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How to Be Your Best Self at Work

The Secret to Making Yourself Unexpendable

I have anxiety. I am always worried that I am not doing enough, that people don't want me around, and I am definitely paranoid that people are going to get annoyed with me and fire me because I am not useful to them.

So, to make myself feel better, and to be my best self in all working situations, I follow some very simple steps.

1. If it takes under two minutes, do it right away.

I am an executive assistant to the director of a large international company. Sounds easy, right? All I'm supposed to be doing is getting coffee, making travel arrangements, scheduling meetings, and taking notes.

The thing is, we may have a huge turnover, but we are hugely understaffed. Why? Staff is expensive. Why would you pay another salary when you can load everyone up until every moment of their day is full?

It just about works—at the moment. When I have security guards interrupting me, whilst I'm writing the weekly blog posts, scheduling the social media posts, looking at travel for my boss to Italy, and redesigning our three websites, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.

If it is a simple question—they need me to print something or order something—I just do it right away. If it takes more time to do then I add it to my to-do list and get on with it later.

2. Lists

Sunday night rolls around and I am absolutely panicked. I can't remember what I need to do tomorrow. The dread of potentially not having anything to do is setting in.

I write a long list, starting with the first thing I need to do and adding in any little things I remember along the way. I then email it to myself, making sure I can start on that list as soon as I open up the office. Those precious hours before anyone else arrives get me on track.

3. Yes!

I am a "yes" person. I say "yes," and then I figure out how to make it work later. We are all busy. We are all overwhelmed. Being friendly and helpful is a good way to become vital to a team.

4. Be friendly.

My logic: If they love me then they won't fire me. Easy! I smile (even if I'm faking it). I'm nice to everyone. I don't gossip and I work hard.

5. Whiteboards

I have three whiteboards full of ideas in my office. If something pops into my head, I jot it down in case it is useful later. There are some great ideas on my boards, they're just waiting for the right opportunity.

6. Be responsive.

My boss emails me day and night. If I see his email, I respond straight away. Even if I am only writing, "Okay, no problem." Getting into the office and seeing 10 unread emails would give me a heart attack, so I like to know what's going on at all times.

7. Have ideas.

Offer up your ideas whenever possible. Start with phrases like, "I was thinking about this last night and what if..." This shows you are dedicated and want to help find solutions.

8. Be honest.

If you disagree with something your boss is saying, ask him/her (in a gentle way—sound intrigued not argumentative) to give you more details. If you have an opposing view, voice it, but make sure you express that you think this because you care. You want them to succeed.

If they shoot the idea down, let it be, don't argue. If their idea works, then great! If it doesn't work, avoid being smug. A loss for your boss is a loss for you. Remember. If the company loses, you ultimately lose.

9. Detach yourself.

Sometimes you will be told off. They won't be happy. They may even be set out on arguing with you about something. Don't engage. Agree with them. If they need the victory that bad, just let them have it. Even if you are 100 percent sure you are right and they are wrong, let it go.

Be right in your own mind. That's all that is important.

Let me just finish by saying that our bosses are people, too. They may not always be nice people, but they're still people. They have their good days and bad days.

I try to read my bosses mood before disagreeing with him. If he's in a bad mood, there will be a better time to discuss whatever the issue is.

I also usually apologise when I knock on his door for something—he's working, don't you hate being disturbed when you are concentrating? Good manners never hurt anyone.

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