Typical Day of an Administrative Assistant: Job Description & Duties
I recently asked Beth, an administrative professional in a high school, to share her daily experience with our students to help them understand the typical day on the job and the duties of an administrative assistant. This was a difficult task as no day is ‘typical’ and each is extremely varied and ever changing. Here are her thoughts.
Here is my plan for the day:
1. Review my to-do list from yesterday
2. Re-prioritize my list for today
The list has
• Must do today
• Should do today
• I hope I have time for this
3. Sort through my e-mail
• Delete worthless messages
• Answer emails
• Sort out those that require more time or extra work to answer
– move them to my to-do list.
Since this is my most productive time of day I try to tackle my most demanding project.
This is when I would write important letters, work on a report for the school board, update
or refine a data sheet.
Great time for meetings. This is a nice to take a break from desk work and it has a
definite end time (lunch)
Lunch (Away from my desk, because I need to refresh and rejuvenate)
Return phone calls, respond to emails, work on to-do list
Do data entry, send or pay bills, prepare mailings, things that are more routine and
don’t require as much energy. This is a good time to get routine jobs complete.
Burst of final effort to complete my to-do list. Sort out things that can be moved
to tomorrow’s list. This time of day is my best ‘sorting’ time – complete short,
easy projects, request information from others for my projects, clean off my desk, etc.
In between all of this I answer the phone and deal with the immediate needs of customers and co-workers. As the face of the business, it is important that I handle interruptions to my schedule with graciousness and unruffled efficiency.
Here is how my day really goes:
Already people waiting in the office that have critical needs. Enroll new students, try
to get them into classes, enter their information into computer, and request additional
information from previous school.
The phone rings every 5 minutes with simple requests that take my time until 10:00
My boss calls and lets me know he has a meeting in another town, could I get a report off his desk, scan it and send it to his phone?
Finally I can check my email and review the stack of work left from yesterday.
I start on report for School Board, respond to a request for state reports on
attendance and teacher time in classroom, and organize a new time schedule
that meets state requirements and community requests.
Post information to the school website
My boss returns from his meeting—he needs me to contact several people
for a meeting tomorrow.
Lunch at my desk, while answering the phone and working on my to-do list.
Cover another administrative assistant’s post so they can talk with angry parents.
Look through the stack of un-filed papers for a recent report of student achievement,
find it, remember what I named it on the computer, edit it with new information and
submit to the boss.
Co-worker asks me to help organize a retirement party for a supervisor—she really means
will I arrange a time and place, make a list of invitees, prepare and mail invitations and get
prices from the caterer. She will handle the program.
Review my to-do list and see several projects that had to be completed today. I Work until
5:30 to complete them and vow to be better organized tomorrow.
I have found that the most important quality in an office assistant is flexibility. You must be able to switch gears quickly to respond to constant interruptions and the demands of the boss. I also feel that the office is the hub of the business. The assistant must be knowledgeable about all aspects of the business and be able to receive, evaluate and pass on information to all areas in the workplace.”