“Are you doing something proper now?”


Pam writes in:

I’ve a query about one thing that occurs to me on units and in places of work generally, however I by no means know the way to reply. What ought to I do when somebody provides me one thing to do, that isn’t that necessary, after which another person asks if I’m busy and may also help them? I do know it’s most likely easy, but it surely all the time catches me off guard, and I don’t know the way to reply.

I all the time fear that if somebody asks “Are you busy?” and I reply “No, what do you want?” That might come off as me dismissing no matter it’s the first individual informed me to do. But when I reply “Sure, I’m busy. Sorry.” It dismisses the second individual, who clearly has one thing extra necessary for me to do.

When there are a number of PAs, I don’t see it as that large of a deal as a result of they will all the time simply get another person, however after I’m the one one, the judgment name turns into a bit extra nerve-racking.

What ought to I do?

This sounds difficult, but it surely’s actually only a extra generalized model of the fire watch question Laura asked a few weeks ago.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll most likely say it once more: Say Sure.

On this explicit case, sure, you might be doing one thing.

However even when nobody had given Pam one thing to do, she ought to nonetheless be busy. Nobody ever desires to listen to, “I’m not doing anything right now.” As a result of should you’re not doing something, why did they rent you within the first place?

Discover one thing to do, even when it’s simply organizing the recordsdata or sweeping the AD trailer. That approach, when somebody asks, “Are you doing something proper now,” you may truthfully reply sure.

Don’t depart it at that, although. Inform the producer or whoever precisely what you’re doing, whether or not it’s your individual make-work, or a menial process another person gave you. Allow them to resolve if their request is extra necessary than what you’re doing.

As a PA, it’s probably not your place to say what’s or isn’t necessary, however you may nudge them in a single route or one other. There’s a world of distinction between, “I’m simply tidying my desk. What can I do for you?” and “I’ve bought to repeat these pages and get them to set, as a result of it’s the following scene we’re taking pictures.”

Some producers are well mannered,1 and don’t prefer to really feel like they’re imposing, even when coping with a PA. Additionally, sure beginner writer-producers could not really perceive what you do, and whether or not it’s pressing or not. They may say one thing like, “Are you able to get me a cup of espresso after you’ve completed submitting?”

In a case like that, it’s nonetheless most likely in everyone’s pursuits to put aside what you’re doing and pour that cup. It places the producer in a very good temper, which helps them get on with no matter actual work they need to be doing. Which, by the way, is nearly actually extra pressing than your submitting.

On the flip facet, you could run right into a producer who’ll say, “I don’t give a shit about pages. Get me my half-double decaffeinated half-calf latte proper now!”

It’s on you to determine the way to get each issues carried out. You would possibly wish to get one other PA to play barista, when you run the pages to set. Or, if you need the producer to know you dealt with it personally, ship another person with the pages to set when you whip up the drink.

And if there’s no different PA’s round…

You get these pages to set so the scene will be shot. In case your producer actually is an asshole, and yells at you for not getting his latte first, you simply must take it. Don’t argue, don’t clarify. Use your four magic words, and be pleased with the truth that you probably did the suitable factor for the present.


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