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Striking a balance between your personal and professional life is difficult in any job. But for private PAs, it can seem virtually impossible. When you work to your principal’s schedule, travel with them and are expected to be on call at almost any time, it’s no wonder many struggle to maintain a social life as well. And while it’s certainly a demanding job, there are steps that you can take to ensure that you find a balance.
Set boundaries from the start
Obviously you need to be fairly available to make this role work, but make sure you set out clear boundaries and keep some time aside for yourself. Agreeing appropriate out-of-hours response times can be really helpful. For example, you could suggest that while your principal can still ring you in an emergency at any time, they should simply text or email things that can wait to be dealt with during working hours. If you have other responsibilities in your personal life (such as fitting in family time), be open about these straight away. This will allow you to find a balance that works for you both.
Separate your personal and professional life
This can be a difficult thing to navigate, especially if your job involves a lot of travel. You should still be assigned time off, but be careful to use it for yourself. It can be easy to accept a dinner invitation with your principal during your personal time, especially when you’re somewhere you don’t know, but tread carefully. Saying yes once can make it harder to say no the next time. Remember that however well you get on, your boss is exactly that. They aren’t your best friend and if you’re not careful, your work life will become your only life. Likewise, have a work phone and a personal phone. That way when you are taking down time, you can switch the work one off.
Share the load
If you have other staff members at your disposal, be sure to share out responsibilities accordingly. It can be difficult to trust that others are able to do the tasks you would rather take on yourself, but spread yourself too thin and often you’ll be unable to perform at the level your boss requires. Worst of all, even if you have held onto work with the best of intentions, if it goes wrong you won’t be thanked and could even get into trouble as a result. Give other staff members clear responsibilities, communicate your expectations and let them get on with it. More often than not you’ll find they will be more than capable of the tasks given to them which will remove stress from you.
Have switch off time
Make sure you do take time off for yourself to recharge and relax. Use your assigned holiday (you’ll come back more refreshed which is better for you and your boss). If the very thought of being off causes you stress, match your holidays with your principal’s if they’re agreed. They can switch off and so can you. Aside from holidays, take regular time that’s just for you. Be that a yoga class, a run or simply time to watch a film or read a book, try and do something at minimum every few days where you slip quietly off the grid. You’ll be more effective when you’re at work, and less worried about taking time off in the future.
If you’d like to get in touch about your next move as a private PA, get in touch today.