The joy of admin
When I was a few years longer one of my colleagues did the unthinkable and managed to hurdle a few layers of the bureaucratic ladder and got a job as a manager in another authority. Naturally, we thought this was great but still worthy of a little light ribbing. You can only imagine how much the ribbing increased when we discovered that she had, as part of her new job, a secretary.
Now, admittedly this was only really part of a secretary (and doubtless the job title was something more glamorous such as a business support officer) but nonetheless we decided that this made our friend a grand cheddar and said as much.
A few year’s later and I was in a similar position. I had just received a job at the very bottom of the management ladder and after about a week in my new job my manager apologised that I wouldn’t have any administrative support (much too junior) but asked if I wanted to put in a request for some support from one of the central teams (maybe a day a week was suggested).
I thought about it for a few minutes and literally could not think of a single reason why I would ever need any admin support.
This is partly because I think it would probably take longer for someone else to do what I wanted in the way I wanted, and maybe because I don’t see myself as being important enough to have administrative staff. However, the main reason is that for some strange reason I actually quite like doing my admin.
So admin, why do I love you so?
Mainly, it soothes.
Sorting out my filing on a cold Friday afternoon or clearing out my e-mails when the council tells me I’m over my limit relax me. Admittedly, doing the above or writing up some notes are mindless tasks; which in and of itself can be a good thing. What’s more it is quite useful and having completed each of those tasks to remind yourself of things you may have forgotten about or missed.
So what about the other admin tasks?
Booking meetings: This is the bane of everyone’s life and the idea of getting someone else to balance the competing demands of all the people involved and manage my diary appeals on a superficial layer. But, in reality a quick flick of the autopick function and you can usually get most meetings done and plotting my diary is a joy.
Besides, if you secretly want to keep a Tuesday afternoon free to get some work done who knows that better than you? And what if a meeting is only in the diary because it always is?
Being in control; what’s not to like.
Writing up notes: I’m not talking writing copious minutes here but writing up my notes and preparing a short brief for relevant colleagues based on my understanding of the meeting is a short task and one that really helps me refocus on what just happened. If someone else wrote them up and I read them back I just don’t think it would have the same effect.
Dealing with e-mails: Absolute no brainer. Filtering out the junk is a pain but a quick pain and one mans junk is definitely another mans golden nugget. I’d rather have a quick flick through everything than leave someone else to filter for me.
And as someone who used to write replies for my boss I can state with absolute certainty that is no good for either party.
Preparing papers: Ok, so I don’t enjoy doing this. Formatting and sorting out detail are not my strengths (am working on it) but nonetheless if you are organising some meeting then there is a sense in taking a bit of control of it (I have been known to palm this one off…) Plus, if you’re in charge or preparing papers you can make sure there aren’t too many of them!
I’m sure there is loads more that a good administrator does and it is possible that if I ever get more senior in the organisation I’ll start to struggle to complete the above tasks. However, for the moment I find admin to be both therapeutic and useful for my job; so until I hear different I will continue to love my admin.
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