How to be a PA Productivity Pro with Cpl Office Support

How to be a PA Productivity Pro, by Kristin Keogh, Cpl Office Support

BPFJ -Office Support NEW transparent

Within our Office Support recruitment team, I specialise in recruiting for PA/EA’s and know these roles inside out. Having worked as a personal assistant myself in the past, it makes my job a little to know what skills are needed and spot a good EA during the hiring process.

One of the main skills a good PA or EA needs is excellent time management and productivity, in order to get the job done. Although ideally, most roles are 9-5, a personal assistant often requires flexibility and to go above and beyond to get the work done. 

If you manage your time wisely and be more productive will help you obtain a much better work life balance and enjoy your role.

Some tips below that may help you with this.



Business woman writing on post-it notesAs a PA you will often be juggling multiple Executives and responsibilities at a time, this can make it difficult to prioritise. What you need is to have a good understanding of what is important in your company. 

Being aware of this will help guide you on the urgency of each task given. For example, things that will need to be completed asap to avoid any repercussions or that may have a negative impact on any Executive. 

Sometimes you may need to make that judgement call but if the important duties are building up and this is becoming different don’t be afraid to let your Executive know. Not everything will be as urgent as they maybe have initially implied.

Plan ahead

If you have a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meeting or event, a lot of the time the content or structure will be the same. If this applies to your role, planning ahead will limit the time that will be required for the following meeting.

This may sound like common sense, but you would be surprised at how being extremely organised in advance will take some of the pressure off when the next event occurs.

Business woman pointing at white board in office

Communication is key

This is a huge part of being productive. If you don’t speak up when things are beginning to get on top of you, no one will be any wiser and everything will be expected to go smoothly. We all know that when you are stressed and overwhelmed this is when disasters can happen.

While mistakes can happen, they can also be avoided if you just communicate with your Executive or team if assistance is required or if you need guidance on urgent tasks to ensure everything is done correctly and efficiently.


Business woman at office meeting discussion

Taking control of your day & being ahead of the game

Obviously, as a PA your role and tasks will differ from day to day based on your Executives requirements, but you will also likely have a lot of things carrying over from the previous day. At the beginning of each day ensure you write up a to-do list and tick off your tasks as you go along. 

Print of a copy of your Executives calendar so you have to hand and are aware of what he has coming up ahead of the game. This will help to keep you on track and ensure that you are not missing anything. Being proactive can also ensure that you are working on the right things and completing tasks that are increasing your Executive’s productivity.


Person writing to-do list in notebook

Be assertive

As a PA you are likely to be inundated with tasks from your team as well as the Executive(s) that you are supporting. Don’t be afraid to push back a little. You are only one person and if you feel that your day is filling up fast with ‘urgent’ tasks from different people make them aware of this. 

Taking on too much will add to your stress and its likely that you won’t complete every task if this is the case. Being a little assertive will help you manage what is most important in your day.

It’s the nature of the role to be busy and for each day to bring its own unique challenges, but a good PA will be prepared and plan their time so that urgent requests can be met. If you’re struggling in your current role or would like to chat about opportunities get in touch – I’d be happy to advise. 

Traits of a Great Assistant

The Traits of a Great Assistant – How to Excel In Your Career

Traits of a Great Assistant

The role of an Assistant is vast – any Personal and Executive Assistants out there will scoff at the idea that their job is merely a simple 9 – 5. Long days are part and parcel of the role, and that’s just one of the factors that contribute to making this a demanding profession that requires an ever-growing list of skills.

EAs and PAs are required to be at their boss’s beck and call, making sure everything runs smoothly. They must be excellent all-rounders, completing a wide variety of tasks to a very high standard.

If you’re an Assistant, you’ve probably already read a countless number of blogs and articles with advice on how to be good at your job. Possess good communication skills. Manage your time wisely. Be a self-starter.

But we’re not interested in just being good – we’re interested in being great.

So how do you accelerate your career to new heights?

We’ve put together a list of characteristics that all top-notch Assistants should possess, as well as advice for becoming a pro in your field.

Anticipation is Key

Predicting and preparing for any problems that may arise, before they arise, will save valuable time when you need it the most. You don’t need the added stress of realizing that your boss’s passport is out of date the day before their flight or finding out on Friday evening that the Monday morning client meeting has been double-booked. Think big picture and always plan ahead.

Organization is key here – keep track of your tasks responsibly (read on for some great apps that will help you with this).

Technological Prowess

You’ll need to be a wizard with all things tech. Apps and computer programmes can and should be present in nearly every aspect of your role. There are the more obvious ones such as Microsoft Office and G Suite, which you will know inside out.

Then there’s Dropbox, which is always useful for sharing and storing documents efficiently. Monday and Trello are excellent task organizers that will help you keep on top of that lengthy list of assignments. If you need a more efficient and organized way of communicating with your boss and colleagues, Slack allows you to create company-wide message groups, as well as private chats for smaller teams. You can also use voice note-taking apps like Google Keep or Evernote for times when a pen and paper aren’t available.

As well as integrating technology into your own duties, you should know how to troubleshoot your boss’s computer too, so you won’t have to call in an IT professional. Not only will this save time and money, but it’ll also help you gain extra brownie points in your boss’s book.

Traits of a Great Assistant


In a role like this, you’ve got exclusive backstage access to your executive’s business and life – you’ll be privy to email accounts, credit card details, and voicemails. For the employer-employee relationship to be successful, your boss needs to feel comfortable sharing highly sensitive information with you.

This means that you will need to convey yourself as trustworthy and unlikely to steal or leak any of these details. Your boss’s confidence in you also needs to be rock-solid, so they can be sure that you are responsible and sensible enough not to accidentally let something slip.

Attention to Detail

It’s the small things that count.

You’ll need to proofread reports, letters, and emails carefully and weed out any errors. Spelling and grammar need to be impeccable, and misspelling the names of clients and their businesses is the ultimate no-no.

Mistakes will look sloppy, and this will reflect badly on both you and your manager. Take the time to proofread your work and double-check the finer details – trust us, you’ll be glad you did it.

Know Your Business

It’s important to be savvy about your industry. Regularly read up on other players in your field. Knowing what your competitors are doing will provide you with excellent tips and strategies to help you up your game.

Stay informed of what’s going on in the organisation for which you are working, also. You are often the face of the Executive and the organisation, and being knowledgeable and up to date on everything will reflect well on you, your manager, and your company.

To help you with this, you can set up a Google Alert for relevant words or phrases, and you will receive a notification whenever they get new mentions on the internet. You can also use a news app such as Gather or Flipboard, which allow you to customise your news feed to your own interests. Podcasts are another great way to stay savvy, as well as being the perfect way to pass time on the commute!

Be Adaptable

It’s important to be savvy about your industry. Regularly read up on other players in your field. Knowing what your competitors are doing will provide you with excellent tips and strategies to help you up your game.

Stay informed of what’s going on in the organisation for which you are working, also. You are often the face of the Executive and the organisation, and being knowledgeable and up to date on everything will reflect well on you, your manager, and your company.

As you’re already aware, the duties of this role can vary widely.

If there isn’t a suitable employee available at the time to get something done, it will most likely land on your desk (and this will often happen last minute). You may be required to project manage an event or conference, or to organise gifts for clients and colleagues at key times throughout the year.

This means you’ll need to think on your feet and adapt quickly to the task required of you, even if it isn’t your area of expertise. Being resourceful is important here, and our next tip will help you with that.

Traits of a Great Assistant

Create and Nurture a Network of Contacts

Your network of professional contacts will be invaluable to you as an Executive Assistant. It’s a good idea to join Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Groups, where you can chat with your peers. Attend events where you can network with others in your field and share tips and experiences with like-minded people. You can also save their details for a later date when their expertise might be exactly what you need to solve a problem at work.

Courses are a great way to upskill and meet other professionals in your industry. We’re thrilled to host internationally acclaimed EA/PA Coach Adam Fidler in Dublin in November, where you can broaden your knowledge and network with your peers. Click here or contact us at for more information

The Executive PA Forum is Ireland’s No. 1 Conference for EA’s, PA’s, and administrative professionals, and is just the event you need if you’re looking to create or expand your professional network. It’s taking place on November 3rd, 2020, with workshop day on November 4th. Click here for more details.

You can also connect with us on LinkedIn to join a network of nearly 7,000 professionals in your industry.