As an Executive Assistant, your time management skills are essential in order to successfully manage your Director’s/CEO’s schedule and ensure that all of their priorities are taken care of. Juggling a million different tasks at once can be overwhelming, but if you use the right time management best practices, you can organise your time more efficiently and reduce your stress levels. Here are some tips and best practices that will help you:
“The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey
There are always more things to do than there is time to do them. To be productive, it’s important to learn how to prioritise tasks.
- Make a list of everything that needs to be done.
- Rank the items on the list according to importance.
- Also consider how much time they need for you to complete them as well and if you need to liaise with others on anything before you can proceed.
- Contact others at the beginning of the day for anything you need so hopefully you will have their feedback/information you may need before you get to the relevant task later in the day making sure you provide guidance as to when you need the information by.
- Start with the most important tasks and work your way down.
- By using importance as your marker, you will reduce your stress as the day moves on as you will know the most important tasks have been dealt with.
- The tasks may also get easier to complete as you progress through your list so your day gets lighter.
Scheduling Meetings Effectively
“There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” – Henry Kissinger
There are a few key things to remember when scheduling a meeting. The first is to make sure the time works for everyone involved. The second is to pick a location that is convenient for everyone. And the third is to send out an agenda in advance of the meeting. But that’s not all! Here is a handy list of best practices that will help you:
- Always send a meeting invite with an agenda. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect from the meeting.
- Make sure to schedule enough time for the meeting. Meetings can often go off track, so it’s important to allow for some flexibility. People need time before and after as well.
- Choose a time that is convenient for all attendees. If possible, try to avoid scheduling meetings during peak hours.
- If someone is unable to attend, be sure to reschedule the meeting if that person’s attendance is essential
If you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to scheduling effective meetings!
“I do love email. Wherever possible I try to communicate asynchronously. I’m really good at email.” – Elon Musk
Email can be hugely time-consuming; however, it is an important communication tool for both personal and professional use. Here are some ways to minimise the time you spend on it.
- Use filters and folders to organise your email. This will help you quickly find the messages you need.
- Delete unimportant emails immediately.
- Respond to emails by order of importance – an email asking if you would like to subscribe to another newsletter is not as important as an email confirming travel arrangements from your manager!
- Set aside time each day to deal with email.
“Just in a professional world, sometimes a phone call is definitely more meaningful than a text.” – Kevin Harvick
There are a few key things to keep in mind when answering the phone as an Executive Assistant:
- Be prepared. If it’s a call you are expecting, have all of the necessary information readily available, including the callers’ name and any other pertinent data.
- Greet the caller by name. This will help to personalise the interaction and show that you’re taking the time to listen.
- Listen actively. Repeat back what you’ve heard the caller say, and ask questions if you need clarification. This will help ensure that you’re presenting the best possible impression to the caller.
- Stay positive. No matter how challenging a call may be!
“It isn’t necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.” – Frank Zappa
We’ve all been there… Drowning in paperwork with no system in place to make heads or tails of it. Well, fear not, dear reader as here are some tips to help with your paperwork woes:
- Keep your desk clean and organised.
- Have specific places for things like pens, paper, folders, etc. This will help you save time when looking for something specific.
- Create a filing system that works for you. This can be anything from alphabetical order to colour coding. Just make sure it’s easy for you to follow!
- Label everything! This may seem like common sense, but it’s easy to forget what everything is when you’re in a rush
Working with Teams
“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Mattie Stepanek
No one works in a vacuum. Even the most independent Executive Assistant has to work with teams at some point – whether it’s a team of contractors, colleagues, or employees. When it comes to working with teams, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
- Establish clear roles and responsibilities. This will help ensure that everyone knows what they need to do and avoid confusion.
- Communicate effectively. Make sure you are clear and concise in your communications and take the time to listen to what others have to say. Check things with the team on a regular basis to make sure nothing is missing or misunderstood. Very easy to do.
- Be patient. Teams are not always going to work perfectly right from the start – give them time to develop and grow.
Travelling as an Executive Assistant
“Running to the departure gate is my cardio” – Unknown
As an Executive Assistant, you may be asked to travel with your boss for work-related reasons. Whether it’s a quick trip to a nearby city or a long journey overseas, being prepared will make the experience easier for both you and your boss. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your travels:
- Pack light. You don’t want to be lugging heavy suitcases around airports and train stations. Try to pack only what you need, and remember that you can always buy things once you’re there.
- Make copies of important documents. In case you lose your passport or tickets, having copies will make life a lot easier.
- Stay organised. Keep a folder with all of your travel documents (passport, tickets, etc.) and make sure to put everything back in its place when you’re done with it. This will help avoid any confusion down the road.
- Pack snacks and drinks. Airports and train stations can be expensive, so it’s a good idea to pack some snacks and drinks to keep you going.
- Be flexible. Things don’t always go according to plan, so be prepared to adapt if necessary.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport/train station. You may also need to work on the way and keep in touch with both your boss and the office so make sure the technology you are taking with you is set up for this.
Maintaining a Healthy Work-Life Balance
“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.” – Courtney Milender
There is no magic formula for maintaining a perfect work-life balance, but there are certain tips that can help make the balancing act a little bit easier.
- Make a list of priorities and try to stick to them as closely as possible.
- Set realistic goals for both work and home life and try not to overcommit yourself.
- Take some time for yourself every day to relax and rejuvenate.
- Communicate openly with your boss and colleagues about the hours you are available to work.
- Don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t have the time or energy to take on another task.
- Take advantage of technology and tools that can help you stay organised and efficient.
- Try to maintain a positive attitude and be patient with yourself – it takes time to find the perfect balance.
As an Executive Assistant you are responsible for a lot of tasks, and managing your time is essential. We hope this article provides you with some tips for effective time management. By following these tips, you, in your role as an Executive Assistant should get more done in less time.
If you are looking to become an Executive Assistant, we offer industry-recognised and NCFE CQ certified qualifications that can help you on your way to becoming a qualified EA.
View our courses page here.
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