This post was originally published on the IAAP blog and is reprinted here with permission.
Being an administrative assistant is hard work, really hard work. It’s a stressful, chaotic, always-on-call kind of job that can leave even the most seasoned administrative professionals wiped out some days. (As a 25-year veteran of this industry, I can attest to this!)
Our jobs can take their toll, which is why it’s important to take some time away from it all every once in awhile – time away from the office, your inbox and the constantly ringing phone.
However, because administrative professionals are so integral to their executives and companies, taking a vacation can be challenging. Many find it difficult to really get away from all their professional stresses and really unplug from their job. I’m here to tell you that it’s possible – and very necessary for your personal and professional well being!
Last year, I took a vacation for 10 days, and I did (almost) zero work. I barely looked at my email and I avoided professional calls. How did I do it? It was actually easier than you might expect. All I did was follow these five steps:
- Create an administrative procedures binder. I simply cannot preach the importance of procedures enough. Your administrative procedures binder is a step-by-step guide to your job that just about anyone can use to handle your responsibilities while you’re gone. If you don’t already have one, make a point to start working on your procedures binder now. If you already have a binder, make sure it’s up to date and accurate before you leave. Your procedures binder should be able to answer most questions about your job and responsibilities, and eliminate any need for your executive or colleagues to contact you while you’re away. They may not be as efficient at it as you would be, but the job can still get done which is the whole point.
- Recruit help. I have an awesome team that helped take care of things while I was away. If there’s someone who usually fills in for you while you’re out, make sure he or she has everything needed, including that procedures binder, before you depart. If you don’t have someone to fill in, find a handful of good helpers around the office that can help with your responsibilities while you’re away. Regardless of whether it’s one person or a few, make sure your substitute is trustworthy, responsible and capable so you don’t have to fret about work while you’re gone – or come back to a pile of to-dos.
- Plan ahead. Take care of as many tasks, projects and assignments as you possibly can before you leave. I know adding things to your already crammed schedule can be difficult, but try to do a few extra things each day starting a week or two before you leave. This will help clear your plate and not have you scrambling in the days right before your vacation. Better yet, start setting expectations for those you regularly work with 3-4 weeks in advance that you may need their help getting things done sooner, or they may need to be willing to delay some deadlines to assist you with a successful “unplugging” while you are out.
- Automate tasks. Reminders, emails, website posts and social media posts can most likely be scheduled in advance. Take advantage of this technology and automate as many tasks as possible. You can even put the office lights, copy machines, and printers on a timer if it’s your job to turn them on each day.
- Designate an emergency contact method. I had only one emergency work email I needed to respond to while I was away. My team knew that if there was an emergency, and someone absolutely had to reach me, that I would be checking it every few days. Designate your preferred method of contact while you’re away, along with a time that you’ll check it, to the person or people filing in for you. This way if someone needs to get in touch with you, he or she will be able to do so. And you won’t need to stay tethered to your phone, computer or tablet.
Unplugging and really getting away from work will take some time and planning, but it’s vital to your sanity and professional well-being. Time away gives you a chance to recharge your batteries and can even give you a fresh new perspective on your administrative responsibilities. Put these five steps into practice and give yourself the stress-free, office-free, relaxing break you deserve!
© 2014 Julie Perrine International, LLC
Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.