Is being an executive assistant a stressful job?

Is being an executive assistant a stressful job?

The level of stress experienced in an executive assistant role can vary depending on several factors, including the specific job responsibilities, the working environment, the executive’s expectations, and the individual’s ability to manage stress.

While some executive assistant roles can be demanding and high-pressure, others may be less stressful, depending on the dynamics and requirements of the position.

Here are a few factors that can contribute to the potential stress levels in an executive assistant job:

Factors that can make being an executive assistant stressful

Time-sensitive tasks

Executive assistants often deal with deadlines, time-sensitive projects, and a high volume of tasks that require prompt completion.

Balancing multiple priorities and managing the executive’s schedule can sometimes lead to increased pressure and stress.

There are thousands of articles on managing deadline-related stress, so we won’t go into the details here, however, the general advice is to:

  1. Assess the situation
  2. Set realistic goals
  3. Plan your schedule
  4. Avoid distractions
  5. Take breaks
  6. Seek help

Our preference is always to set realistic goals and not hesitating to seek help. It is always better to ask for help 3 days before a deadline, than the night before!

Handling confidential and sensitive information

Executive assistants may be entrusted with sensitive company information, personal details of executives, or confidential business matters.

This responsibility can add to the pressure and stress levels, requiring a high degree of discretion and confidentiality.

Despite saying this, handling confidential and sensitive information can also be a positive in that you’re likely to be paid more to reflect this extra level of trust that is required.

In our analysis of the highest paid Executive Assistant roles, those in the legal industry ranked highly due to this exact reason.

Dynamic and unpredictable environment

Executive assistants frequently work in fast-paced and ever-changing environments.

Last-minute schedule changes, urgent requests, and unexpected events can occur, requiring the ability to adapt quickly and handle multiple tasks simultaneously.

When this happens, identify what other tasks can be postponed, and focus on the new task that requires immediate attention. PD Training has an excellent article on How to Prioritise Your Day Effectively as an Executive Assistant, and PagePersonnel also has an article on this topic worth reading titled Executive Assistant tips for prioritising like a pro.

Dealing with demanding executives

Depending on the executive they support, some executive assistants may experience higher stress levels due to demanding expectations, high standards, or challenging personalities.

The ability to handle difficult situations and maintain composure can be crucial in managing stress.

One of the top complaints about being an Executive Assistant in the /r/executiveassistants subreddit is dealing with challenging personalities – which unfortunately can’t be easily identified before taking on a new Executive Assistant role, and is also a tough problem to overcome, short of resigning.

We reviewed the top complaints over the past 30 days on the subreddit, and the main source of stress from commenters was the result of overly demanding or unreasonable executives!

Work-life balance

Balancing work responsibilities with personal life can be a challenge for executive assistants, especially during busy periods or when executives require assistance outside regular working hours.

Long hours, extensive travel, and a constant need to be available can impact work-life balance and contribute to stress.

However, it’s important to note that stress levels can also be influenced by individual coping mechanisms, time management skills, support systems, and the overall work culture within an organization.

Employers that prioritize employee well-being, provide resources for stress management, and foster a supportive work environment can help mitigate stress levels for executive assistants.


Ultimately, while executive assistant roles can be demanding, they can also be rewarding and provide opportunities for growth and professional development.

It’s important to assess your own stress tolerance, consider the specific demands of the role and the organization, and ensure you have effective strategies in place to manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

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