Shayanne Wright explains how capturing your tasks in one place allows you to prioritize and work more efficiently

The Centralization Challenge

As an administrative professional, you are the backbone of your company, keeping the day-to-day running smoothly. Yet the nature of your role presents many challenges. When no two days look the same and tasks can come from anywhere, you get forced into a reactive rather than a proactive workflow. You also wear many hats in responding to others’ needs, and the fear of missing something urgent causes you to check your email and messaging platforms way more than you’d like to admit.

Maybe the biggest challenge you face is managing multiple communication channels. Between email, chat, texts and shared calendars, we’ve become more accessible than ever. It can be overwhelming and distracting. Your company probably uses several tools at once, scattering requests in various places and making them hard to manage. It’s not likely you can convince your company to change its communication habits just for you, so you must figure out how to manage tasks from various sources.

Centralization becomes your saving grace when you spend every minute trying to keep all your plates spinning. But what does centralization even mean? For an Assistant, it’s getting every task and request into one place.

Four Benefits of Centralization

1. It saves time by streamlining your workflow

If you’ve ever spent an hour searching multiple platforms for that thing you forgot to write down, you know how time-consuming a lack of centralization can be. Logging into multiple platforms several times a day is not an efficient use of your time. Having one place to go to view all your tasks streamlines your workflow and allows you to be more productive.

2. Important requests don’t slip through the cracks

Even the best, most organized Assistant will surely miss something working in a scattered environment. You may be crossing your fingers and hoping that when it happens to you, it’s not a critical item that jeopardizes the company or your job. That kind of wishful thinking is taking a big gamble. Centralization helps you capture everything in one place so you don’t miss something from one of your many communication channels.

3. It lets you organize and prioritize

Once your tasks are in one place, you can quickly organize and prioritize by importance, due date and other factors. Without centralization, you risk missing a deadline when that sticky note goes missing or placing less important to-dos at the top of your list because you don’t see the whole picture. Centralization also makes it easier to review your tasks in meetings with your executive so they can offer feedback on priorities.

4. It helps you report on your performance

A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study found that 62% of administrative professionals found it difficult to move up or into a new role. Unlike other positions that have data and financials to back up performance, you probably don’t have the tools to measure your success – until now. Centralization allows you to measure your volume of tasks in a given time period so you can report your performance (requests versus completions). You can take it even further and color-code or bucket your tasks to show your executive where you spend your time. Grouping tasks is helpful when you get requests from different departments or you want to view tasks by type (e.g., booking travel, scheduling, major projects, expense reports, events).

How to Centralize

Your goal in centralization is to get all your tasks in one place so that you can prioritize and work more efficiently. To help you get started, let’s look at your options when searching for a solution.

Good

You can manually create a centralized task list, which is a step in the right direction. However, it still requires a lot of time and effort. You must log in to multiple communication channels daily to capture requests. Then you must manually write them down somewhere. You may opt for the old school pen and paper approach or an Excel spreadsheet.

Either way, tallying up stats for performance reporting is cumbersome.

Better

Find a project or task management software that allows you to manually enter or batch upload tasks. There are many options available, each with a different approach. Some have steep learning curves or offer more features than you need because they are designed for teams or projects rather than daily tasks. These will vary in price, with some offering free versions. The benefit of accessing your list from anywhere, on any device, will most likely make the tool worth the price.

Best

Select a task management software that integrates with your existing communication platforms or lets you easily create tasks from them. This kind of platform automates more of the task creation and prioritization process while offering robust reporting so you can throw away your old tracking spreadsheet.

I’ve created the assessment below to help you determine where you are on your centralization journey.

Workflow Assessment Checklist

Give yourself one point for every “a,” 2 points for every “b” and 3 points for every “c.” Add up your total points to see how centralized you are.

Workflow Scorecard

6–9

You’re amazing! You’re probably making your very difficult job look easy, but you need some statistics to prove it.

10–14

You’re a rockstar! With all those requests and communications coming in, you need a solid system to keep track of everything.

15+: Yikes!

You’re handling a lot! Let’s automate some of that work so you can rest easy, knowing that nothing is slipping through the cracks.

Task Management Platforms

A task management platform could supercharge your productivity. Unfortunately, there are not many made for administrative professional roles. That’s why I created Office Otter. OfficeOtter.com can help you prove how much you are doing, with 12+ qualitative and quantitative analytics that automatically track your performance. It can help you funnel all your tasks into one place with text, email, and other integrations and a dedicated inbox feature so you can focus on what matters most. It can also help you organize and prioritize your tasks by urgency or label so you can undertake them in the right order.

I invite you to sign up for a free account with Office Otter and take it for a spin. Once you do, let me know how you like it. You can drop me a note through the website or say hello at ES Tech in September, where I’ll share more about Office Otter and my journey in developing the platform. You can also stop by our virtual booth for a live demo.

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Shayanne Wright is the co-founder and CEO of OfficeOtter.com, a productivity platform designed specifically for administrative professionals. As a graduate of TechStars and Women’s Startup Lab, she is a globally sought-after speaker and mentor to female ... (Read More)

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