Ex­ec­u­tive As­sis­tant to a chief ex­ec­u­tive

In the Moment - - Good News -

Naomi Stew­ard, 40, is Ex­ec­u­tive As­sis­tant to the CEO of a global ad­ver­tis­ing agency in London. She is mar­ried to Rob and they live in West London with their pet res­cue rab­bit Olive.

I don’t over­load my men­tal ruck­sack

When I rst started my job it was over­whelm­ing. I had never worked any­where so busy. Af­ter two weeks, my husband Rob said to me: “You are car­ry­ing around a ruck­sack of stress. Pick out the bits that are weigh­ing you down and that you can’t do any­thing about and get rid of them.” I men­tally en­vis­aged all the wor­ries and thought: ‘Can I change it? Will it have an im­pact if I don’t do any­thing about it?’ If the an­swer was no, I imag­ined pick­ing each one out of my ruck­sack and I felt phys­i­cally lighter. If I start to get stressed now, I imag­ine the ruck­sack on my back and feel the phys­i­cal weight on my shoul­ders. If it’s stuff that isn’t help­ing me, I take it out. It’s a brilliant tech­nique that has com­pletely changed my mind­set.

Is it go­ing to mat­ter in a year’s time?

I have a lot of jug­gling in my job and oc­ca­sion­ally I do drop the ball. I’m a per­fec­tion­ist, so that is hard for me! But I ask my­self: ‘Is this go­ing to mat­ter in a year’s time?’ Ev­ery time the an­swer has been no. Most things don’t even mat­ter in a week’s time, let alone a year! I avoid stay­ing in my head

If I’m wor­ried about some­thing, I’ll talk about it. I think we worry about com­ing across as be­ing in­com­pe­tent at work, but talk­ing about things al­ways makes you feel bet­ter. It’s like re­leas­ing a valve: when the pres­sure gauge goes down things feel much more man­age­able.

I think: ‘It’s just busi­ness.’

If I’m hav­ing a bad day, I look at some of the photos of the an­i­mal char­ity I vol­un­teer for and it makes me re­mem­ber that there are big­ger things out there. My job is im­por­tant to me, but I’m not re­spon­si­ble for some­one else’s life.

We have a ‘20 minute no-talk­ing’ rule at home.

I have to talk to peo­ple all day at work. Some­times when I get home, I just need some time to my­self. Rob asks: “Do you want 20 min­utes?” and he’ll go to the pub for a quick drink or some­thing. It’s the same with him, if he says, “I just need 20 min­utes,” we both get it. It’s re­ally im­por­tant to have that time to just de­com­press.

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