How to Leverage an Assistant to Manage Your Calendar

CalendarMy previous post was dedicated to effective calendar management and in this post I want to focus on leveraging an assistant or executive admin to manage your calendar. If you are a CIO or a senior executive who is fortunate enough to have an assistant, then you know how they can improve your effectiveness. I’ve am blessed to have an incredibly great assistant who makes me significantly more productive and frees me up to focus on higher-level tasks.

If you have an assistant, I strongly suggest you encourage them to take ownership of your calendar. Make sure he or she understands your priorities and who can — and should — be allowed to override your planned day. Then, let your assistant begin managing your appointments for you. He or she should have 100% control of your calendar and your staff should know they must go thru them to get time on your calendar.

This can be challenging as people will try to circumvent the assistant and go directly to you by popping their heads in your office, calling or texting your mobile phone directly, sending you an email or IM, etc. You must support your assistant by not allowing this to happen. Politely, remind the person who want to get on your calendar that they must go thru your assistant. Otherwise, you circumvent their authority as the arbiters of your calendar and will create confusion and have a sub-optimal situation.

Schedule time to meet with your assistant every morning to do a short “Daily Review” of the upcoming day and the rest of the week to see what is ahead. Look a few weeks out so you can both be on the same page as to what the immediate future holds. Review your current priorities and help them understand the relative importance of potential meetings, lunches, dinners or other requests for your time. Some are truly ASAP while others can be in the next couple of weeks or even in the next month or so.

Make sure your assistant gets enough information for you to make an informed decision as to wither a particular appointment is worth your time or not. What is the agenda? Does is have to be a meeting or can it be handled via email or a phone call? Is there travel involved? If so, how much travel time should be allocated to ensure you will be there on time? What preparation should you do prior to the meeting?

Finally, work together to determine when to say “no.”  There will never be enough time in the day for all the people who want time on your calendar and ultimately that means your assistant will have to figure out what appointments NOT to schedule.

How do you leverage you assistant to manage your calendar?

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About Michael Keithley
Digital Transformation CIO and Public Speaker. Previously, CIO at Creative Artists Agency

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