If you currently manage an executive’s calendar, you already know that this is a demanding, tedious, and sometimes stressful responsibility. It takes above average focus and a strong organizational ability to optimize such an occupied schedule. While there’s no secret recipe to keep an executive assistant on top of calendar management, there are ways you can master the task and manage an executive’s calendar no problem. To make your job easier, this article will cover some calendar management tips and tricks that act as a guide to helping you make scheduling an executive calendar a little less daunting.
- Why is it important to effectively manage an executive calendar?
- How to effectively manage an executive calendar
- Free Executive Assistant Templates
Why is it important to effectively manage an executive calendar?
Managing an executive’s calendar is extremely important for a few reasons. First, it helps the exec optimize their time and use it as productively and as wisely as possible. Calendar management involves understanding the weight of the executive’s responsibilities to help them prioritize specific meetings, events, tasks, and activities and keep track of all important obligations. Because executives tend to have such limited time, it’s essential to have a calendar that is organized thoughtfully and strategically to plan for short-term obligations and balance long-term goals that need to be met. This means that executive assistants need to find a balance between setting daily activities and planning for long-term requirements to be met.
Level up your executive assistant skills
Have a constant flow of communication in regular one-on-ones with your executive to best manage their calendar. Try a tool like Fellow today!
How to effectively manage an executive calendar
- Have a conversation with your boss
- Perform a time audit
- Get familiar with calendar tools
- Try block scheduling
- Add vital information
- Color code the calendar
- Leave white space
- Communicate with others
- Meet with the executive regularly
- Have the final say
1Have a conversation with your boss
You can only be as effective as your communication is. This is why it’s so important to have a conversation with your boss from the get-go so you can both set expectations and ensure you’re on the same page. Effective calendar management starts with this conversation, during which you can discuss what type of scheduling system to use, whether there have been any scheduling or calendar issues in the past, whether the exec has any suggestions or preferences for how you manage their calendar, and whether any other people have permission to directly modify entries in their calendar. Our recommendation would be for you to be the sole person with access to their calendar, but more on this later.
2Perform a time audit
It’s a great idea to perform a time audit for the executive to see exactly how and where they’re spending the majority of their time. This type of audit can be done by tracking the executive’s activities throughout the day for a certain period of time, whether it’s for a week or a month. Once you see how the executive is spending their time each day, you can optimize their schedule by finding ways to increase their productivity or efficiency in particular areas. A time audit also makes it possible for you to see which tasks are taking up too little or too much of their time. When done correctly, a time audit can really open up your eyes to how much of the executive’s day is spent on tasks that aren’t helping them reach their goals.
3Get familiar with calendar tools
After you and the executive you’re supporting have discussed which scheduling tool or app you’re going to use for their calendar, think about which calendar tools will specifically add value and integrate efficiently with it. These can be apps like Calendly, G-suite, or Fellow. You can integrate Fellow with just about any calendar tool like Google Meet, Slack, Zoom, Asana, Zapier, Jira and more—see a full list of integrations with Fellow here. Familiarize yourself with the tools available to you so you can set automatic reminders for invitations, create color codes for different tasks, and stay as organized and efficient as possible.
4Try block scheduling
Try blocking the boss’s schedule for just about everything. This habit isn’t necessarily limited to meetings and events but can also be used for travel time to the office or to meetings, for focus time to work on particular tasks, for time dedicated to responding to emails, etc. If you want to be even more organized and efficient, you can even create email folders labeled as: ‘urgent,’ ‘waiting for a reply,’ ‘follow up,’ ‘hold,’ or ‘to read and process.’ Everyone, including executives, needs to take breaks to recharge, eat, exercise, and spend time with their loved ones. Because execs are so busy, be sure to block time for these important occurrences as well so they don’t go overlooked.
5Add vital information
Not only is it important to have a calendar block for each activity throughout the day, but it’s just as important to add relevant information to each calendar block. This means that you should be adding notes, quoting emails, and adding meeting agendas and important reminders into the blocks. Doing so will save you and the executive valuable time fishing for the appropriate references for a task when you need them. This way, everything is in one place and can be referenced up to a few minutes before your boss needs to commit to the task. Be sure to add the vital information to the time blocks ASAP so it’s fresh in your mind and doesn’t become something that you have to come back to later.
6Color code the calendar
This one may seem like a given, but having a color legend for the executive’s calendar is going to be extremely helpful in the long run. When you initially implement the color codes for the calendar, don’t forget to print off a legend of it for your boss and place it somewhere visible, like above or on their desk so they can get used to it. After a few weeks, the executive will know at a glance exactly which each blocked activity relates to which color. This reference system will be helpful for your boss to get into the appropriate mindset for whichever activity is coming up for them next, so they’ll feel more at ease and more prepared in general.
7Leave white space
We’ve emphasized how important it is to block the executive’s calendar effectively, but it’s also important to leave white space. As an executive-level employee, often, they’ll have things come up that are unforeseen, and that extra white space saves the day. In a recent Supermanagers podcast by Fellow, Paul Parisi, Head Of Silicon Valley Bank Canada, shares,
“This is my time where I need to think about what might the organization need? Where’s our next move? What’s the next project that we’re going to work on? What’s the next strategy that we’re going to deploy? I build dedicated time into my calendar to do that.”
This white space that the executive can use exactly as they need will prove to be extremely important in allowing them to tend to the things that matter most to them and their team.
8Communicate with others
To those with whom the executive interacts the most, communicate the process for booking time with the executive so individuals are aware of and can adhere to the protocols set in place. This communication involves setting the standard to speak with you, rather than the executive directly, to set up a meeting, a coffee, or a phone call. This also means that all calendar invites are sent to you for your approval rather than directly to the executive. In the long run, this standard will save valuable time and allow things to run more smoothly. It will also help you to avoid any confusion or double booking. As you take over calendar management duties, it may be a good call to send out an email to anyone who interacts with the executive to set out how people and groups can book time with the exec from that point on.
9Meet with the executive regularly
Even after you’ve been working with your executive for a while, be sure to meet with them regularly. These check-ins allow you to see how they feel about their calendar management so far, what’s working, and what could be improved on. This meeting is also a good opportunity to deliver in-person reminders about important upcoming events or deadlines. You should meet weekly, but if that meeting frequency doesn’t work (we understand how busy these execs are), schedule in something once a month just for 10-15 minutes to touch base and make sure that you’re on top of everything and that you’re managing things adequately. Being on the same page as your boss is going to give you more confidence in your role and take some pressure off.
10Have the final say
Be sure to have the final say in your executive’s calendar. A huge part of your job as an executive assistant is saying no to many invitations and asks. Every single item that enters the executive’s calendar needs to be scheduled and accepted by you, and you only. Even if your boss wants to add a task to their calendar, make sure that it goes through you first. When other people access and edit the executive’s schedule, it’s going to cause disorganization, confusion, blaming, and conflict. We want to avoid double-bookings or forgetting something important as much as possible, and having the exec’s assistant be the only person who accesses and schedules anything for the executive is going to eliminate the chances of that happening.
Free executive assistant templates
We hope this article has been helpful in giving you some of the top tips and tricks out there to manage an executive’s calendar. It’s always a pleasure seeing you on the Fellow Blog and we can’t wait to see you next! Don’t forget to share this article with a friend or a colleague if you found it helpful.