Confessions of a very untraditional PA!

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OK, so confession time… I have been a PA / EA now for around 12 years now which makes me feel a bit old but i’m not too old… 33 actually in case you wanted to know. Anyway, I digress. I have worked in many different industries and for men and woman (men are far easier to work with in my opinion) & I have never had any real complaints about my work and PA skills. But, sometimes, well a lot of the time, I do feel like a bit of charlatan… the reasons why are below, WARNING: if you are a very ‘Traditional’ by the book, prim and proper career PA, then please do not read on, as you are likely to have a panic attack! You have been warned.

So, this is how I work as a PA:

  • I don’t file anything… Not a thing, I don’t file paperwork or e-mails. I currently have 5,914 e-mails in my inbox and that is where they will stay, until I got forced into archiving, but I find it easier to work this way, I can find things much easier. If I file, I would forget where and what folder it was in etc… This works for me.
  • My desk is a total mess… paper piled up, not in any order, bosses old expenses in an envelope in that pile along with invoices that I need to sort, contracts that I have signed, it all just sits there, because I know that, that messy pile has everything I need and I just pick it up and go through it when I need to find something. I have post it notes dotted about all over, reminding me of things to do also, they are in pretty colours by the way, pink, purple etc.. not dull yellow!
  • I never write ‘To do Lists’ I can’t think of anything more dull than writing down all the things you need to do., I prefer to use my memory and just get on and do them one by one. Yes I set reminders in my outlook calendar sometimes if I think there is a bit too much to remember but I luckily have a great memory and so I don’t forget much. A To-Do list would stress me out by just looking at it.
  • The way I work with my e-mails on Outlook is this —> I have about 20 e-mails all open at the bottom of my outlook and then I close them once I have finished with that task, this then reminds me of what I need to do, so I suppose that is my to do list! (Any PA’s freaking out yet?!) 
  • I don’t make tea or coffee for my boss, bad PA I know… but he can make it himself, he never makes me tea or coffee so why should I. I am his PA not his minion! & yes of course I make it for his customer meetings, but I wouldn’t offer if he is sitting at his desk, unless I was making it for everyone.
  • I have never and will never suck up to my boss, or act any differently to who I am, to please him.My motto is always: Stay true to yourself, you can’t go wrong with this in my opinion.
  • I can never just do one job at a time and focus on it. I usually am doing about 4 different things at once, I know that is probably standard for a lot of PA’s but it is how I prefer to work. I get easily distracted.
  • I don’t colour code my calendar or do follow up flags on my e-mails either.
  • I talk a lot and laugh loudly and I swear…I would not be suited to very quiet corporate offices, but luckily I have always worked in fun laid back environments.
  • I don’t deal with structure and authority very well at all. I like flexibility and I have been fortunate enough to never have strict hours at work, so I can come and go when I please (within reason of course!) and work from home once or twice a week or when is needed, which is perfect for me. I don’t like to be chained to a desk and to be bossed about. Again, I am lucky to have a boss who says ‘sorry’, before asking me to do anything’ which I find quite funny! Maybe he is scared of me… ? Just to note: I am not scary at all!!

But…. having said all of the above, I think I am a great PA (you have to blow your own trumpet!) and… I have never been told otherwise & have always had great jobs and feedback from my bosses, so I say, whatever works for you. I know some would freak out with my way of working, but this is what helps me and I doubt I will change my ways now, well I know I won’t, I enjoy being in my organised chaos. I will never be a neat and tidy, prim and proper PA and I don’t think that is a bad thing, it has worked for me so far just fine and as the saying goes,  ‘If it ain’t broke…’

Oh and If my boss happens to be reading this… don’t panic, I know where your expenses are and they will be done on time…honest ;o) 

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6 months on…

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…Well I am still in my new job & guess what? I actually love it. Yes there are times that I want to pull my hair out & scream, but the majority of the time, I really enjoy it. I thought the picture was quite fitting, as this is how I feel, like I am juggling everything all at once, but still having a smile on my face, helping anyone that asks.( I also look a bit like her if I get caught in the rain!!)  My ‘official’ title at work is EA to the CEO. But really it should be ‘ Assistant to anyone and everyone that asks’ As I work for a small start up and it is all hands on deck and everyone mucks in. So I do feel like I am the go to person for literally everything. You name it, they ask me. Here are some good examples of what I get:

  • Do you know when the lift will be working?
  • Do you have any AAA batteries?
  • Do we have any pink Nespresso capsules
  • Can you order us some breakfast from Pret
  • Can you get some keys cut
  • Do you have a fan heater

You see, you name it, I get it. I am more like an office manager / skivvy ;o) I don’t mind it though, I actually like helping everyone out and I am lucky that the CEO is more like a friend and not demanding in the slightest, which means he isn’t precious about me helping others as well as him.

I also feel like this job was meant for me, as the CEO called me asking if I was available and weirdly enough I was. I was feeling a little lost job wise as well, after having quite an horrendous experience with a female boss in the previous job, I felt like I would never get the ‘right’ job again. So I do feel lucky that he remembered me and offered me the role without even an interview. I do believe in fate and I feel this job was fated. I am back in the industry I know & love, with a lovely boss.

The team I work with are great also, which makes a huge difference too. As you have to see them most days, so you have to get on on with them. Bar one or two ‘annoying’ ones. Everyone is lovely. I just try to ignore the annoying ones as much as possible. There is always one or two everywhere you go isn’t there?

I have to be honest though, I did think I would get fed up with the nearly 1.5 hour commute there and back every day, but, I think because I love the actual job, the commute doesn’t feel so bad. I always get a seat and love listening to my music and reading my kindle, it is my time to chill and wake up before another manic day starts in the office. As I don’t get a minutes peace there! Don’t get me wrong though, there are days that I ask myself ‘why am I doing this to myself’ But they are rare thankfully. But this is when my trains have been delayed or I have had to deal with rude commuters, which I have come to realise, there are quite a few of them & mostly are men!! Unfortunately there are very few ‘Gentleman’ that travel into London, not that I have seen anyway. They literally push you out the way for a seat! I have to just laugh it off otherwise my mouth would get me into trouble… Thank goodness for soothing music in my ears! ;o)

So, I can’t believe 6 months have gone by already since I told you I was starting this job. The time has literally flown and I see that as a good thing. I just hope, when I update you again in another 6 months, I will still be able to say positive things!

Fingers and everything crossed!!

So, for anyone that is job hunting, or in job they don’t like right now. I am proof that, you can find something you love, don’t give up. or settle for something that is ‘OK’ keep looking and searching and the right job will find you. Trust those instincts of yours, they are never wrong!

Don’t get me wrong. My very ideal job is working for myself and writing a novel. but… until I have time to work on that… this job keeps me happy enough for the time being and for now that will do! :o)

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