As mentioned in Part 1 of Transferrable Skills a lot of the data required in my PA role needed to come from someone else. In my last position, it was usually one of the business analysts or their Managers. One of my favourite parts of the job was when I was given free rein to investigate and report back on a project for my Manager.
As a naturally curious person, I enjoy research. I love digging around and finding interesting facts and bits of information. As a writer this curiously will be come in handy.
The trick I am learning in regards to research is when to stop. If you are using the internet for research, it can be quite addictive (as anyone who has ever used the internet will appreciate). I particularly enjoy bouncing from one blog roll to another seeing what new blogs or websites I can discover. It’s easy to keep digging, to keep looking for that uncovered gem. If you have all the information you need however, you could be simply wasting time. Something a writer cannot afford.
If you are a Manager who relies heavily on a PA and you start your own business or change companies you might find you miss her input. Particularly if the two of you worked well together. You may be surprised at how many tasks your PA did for you that you now need to so yourself. Some of these will be mundane but essential tasks that will eat away at your time. Be prepared for the transition. Look at outsourcing options if this is financially feasible. Maybe a part time assistant would help or you could work with a virtual assistant.
At first I thought organising myself would be a no brainer. After all I spent each day organising my Manager. Telling him what meetings he needed to attend, what priorities he had, advising him of papers he needed to have written and the like.
Now I am doing that for myself. Oddly enough at first it felt a bit strange. Some effective forward planning, scheduling set times in my calendar for tasks, working to tighter deadlines and some wise words of advice from my coach helped immensely and put me at ease at being my own assistant.
Some PA’s do a lot of administration work, some roles are more on the organisational side of things. In rare cases, a senior EA may actually have a PA reporting to her (someone to palm the filing off to – yes!).
Back in the realm where I work, I do all the admin. Invoices, corporate card, minutes, filing (my least favourite) just to name a few. Many of the admin tasks in my former role will be required in my own business.
Keeping detailed records of data used in articles is important, so is keeping records for tax time, so I am going to have to start a love affair with filing. I may have to report back on how I go with that particular project.
What I have heard some PA’s tell people about their bosses would curl their Managers hair (and probably make them want to get a new assistant).
As a personal assistant we are the keeper of secrets. Whether we like and respect our Manager is quite frankly irrelevant. It is part of our job to keep his confidence and not be spreading stories of his personal dramas or work issues around the office.
This at first glance seems at odds with being a writer as writers are tellers of stories. Whether they are fictional or factual.
Despite this there are still boundaries. Whilst writing is not about keeping secrets, knowing what not to write in my blog, manuscript or article could be just as important as knowing what to write.
Over to you!
Look at your own situation – what transferrable skills could you take from your current role into a business or to a job in another field? Even if you are only in the dreaming stage of changing jobs or careers, it can’t hurt to think what skills you already possess.
If you work in a numbers based field such as accounting or finance, maybe you have a creative side of your personality that may help you in your next step up the ladder or move to another company?
I encourage you to add your thoughts to the comments section of this post.