The return to the office often brings a mixed sense of excitement, apprehension and the unknown! If you have been fortunate enough to have a few weeks off, it can take a few days to get back into the swing of things. It is normal, so don’t be too hard on yourself if the cogs are taking a little longer to wind up! Assistants are renowned for their organisational prowess, so what better time to do this than at the start of the year!
Review and reflect: Spend time analysing the previous year and we mean a decent amount of time – not a cursory 10 minutes. Reflection requires digging deeper, pondering and self-awareness. What worked well and what didn’t? Given a lot of these items might sit within your responsibility, what could you have done differently and better? For those items that didn’t sit directly within your realm of responsibility, what part did you play that could have changed the outcome for the better? What can you do to pre-empt them happening again? Predicting pitfalls now, allows time to proactively mitigate negative impacts and stress further down the line.
Upskill:The business environment is rapidly evolving at a pace we have never witnessed before. For all employees, this means being relevant and current with skills. This is especially so for Assistants and using technology better. January is an opportune time to upskill on the ‘quick wins’, skills or knowledge acquisition – it might mean researching, subscribing, or reading about a particular industry, innovation, new development, or an online skills course. Whatever is relevant to your boss and the organisation you work for. January is equally a great time to map ahead of time courses, conferences, and any other longer-term learning projects, for yourself and the greater team. Otherwise, the year slips by and other priorities take over!
School holidays:This may not directly affect you, or your Executives. Even if it doesn’t you can be sure some of your clients, colleagues, or even suppliers will be impacted. Adding all the relevant dates to your diary will assist for better scheduling. If your organisation is global or you deal internationally, be across those holidays as well. For example, booking a board meeting, or another large gathering in the middle of school holidays, might see a lower attendance. Of course, plan the same for all public holidays as well.
Board Meetings: These are usually mapped out well in advance and it is likely you already know when the next one is. If not here is your reminder! Once you have the key dates, work back, diarising when to send the invitations, agendas, follow ups etc. This helps the process to be seamless, everyone knowing where they need to be and what they need. Don’t forget to add time the day after for writing up minutes, distributing action points and conducting any other follow up activities. Board meetings are events that rarely move once scheduled, they do however often change location, especially in larger businesses. Meticulous travel, logistics and even dietary planning is required for each event.
Annual leave: Whilst everyone requests their leave at different times, it is worth asking your Executives and other key people when they hope to take their annual leave. They could have had discussions over the Christmas break, and this helps to plan for everyone. Pencilling in early helps with scheduling throughout the year. Don’t forget to put your own annual leave in too!! You might need to sort your own cover, something else worth thinking about well in advance of your leave dates. This might mean updating handover manuals- another poignant January task for you and all administrative employees in the organisation!
Key Dates:At the start of the year, check that all the recurring dates from the previous year have been transitioned across, including any regular payments or invoices that should automatically roll over? If your office celebrates staff birthdays and anniversaries, are they all diarised, including any new staff members? If your business has annual performance reviews, these along with the correct dates for sending relevant paperwork or reminders need to be added. Do you have annual contracts that need attention at certain dates, likes leases etc- allow ample time for reviewing. Finally, look at any personal items for your boss; family birthdays or major events, recurring medical appointments, car services, insurance renewals or any regular events for children.
Whilst there is always more planning, we hope these pointers help you assist you in kick starting a successful 2024 – good luck!
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