Regardless of the exact role of the executive you work for, the way you manage their calendar can have a direct impact on their ability to do their job properly. An accurate calendar can keep them on schedule, help them keep track of deadlines, and make sure they’re aware in advance of important dates. In this article, we discuss why managing an executive’s calendar is important and provide actionable tips on how to do so.
Why is it important to effectively manage an executive calendar?
Effectively managing an executive’s calendar is important mainly because it helps the executive make full use of their available time. It involves keeping track of all important activities, such as events, meetings, and tasks, with the overall purpose of helping the executive use their limited time as efficiently as possible. This typically involves prioritizing tasks and requests, strategically planning long-term activities and constantly setting daily activities, while trying to balance daily accomplishments and long-term success.
Some of the most important benefits of a well-managed executive calendar are:
It helps you prioritize both your boss’s goals, helping them use their time and energy as efficiently as possible
It helps you avoid schedule management mistakes, like double bookings, missed meetings or not prioritizing potentially crucial meetings.
It improves long-term prospects by setting priorities long into the future
It can help you and your boss assess the quality of previous work, as a well-managed calendar implies keeping a record of all past events and their purpose.
How to effectively manage an executive calendar
Consider these nine steps to improve the effectiveness of your calendar management:
1. Have a discussion with your boss
The person who needs to be familiar with the calendar that you manage is ultimately the executive, so the first step toward effective calendar management is a discussion with your boss. As an executive assistant, you need to know the following:
If your boss already has a scheduling system that they currently use or have used in the past
If they had any previous calendar issues
If they have any suggestions for you on how to manage their calendar
If other people need to receive permission to modify entries in their calendars.
2. Choose the right scheduling app
Although you could theoretically manage an executive calendar manually, the use of computer or smartphone software is likely to make things easier and more efficient. Aside from allowing you to book certain tasks and events along with their full details, calendar software also helps you with event confirmation, as you can request a response from someone if you want to know if they received an invitation or confirm a received invitation to an event or meeting.
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3. Get familiar with the app
After choosing the most appropriate scheduling app for your particular situation, you need to carefully study all its features and tools, as they may help you improve your efficiency. You can, for example, set automatic reminders for sent invitations or create color codes for different tasks, based on their nature or importance.
4. Create a calendar template
Now that you are familiar with the calendar software, you can start building a template that you can later edit depending on your boss’s schedule. First, you need to determine all the activities that your boss must do each week, like returning emails and phone calls, performing research, meeting clients, meeting staff, and any other recurring weekly activity.
Then you need to find ways to organize them in a way that minimizes any time waste. For example, if your boss is often away from the office, it can make sense to schedule a full day when they stay at the office and handle email communication and staff meetings. Finally, you need to make sure that your boss is familiar with your schedule and actually follows it.
5. Talk to everyone who has access to the calendar
After the calendar is set up, if there are any other people with access to it besides you and your boss, you need to talk to them and let them know how your boss’s agenda works from that moment on. Proper communication is important, so it may be useful to ask them to notify you if they add anything to the schedule and to promptly confirm if they are invited to participate in any meeting.
6. Constantly check traffic and weather reports
If the executive you work for has regular meetings outside the office, external elements like weather and traffic can significantly affect their schedule. Bad weather or a large event happening in town can severely alter driving times, so knowing about them beforehand can help you allocate more time.
7. Leave empty spaces in the schedule every day
Even if most of your boss’s tasks are repetitive and predictable, some unexpected situations may still occur. Similarly, some tasks may create other tasks or take longer than scheduled. The only way to create enough flexibility in the executive’s calendar is by constantly leaving blank spaces and occupying them based on short-term developments.
8. Take active steps to help the executive keep their schedule
After the calendar is created and implemented, you need to make sure that the time allocated for each task is respected. Although you may usually have an approximate idea of how much time is required for each task, practice may differ from theory and some tasks may take longer than planned. If your boss tends to spend more time than needed on some appointments, you need to let them know they may be late for the next task. However, if an important task takes longer than planned, you need to be proactive and modify the schedule accordingly.
9. Make sure you are the only person who has the final say on calendar events
Finally, as an executive assistant, you need to make sure you are the sole gatekeeper to the executive’s schedule. Handling a complex schedule is usually difficult, but it can be an impossible task if you do not have full control over who can access and edit it. Even if other people can see and edit the calendar, you need to let them know that you are ultimately responsible for keeping a well-maintained schedule and any additional needs to be approved by you first.
I hope you find this article helpful.