Most of us have seen an episode or two, if not every episode of the fast-paced, exciting thriller: 24. I am a huge fan of CTU Agent, Jack Bauer and while most of us just enjoy the thrill of suspense and a heart pounding from not knowing what will happen next, as a Personal Assistent, my senses spots habits of effectiveness I can adopt on my job. The truth is that you really don’t have to be a Personal Assistant to be able to make these work for you. Anyone who hopes to be effective on their jobs and get results can adopt these simple, everyday technics, so here goes:
Planning is everything: Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote once, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything”. The main character Jack Bauer was known for his ability to make elaborate plans, mostly on short notices and think them through to successful executions. He was spontaneous but effective. Sometimes, effectiveness requires the ability to think three, four steps ahead. Anticipate likely or possible disasters before they occur and have an escape route. Chances are, if things suddenly take a different turn from what you anticipated, you wouldn’t be far from a solution.
Timing is also key: a perfect plan is nothing without timely executions. You plan everything down to the detail but lag on the execution; you might as well not have put yourself through the trouble. As a PA I work mostly with top level officials to whom time is of utmost importance; one minor hesitation might make a world of difference. This is usualy evident when when you need to get something done quickly, you understand the importance of speed to the task but the guy at the next office just wants to take his time to complete his tasks according to his own priority. We have all been there at one time and we understand how this messes up the programme; in the end, it’s not your fault but you don’t get results and that’s a red flag. Bottom line, as much as possible, walk with the clock!
Details: little details here and there save you a lot of troubles later. Something as minute as setting a reminder for a task intended for later, if not done can suddenly put you on the spot and make you look bad out there. Pay attention to details and resist the usual plague of getting so used to routine that everything starts to look the same every day. Make sure to beat the urge to get used to routine, check and double check with your mind to it.
Separating your personal problems from work: Sometimes it can be difficult to deal with certain personal issues and still function effectively at work. As did Jack Bauer severally in the movie, most times we need to be able to separate our personal issues from our work. It’s a harsh reality but it is true. Functioning at peak performance rate while dealing with troubles in your personal life is a skill some of us need to learn in order to succeed on our jobs.
Results: well it can be a bit tricky to say you must get results at ALL costs. Even for government agents, “results at all costs” mentality back fires sometimes but the important lesson here is to be result oriented. Always have a plan A, B, C and as many plans as you need to get the job done even if you have to make some sacrifices. Unlike the character in the movie, you do not have to sacrifice your family for results but certain things like a good night’s sleep can be a worthy sacrifice sometimes.
As a Personal Assistant, these skills are vital to the success of my job. I’d like to know how they apply to yours if you would be generous enough to share in the comments section.
Note: this article was adopted from a slightly different version posted on LinkedIn by the same author.