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Top 3 timesaving shortcuts for admins

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April 23, 2012

Contact: Elizabeth Hall, Senior Web Editor 
(800) 543-2055  (703) 905-8000

 Top 3 Timesaving Shortcuts for Admins

Falls Church, Va. — Administrative professionals are busier than ever keeping their executives on track. As a result, time management is a fundamental skill for them to possess. It’s important for admins to develop timesaving shortcuts to help them complete their work more efficiently.

“The trick is, you have to try out certain timesaving tricks to discover whether they match your work style,” says Business Management Daily’s Senior Web Editor Elizabeth Hall. “And then you have to stick with them to gain the benefits.”

Here are three timesaving secrets recommended by administrative professionals:

1. Set up a tickler file to avoid future items falling through the cracks. One admin, Robyn, swears by her tickler file, which organizes paper documents by date (files labeled 1 through 31) and month (files labeled January through December). If the administrative assistant is unexpectedly out of the office, a co-worker can look in the file and determine what needs to be done.

2. Trim the time you spend closing the loop on unfinished work. Admin Genea works in a college office, where it’s difficult to catch faculty in their offices. She has devised two methods for getting faculty to finish paperwork, both of which point to the importance of matching your communication style to your workplace culture. To circulate documents needing signatures, she uses a red folder with a large “Please Sign” label on the front. By using only red folders for that purpose, she communicates without saying a word. To prompt others to return unfinished paperwork, she created reminder notes called “Genea’s Nag Notes” which have a graphic of an old, broken-down horse on it. She gets faster results with a nag note and a little laugh versus email reminders that would likely become lost in the clutter.

3. Batch work into desktop folders. Admin Fran uses batching to streamline daily tasks. She organizes all her copying that needs to be done that day in one folder, filing in another and pending tasks/projects in another. That way, for example, she makes only one trip to the copier in the afternoon, rather than several trips throughout the day.

Walmart CEO Mike Duke relies on his assistant, Paula, to help him track a $408 billion business that spans 8,500-plus stores and employs 2.1 million people. Here are the organizing principles that keep the business running smoothly:

A strict “on time” philosophy. Duke’s schedule is packed. If a meeting is scheduled to end, he’s not above leaving, even if someone is still talking.

No email carryovers at the end of the day. Duke likes to keep his email and voicemail inboxes clear. He reads and deletes, prints or forwards messages to Paula for action.

Preparing in advance for one-on-one meetings. Paula puts eight red folders, one for every direct report, on Duke’s credenza. Each folder has a sticky note with the name of the executive and the time of his or her next meeting. Duke and Paula slide in sales figures, questions or notes that need follow-up.

“The bigger the business, the more details there are—and the more critical it becomes to have strategies in place for tracking them,” Hall says.

For more information and the full article, visit

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