optimistic but not overly ambitious. If you choose a goal that requires more effort than you can or are willing to exert, you are setting yourself for certain failure. Choose a goal that is important and meaningful, otherwise you will struggle to find the motivation needed to progress towards its completion. If you have a difficult time coming up with a reasonable plan that will allow you to accomplish your goal, it may not be the right intention. The goal should be specific, realistic, and measurable.

Prioritize Your Resolutions

While many people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions because they choose unrealistic goals, others fail because they pick too many resolutions to manage. It is easier to accomplish goals if you concentrate on one goal at a time. When goal setting, think about what goal you have for yourself that means the most to you. It also helps to separate your larger, long-term goals into smaller goals. This can help ensure your plan doesn’t feel overwhelming.

Plan Ahead for Obstacles

Many people experience setbacks early on as they work towards their New Year’s resolutions, which cause them to become discouraged and give up. No matter who you are or what your goals are, you’re likely to encounter obstacles as you work to accomplish them. This is part of the process. Maintain a positive attitude when you experience setbacks and remind yourself that you can still achieve your goals in spite of hurdles. It also helps to predict what obstacles might occur so you can avoid them or have more time to prepare yourself to overcome them.

While New Year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to achieve, that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of 2021 and accomplish your career goals for the year. As long as you choose goals that mean something to you, approach resolutions realistically, focus on one goal at a time, and plan ahead for setbacks, you can achieve your goals for the year.

 

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Why Having a Mentor Is Important

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A mentor can be an invaluable source of knowledge and guidance, but finding the right mentor isn’t always easy, especially if your career is just starting out. Here are some of the top reasons having a good mentor is important, as well as some tips on how to find one.

Mentors Speed up the Learning Process

One of the biggest advantages of having a mentor is that it improves your ability to learn new skills and retain more knowledge. A good mentor will already have been in your position, so they are excellent source of knowledge. They may also have tips on how to learn necessary skills faster. A mentor can point out your blind spots and identify areas where you need to improve, which can also speed up the learning process.

Mentors Keep You More Engaged

A good mentor will be a source of support. Mentors can assist you in goal setting and provide you with the kind of encouragement you need to stay motivated. If you feel alone, you are more likely to give up or become disengaged. Mentors can keep you more focused and give you the inspiration and guidance you need to develop your skills and progress toward your career goals.

Identify Career Objectives

If you want to find the right mentor, first you have to understand what your long-term and short-term goals are. Once you know what you want your career to look like in the future, you can start to look for professionals who have experiences you can benefit from. The best goals are clear and specific. Set goals that are easily measurable and think about the goals you have for your mentorship. What knowledge do you seek to attain and what new skills do you wish to develop? These types of questions can allow you to effectively narrow down candidates for your mentor.

Look for Someone Who Thinks Differently Than You

The best mentors aren’t necessarily people who have similar personalities as you, or even do work that is similar to yours. In some cases, you might find a mentor who works in another department. Mentors who think differently than you can challenge you and help you expand your learning and communication styles. A mentor should push you outside of your comfort zone.

Finding the perfect mentor can fast-track your career in C-level support and allow you to grow professionally in ways you wouldn’t expect. They key is to understand what you want your mentor-mentee relationship to accomplish and connect with a mentor who will provide you with support and encouragement, while also challenging you.

 

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4 Tips to Beat the Procrastination Habit

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Procrastination is one of the worst habits you can have as an executive support professional, but it is also one of the most common. Though everyone does it to some degree, procrastination negatively affects focus, productivity, and performance. These four tips will help you overcome procrastination and become more efficient.

1. Understand Why You Procrastinate

If you want to beat your procrastination habit, first you have to understand why you tend to procrastinate in the first place. Start by thinking about what tasks you are most likely to avoid. Do you avoid tasks you find difficult or are you more likely to avoid tasks you find uninteresting? Do you avoid tasks when you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious? Some people also procrastinate out of indecision. Once you understand why you procrastinate, you can start addressing the root of the problem.

2. Identify and Eliminate Distractions

Having a lot of distractions nearby can make procrastination much more tempting. What are your top distractions? Do you procrastinate by checking non-urgent emails? Do you play around on your phone or chat with colleagues? Once you identify major distractions, you can start to eliminate them. If you have trouble focusing when there are other people around you, for example, you can reduce the temptation to procrastinate by finding a quiet workspace away from others.

3. Be Realistic About Your Goals

One reason people procrastinate is because they feel overwhelmed by a task. This often occurs when a person has too much on their plate. Being realistic about goals and deadlines can make tasks more manageable and eliminate the feeling that you have to procrastinate to cope. You can make to-do lists and goals more attainable by prioritizing tasks by urgency and breaking large projects into smaller tasks.

4. Keep Yourself Accountable

To overcome procrastination, you also need to keep yourself accountable. One way to do this is to choose someone at work whom you trust to monitor your progress. Encourage your friends at work to call you out if they see you losing focus or putting off important tasks. Another way to keep yourself accountable to your goals related to procrastination is to give yourself rewards for accomplishing major tasks and projects on time.

Most people don’t procrastinate because they’re unorganized or lazy. Most procrastinators are hard workers who avoid tasks when they’re stressed or overwhelmed at work. Anyone can overcome this habit if they put their mind to it. The key is to figure out why you procrastinate in the first place, eliminate triggers, and reward better behavior.

 

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How to Foster a Growth Mindset for Professional Success

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Success in C-level support is often determined by mindset. Professionals who believe in their own potential are more likely to progress in their career than professionals who doubt themselves or believe they aren’t capable of becoming better. The following tips will help you foster a growth mindset.

Practice Self-Reflection

In order to develop a growth mindset, it’s important to know who you are. Begin to understand as much as you can about your skills, talents, and challenges. This will give you a clearer idea of what areas can be improved upon and what talents are being underutilized in your current job that can still be tapped later. Self-reflection helps you gain insight into who you are and what you can become.

Embrace Your Ability to Change

It is common for people to believe that things like intelligence and personality are set it stone. In reality, most aspects of who you are can change if you put your mind to it. If you think your intelligence and capability are static, your focus is on proving your worth instead of on personal growth. Most qualities that define you are really just a starting point. By pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, gaining new experiences, and expanding your knowledge, you can change many aspects of yourself, including your personality, aptitude, and skillset.

Challenge Yourself

One of the main reasons people fail to grow in their professional life is from not challenging themselves enough. When you do the same kind of tasks every day, you become comfortable with the status quo. However, when you embrace new challenges, you often discover new talents you didn’t know you had. By taking on tasks that are outside your comfort zone, you also put yourself in situations that provide opportunities to learn.

Choose Feedback over Praise

Many professionals seek out praise in their work. While praise isn’t inherently bad, it can be an obstacle to growth. When you seek out praise, the tendency is to take on responsibilities with which you know you can excel and lean heavily into the talents you already have. However, it’s unlikely you will get smarter and more skilled by playing it safe. To grow, it’s essential to perform tasks you know will require effort on your part or even tasks that can lead you to instances of failure. Be open-minded about failure and seek out feedback. This is the only way to learn new skills and expand your capabilities.

When you cultivate a growth mindset, you have the ability to continuously gain new talents, improve your intelligence, and become a more valuable employee. To shift toward a growth mindset, you have to learn about your strengths and weaknesses, come to terms with your potential, challenge yourself every chance you get and embrace failure.

 

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Tips to Stay Organized Even When You are Busier Than Ever

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Do you have trouble staying organized? You’re not the only one. Executive Assistants, Chiefs of Staff, and Office Managers have busy schedules, and the work can often become overwhelming. These tips will help you stay organized even when you are your busiest.

Keep Things Minimal

Whether it’s your desk or your email inboxes, cleaning is always harder if you have a lot of stuff. When it comes to emails, delete those you know you don’t need and archive those you aren’t sure about. Decluttering your desk can also make your work feel much more manageable. It’s important to discard mail, documents, and other paperwork you don’t need before it piles up and becomes overwhelming. Having a shredder nearby can make this task easier since you will have a secure way to get rid of paperwork you no longer need.

Create an Organized System for Notes and Lists

Having sticky notes and random lists all over your office makes it hard to keep track of important reminders. It is a good idea to explore digital options such as G-Suite so you can keep all your notes and lists in one place that is easily accessible. If you prefer paper, try using folders or sleeved organizers. They are easier to keep organized than stacks or bulletin boards.

Prioritize Tasks

Making lists of the task you need to complete can help you stay more organized. However, you should consider how important each task is. Lists aren’t useful if they are too ambitious. Consider what tasks you can delegate to other people and what tasks aren’t worth doing at all. In some cases, you may have a task that stays on your list week after week. Maybe it’s more of a long-term goal than a task. If it becomes clear that it’s a task you’re never going to accomplish, remove it from your to-do list.

Schedule Time for Cleaning

If you schedule time for cleaning on your calendar, you are more likely to get it done. If you devote a half hour each week to cleaning your office, you can prevent the space from ever becoming so disorderly it feels unmanageable. You might also want to schedule a day each month for a larger clean out. Time spent organizing isn’t wasted time because it will allow you work more efficiently, saving you time in the long run.

Organization is a critical skill for professionals in C-Level support, though it can seem impossible to stay organized if your schedule is always jam packed. You can improve your organization by prioritizing tasks, scheduling time for cleaning on your calendar, moving towards a paperless system, and keeping your work environment minimal.

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How to Know When it’s Time to Move On

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It isn’t always easy to know if you should stay in the job you have or look for a new opportunity. There are many factors to consider, including compensation, job satisfaction, mental health, and potential for career advancement. Below are ways to know when it’s time to move on.

You Are Unhappy

The simplest way to assess if a job is right for you is to reflect on your emotional state. If you wake up every morning dreading the workday ahead of you, it doesn’t matter how much money you’re making. Your health isn’t worth risking for a job. Working in a toxic environment that makes you miserable can also have negative effects on your personal life. For long term success, it’s important to have a job that you enjoy and gives you a sense of purpose.

The Company Isn’t Going in a Good Direction

Another thing to consider is the state of the company you work for. Have there been a lot of changes to the staff? Maybe there has been some negative media coverage in recent months, or you have noticed the organization has started to cut corners. You can’t always tell if a company is headed for a merger, acquisition, or bankruptcy, but if the signs of growth aren’t there, it’s time to consider moving on. You want to work for a company that has clear signs of success and growth.

You’re Not Advancing

Do you feel like you aren’t learning any new skills or the work you perform is no longer a challenge? Have you stopped getting raises or doubt whether you will receive a promotion in the future? If you don’t feel like there is room for you to advance in the organization, you’re probably not in the right position. It is especially worrisome if your managers seem distant towards you. Don’t want to wait to be fired or for your job to become obsolete to start looking for a new role.

You Don’t Feel Useful

Companies sometimes hire for a role they don’t clearly understand. They believe a role involves certain skills or tasks, but the reality of the job may look much different than their expectations. This is because managers don’t necessary get to observe the day-to-day job of their employees. If you enter a job expecting to be able to use certain skills only to find that none of those skills are actually being applied, you might want to move on and find a job that is a better fit for you.

Professionals are often reluctant to move on from a job because they worry about money or job security. However, sometimes moving on is your best option. If your work makes you miserable, the work becomes boring, or you feel like you aren’t learning new skills or using those you have, it’s probably time to start looking for your next opportunity.

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