Jack of all trades: 3 tips to help PAs save their time and sanity
It's Monday morning. There are 94 emails in your inbox. You have four meetings scheduled before 2pm. There’s a conference call later on, you have board report notes to prep and the unenviable task of booking flights and hotels for three C-level executives before the close of the day.
You hug your cup of coffee a little closer than usual.
Personal assistants aren’t what they used to be. Decades ago, the general perception was that PAs were responsible for organising their boss’ diary and making cups of tea. Ever heard the adage ‘Behind every great boss is a great PA?’ No, neither have we. Mainly because PAs are the silent partners, the unspoken heroes that are the backbone of efficient executives.
PAs – the problem solves, fixers and keepers of secrets – are now tasked with a deluge of responsibilities, each one more time-consuming than the last. Booking business travel in particular has now become more challenging than ever in the always-connected corporate world, leading many to turn to business hotel booking platforms to save time.
There are a number of ways PAs can carve out more time from their schedule and save themselves from headaches in the process – here’s three.
1. Put organisation above all else
It should go without saying that organisational skills are the most important quality of a successful PA – and it’s noticeable when they’re missing. You need to develop a system that gives you a handle on every small detail in your boss’ life, otherwise you’ll end up wasting your own time more often than not.
Here’s a story that can show just how stressful a situation can turn out to be when the PA lets one thing slip: One PA travelling to New Zealand with her boss was told upon arrival to board a return first class flight back to London, to pick up a birthday present for the boss’ wife that he had left behind. The PA was given a four-hour turnaround time with which to land, get the present and hop back on a flight to New Zealand.
2. Plan around your limits
Knowing what you can get done in an hour, a day, a week and even a month is one of the most important aspects of great time management. It’s vaulted to an even higher echelon as PAs are most likely to be working under three bosses at once, PA Life magazine found.
We understand: it’s easy to tell you not to bite off more than you can chew when in reality it’s more difficult to say no than it is to say yes. But taking the time to map out how quickly you can deal with common tasks and identifying which ones take more time than usual can give you an excellent base to figure out which responsibilities you can defer and which you can’t.
Realising what you can’t do is perhaps more important than understanding what you’re capable of. When you’re constantly assigned tasks that aren’t within your realm of expertise, it leads to projects that can tax you physically and mentally. Sometimes saying no is the healthiest option.
3. Streamline manual and common tasks
If you’re a PA then we all know how much time you can spend surfing the internet for the best possible deals on everything from restaurants in cities you’ve never heard of to hotels in parts of the world you’ve never been to. In fact, the PA Life magazine survey found that nearly one-fifth of the average PA’s time is spent arranging business travel.
When it comes to booking business travel – which at this point is simply a staple of the job – you don’t need the stress and hassle of searching for hotels, comparing rates, contacting hotels, negotiating deals and making sure that your staff are booking within the company policy. Even thinking about it is a little stressful.
Find ways to streamline these types of repetitive tasks. Roomex for instance is a business hotel booking platform that can significantly cut down the amount of time spent looking for hotels so that the time can be used elsewhere.
The hotel booking platform is specifically designed for business travel. With over 1.2 million registered hotels, the platform displays the best corporate rates in your chosen location. It incorporates the online travel agent element, including useful sites such as Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com and compares your own negotiated corporate rates with Roomex’s own directly negotiated contracts to give you the best possible price. No time is spent negotiating different rates with lots of different hotels; Roomex looks after all that.
Life is busy and being a PA is busier. With Roomex, you can wave goodbye to wasting valuable time searching multiple hotel sites. Instead you can gain all that back to take up the next big challenge – because we both know there’ll always be another one.