20 Ways to Master Your Executive Calendar Management
Friday, March 10, 2023
Are you as organized as you should be? The answer to this question for so many is a resounding no, and that makes it nearly impossible for someone to manage their own executive calendar for scheduling meetings and more.
Most people who are in executive positions no longer have the time to handle their schedule—it can feel like a full-time job. However, with the right management tips, it is possible. Whether you are trying to manage your executive calendar, or you are managing one for your boss, it can often feel overwhelming.
There is a lot to do and keep track of, and if you aren’t careful, things can slip through the cracks. That’s the last thing you need. When meetings are missed and clients are upset, not even the best corporate gifts will help to make things right. Therefore, you want to get the scheduling right.
We know the stress it can cause, but the information below will provide you with some good tips and ideas on how to improve your calendar management when scheduling meetings and more. These tips will help those who are trying to handle their own schedules, as well as those who work directly with an executive.
What Is Executive Calendar Management?
Most of the time, executive calendar management and scheduling meetings are not tasks performed by the executive. They have too many other things on their plate and trying to organize the plethora of meetings that occur each week simply isn’t possible. Whether you are new to working with executive calendars, or you have been working with executives for years, there are always new tips that can help make your life easier.
Executive calendar management, at its most basic, is the process of planning and scheduling meetings, activities, and assignments in a streamlined fashion that reduces wasted time and missed opportunities. This is a vital but often overlooked and underappreciated aspect of working with executives.
The schedule focuses on the executive’s core priorities, the things they do each week that take up the bulk of their time and attention. A well-managed executive calendar is important not only to the daily success of the executive but also to their long-term success. Knowing how to properly manage this calendar is one of the most important skills any manager can have.
Without a properly managed calendar, most executives would struggle to keep up with all the demands made of them. Fortunately, when the management is done properly, it helps to ease the stress and the other problems that could arise, such as a conflicting schedule.
Benefits of a Well-Managed Executive Calendar
For starters, proper calendar management will help to ensure that the key goals of the executive and the company are prioritized, while also ensuring everything gets done due to the improved organization.
Having a process in place to keep everything on track, for scheduling meetings, sending reminders, sending corporate gifts, etc. is going to save time and reduce stress. It will provide better, deeper business insight, as you can start to see a pattern with the meetings, how time is spent, etc.
The tips below can help you to get a better handle on how to improve your executive calendar management. It covers everything from prioritization to checking the traffic and helping the executives learn how to use different online meeting tools.
The tips aren’t presented in any sort of order of importance, as the most important elements can differ from case to case.
Tip #1: Talk with the Executive About Their Schedule
Before you get too far along on an executive schedule or rework one that’s already in place, you need to talk with the executive to learn more about them. After all, this is their schedule that’s being managed, and they are going to need to be a part of the process.
Do They Already Have a Schedule in Place?
When you talk with them, you might find that they already have a scheduling system they’ve been using. It might be something they developed and have found works for them, or it could’ve been a schedule that a previous manager or assistant developed for them.
You will want to look at any schedule plans or blueprints that are provided and start to get a better idea of whether they are going to work well or not. A lot of times, you might find that there is a basic outline of something that could work well, but it needs to be reworked and massaged a bit to fit with the actual schedule. Other times, the plan might be total chaos and it may not work at all.
Don’t change things just for the sake of changing them and putting your stamp on them. Find what works and keep it and cut out all the bits that don’t work. If you truly find that nothing in their previous schedule planning system worked, you can start over.
What Issues Has Your Boss had in the Past with Scheduling?
When you are talking with your boss, ask them about any issues they may have had with scheduling in the past. What were their biggest problems and pain points with the schedule and what types of issues do they want to avoid the most? The more you know about them and what they need from the schedule, such as the best times of the day for meetings, the easier it will be to make the schedule.
If they have suggestions for you regarding the management of their calendar, listen to them. This doesn’t mean that they are always right when it comes to their schedule, of course, but this will give you a better sense of what they want and expect. When there are things that won’t work, let them know. Work it out with them ahead of time, so they aren’t surprised later.
At this point, you will also want to talk with the executive about who will have the ability to modify entries into the calendar, and how they will be handled. Some will only want one person to handle their schedule—you.
Others might understand that there need to be several people handling different aspects. Ultimately, though, one person should have the final say on what changes are made before they are added or removed from the schedule. As they say, too many cooks will ruin the soup.
Revisit the Schedule with the Boss in a Few Months
One of the important things to keep in mind is that even after you have a schedule in place, and everything seems to be going well, you’ll want to talk with your boss again.
Check in with them to make sure they are entirely happy with the way the scheduling system works. If they have any questions or concerns that they haven’t brought up before, now is the time when you can address them. The goal is to continue improving and streamlining the schedule so that it works well for everyone.
Tip #2: Shadow Your Boss to Get a True Idea of Their Schedule
Even after you have initially talked with your boss, ask if you can shadow them and have them explain what they are doing throughout the week.
Shadowing your boss will provide you with a fuller and deeper understanding of their regular routine, which you can use to help you improve your scheduling.
You can see their timetable, how and where they spend their time, and you will learn more about their professional contacts. When you start to build out and prioritize elements of their schedule, it will be easier because you’ve been there and seen it. You know who the most important contacts are, and, of course, those that your boss may want to have less contact with whenever possible.
You will end up discovering quite a bit more, too, including where they place their priorities, the personal items and apps they prefer, what they want added or removed from their calendar, when to schedule and not schedule items, etc. All this information is going to help you know how to create the best daily and weekly routine for the executive.
Tip #3: Prioritize Calendar Management
One of the most important steps in calendar management is prioritizing tasks, and people in the business. Who are the people who will need to have direct face time in person or through an online meeting via Zoom or a similar tool?
What meetings are the most important and what is not worth the time of the executive? While they need to be part of the most important meetings that deal directly with their area of responsibility or expertise, they don’t need to be at all meetings, even those that have other executives. The executive and their assistant need to figure out the most important places to spend their time. While this seems difficult—and it can be at first—you can simplify things by prioritizing. Let’s take a look at how this is done.
Consider the Eisenhower Matrix, which is sometimes called the Urgent-Important Matrix. In this matrix, four segments cover two types or “levels” of problems/meetings/activities—urgent and important.
Understanding how this system works will provide you with the tools and knowledge you need to prioritize tasks according to what needs to be done and what can be delegated.
Where Does the Eisenhower Matrix Come From?
Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, was a man who was always involved in high-level decisions and meetings that had to be prioritized. He was an army general, the supreme commander of the Allied Forces during World War II, and later the first supreme commander of NATO.
Given these positions, he needed to have a way to make decisions effectively, which is how the principle was created. It makes it possible to prioritize by urgency and importance. This can help massively with scheduling.
This system breaks things down into four sections/quadrants, as mentioned. Let’s get a closer look at them to see how you can use them when scheduling meetings and more.
Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important Activities
The first quadrant is where all of the tasks/meetings that are urgent and important need to be placed. These are the things that need to be done first, as they are the most important. They are priority number one.
Some examples of this might include board meetings, calls with board members, or investor calls. They need to be placed on your calendar and not forgotten. The tasks in this quadrant may also take some preparation on the part of the executive.
Quadrant 2: Important but Not Urgent
The items placed into the second quadrant will require attention, but they don’t need attention right this moment. Instead of needing to be done today or tomorrow, things that fall into this category could instead be scheduled for later in the week or next week.
Quadrant 3: Urgent but Not Important
The third quadrant is the space where there are tasks are less important. They could be pushed further down the line, or they could even be delegated to someone else. These types of tasks could often be handled by executive assistants rather than the executive themselves.
Some of the things that might fall into this category include preparing documents or planning travel. It could even include choosing corporate gifts for clients, for example.
Quadrant 4: Neither Important Nor Urgent
These are tasks the executive shouldn’t do and meetings they shouldn’t take. It might be busy work or tasks that are better suited for someone else in the company. These shouldn’t even be put on the schedule; they should be given to someone else to handle.
Tips for Using the Eisenhower Matrix to Manage Time Better
You will want to keep this matrix in mind when you are preparing a schedule and need to prioritize. Using it can help you improve your time management. You, or the executive you are creating the schedule for, can get the important things done.
Putting things on a to-do list in order of importance is a good way to organize tasks. However, you mustn’t add too many tasks to any of the quadrants to avoid becoming overwhelmed. It’s not about having the biggest collection of things to do. It’s about getting things done.
Ideally, there will be a matrix for business and another one for personal tasks. This way, the important elements for both areas of a person’s life can be prioritized. Of course, this doesn’t mean that a person’s work-life balance is automatically fixed. It just gives them a means of clearly seeing what needs to be a priority.
Tip #4: Always Keep Meeting Preferences in Mind
Let’s be honest. Everyone has a different threshold level when it comes to meetings and what they can reasonably handle on a given day. Some people don’t mind meetings at all. They thrive on them even if they are just the ones who are sitting there and listening rather than presenting. Others want to spend at little time in meetings as possible, especially if they aren’t presenting.
For executives, and those who are planning their schedules, it is important to understand those meeting preferences as best as possible. This way, it will be easier to have a schedule that matches up with those preferences as much as possible. Below are some of the different aspects you will want to decide and talk about when planning meetings.
What’s the Best Time of Day for Scheduling Meetings?
One of the first things to consider will be the best time to day to schedule the meetings. Some people tend to do better in meetings that take place in the morning. Others may prefer the afternoon. Determine what will work best for the executive you are scheduling meetings for and try to slot them into the right time of day.
Of course, there will be some meetings that are going to need to be scheduled at times of the day that might not be ideal. Some important clients might be across the country or in another country, for example. A higher-level executive may have their own preferences and may hold meetings at different times.
Always try to schedule the meetings during the preferred times but realize that it won’t always be possible. Do not schedule meetings during times that you know will not work for them. If they are supposed to pick up their children from daycare at a certain time each Tuesday and Thursday, you want to make sure you avoid scheduling meetings for them during those times.
How Long Should Meetings Be?
When an executive schedules a meeting, how long should it be? Not all meetings need to take an hour. A weekly staff meeting, for example, probably shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes on most weeks. A more important meeting with the board might take an hour.
The duration of meetings will vary depending on the type of meeting. Keep this in mind when putting together a schedule. Try to find out the average duration of meetings at the company and use these as a guideline. Just keep in mind that the actual duration can vary. Therefore, you will want to make sure to schedule some added time between the meetings, as discussed below.
How Much Time Should There Be Between Meetings?
When executives have meetings that are back to back, it can sometimes cause them to back up and fall behind. No one wants this, so make sure you are adding in plenty of buffer time between the meetings, just in case one takes longer than you may think.
The amount of buffer time can vary, but it should typically be at least 10 to 15 minutes. Having this extra time will ensure there’s no problem if one meeting runs a few minutes late. It will also provide the executive with some time to go to the restroom, grab a drink, etc. before the next meeting.
Where Should the Meetings Take Place?
The location of the meeting is going to vary based on a range of factors. When having a typical staff meeting, it will likely take place in a conference room at the place of work. This is also where meetings with board members or clients could take place, as well.
However, meetings could take place in a host of other areas based on their nature. They could take place at a restaurant, a hotel conference room during a convention, a coffee shop, etc.
Depending on the nature of the meeting, they might even take place online. The executive will need to learn how to schedule a Zoom meeting if they are going to be doing online meetings.
When your executive is scheduled to meet with higher-ups, the meeting place is going to be predetermined by those in charge.
What Times Will Never Work for Meetings?
Executives are likely to have certain blocks of time during the day when they are never going to be available for meetings. This might be at the end of the day when they must go and pick up their children, or it could be a part of the day that is cordoned off specifically for planning, strategy, or other work.
You should try to avoid scheduling anything during this period if possible. Of course, there may be certain things that can’t be done at other times. An important client might not have any other time available, or a company owner/director might request a meeting during that time.
You will want to let the executive know if that’s the case and then work with them to make the meeting flow as smoothly as possible. In some cases, this might mean making other arrangements to help them with other aspects of their work or lives they are trying to handle.
What Happens When the Executive Is Out of the Office?
Some executives do not want to be bothered when they aren’t in the office. They might be at home, or they might be on vacation and the last thing they want to do is deal with meetings. However, others will make themselves available and will stay connected when they are out of the office. Talk with the executive about what types of issues would constitute an emergency that they will respond to while out of the office and what can wait.
Tip #5: Use Calendars for More than Just Scheduling Meetings
One of the mistakes a lot of people make is thinking that the executive calendar can only be about scheduling meetings and the “big” business tasks that need to be handled. While there are likely the most important elements that will need to be added, they are certainly not the only items that can be placed on these calendars. There are plenty of non-meeting tasks that can be added, as well.
What Could You Add to the Calendar?
This might include personal appointments, for example. Maybe the executive has a meeting with a doctor that they can’t miss or a meeting with their child’s teacher. Having those added to the schedule will help to ensure that they are remembered and attended to. If they are on separate calendars, which is how a lot of people still operate, there is a risk that something will be missed.
You will also want to add important family commitments to the schedule, along with any work deadlines that aren’t directly connected to the meetings. Even adding an exercise schedule and meals to the calendar can be a good idea. It might seem like every second of a person’s day is accounted for, but sometimes that’s what’s necessary.
Why would you want to add these types of items to the executive calendar? If you don’t have everything combined, there is a risk that something is going to be missed. It becomes too easy for two things to be scheduled at the same time, which could cause some serious problems.
Having everything organized and prioritized helps to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks and that you haven’t overbooked. It may take a little extra work, but it tends to be well worth the effort as it reduces the risk of problems later.
Tip #6: Color Code the Meetings and Other Activities
Color coding meetings, along with other types of actions, tasks, and activities on the calendar are helpful. It can serve as shorthand to let the executive know the “type” of task ahead of them at a glance. The color coding will also let executives and assistants know where there might be a lot of downtime or when there are too many meetings in a row, just by the amount of color on a page. As you can see, this is a helpful tool, and many of the meeting schedule software choices offer this option.
Options for Color Coding Events
Consider the different ways that you could use color coding. You could use the same color for a recurring meeting, different colors for onsite and offsite meetings, a color for priority level, personal activities, deadlines, etc. There are plenty of options. You will need to find the one that works best for you.
Once you have a color scheme, you will want to stick to it. You can’t just change the colors on a whim because it will be confusing. If you use green to denote the time a person must go to the gym, you don’t want to start using green for board meetings.
Use the Same Colors Across the Board
Here’s another tip. A lot of the time, there will be an online meeting scheduling tool. These are handy, but they often aren’t used alone. Often, executives also like to have hard copies of their schedules. They might have it printed out daily or weekly, or they might have it all noted in a planner.
That’s great, and it can be handy, but you need to make sure that the calendar is the same whether it’s in an online meeting schedule or it’s a paper copy. Color coding could help with this. Make sure the colors you use are the same for every calendar to eliminate confusion.
Tip #7: Choose a Good Meeting Scheduling Tool
The tools you are using for scheduling meetings will make a huge difference. You want to be sure you are choosing a high-quality tool if there isn’t already one in place. Even if there is a tool that’s being used, you will want to make sure it’s the right option for your needs.
Benefits of Quality Meeting Scheduling Software
The purpose of this type of software is to help individuals and groups determine the best time to schedule meetings. The tools will help to make it far easier to stay organized, so you can keep track of meetings without going through multiple calendars. Some of the software will even sync across devices.
This means the executive assistant and the executive can both have the calendar on their phones and computers. Changes made to one will update across devices. Good scheduling software will be easy to use, and it means there will be fewer forgotten meetings.
When you are choosing the meeting scheduling software, you want to be sure it offers synchronization, as well as third-party integrations.
What other types of tools are you using, for example? Will the software integrate with Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, and other tools? What types of communication software does the app support? Will it work with Zoom and Google Meet? You want to make sure you have a scheduling app that is going to work with the other tools you are using.
You also need to think about how customizable the software will be and the overall capabilities that it offers. Can it factor in time zone changes? Can you use color coding? Will it be able to push out reminders and notifications?
What about the overall ease of use of the application and its mobile-friendliness? After all, a lot of executives today spend time away from the office. They are using their phones more than their desktop, so you want to be sure that the scheduling software app can be accessed quickly and easily through any device they are using.
Take some time to find a quality solution that will grow along with your needs. Look at all the features, the pros and cons from reviews, and see if there is a free trial. This should give you a chance to see what you like and what you don’t like.
Tip #8: Consider Tools for Online Meetings
In addition to the app that you will be using to schedule the meetings, you also must think about the tools you are going to use for online meetings. More and more executives are realizing that using online tools for meetings is more efficient and cost-effective for everyone involved.
Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet are just three of the mainstream options that are being used today. These will likely be the tools that are going to be used in your workplace. All of them are relatively easy to set up and use, but you can’t just assume that the executives you are working for know how to use them.
Does the Executive Know How to Use the Meeting Tools
How many times have you seen or heard about people in Zoom meetings not realizing there is a filter on, so they end up looking like a cat or a clown to their colleagues? It might be funny for a few minutes (and forever online), but it’s not professional.
A lot of executives might have excellent minds for business. However, they may not know their way around Zoom or Google Meet. You need to know how to schedule a Google Meet and schedule a Zoom meeting, and you need to know the executive knows how to use the tool.
You want the executive to be able to turn it on and off, join meetings, invite people, and take care of all the basic functions. You might want to spend time with them before the first meeting using any new platform to make sure they understand how to use the tool correctly. Let’s look at a few of the most important things to do and avoid when using Zoom and other similar tools.
Tips for Video Meeting Tools
One of the first things you will want to do is make sure that you show the executive how to use all the video settings, which can help them to ensure they have a clear picture on the platform. Once you have the settings set up for them, they should be good to go. However, make sure they understand how to use the tool in case they need to set up a meeting while they are on the road and using a different computer.
Next, let them know that their office or another office is fine for their background on Zoom. Yes, there are countless background options, but things like the beach, a castle, etc. are better for personal Zoom calls rather than corporate calls. You could imagine that most executives would know this, but then you would be wrong.
Next, you want to make sure they understand the importance of sound when it comes to these meetings. The sound is even more important than the video if we’re being honest. Ideally, they won’t be using the computer or camera microphone. Instead, they should invest in an external microphone. This could be a headset or a standalone microphone. If they are going to be doing a lot of online meetings, stress the importance of getting a better-quality mic.
Speaking of microphones, make sure your boss knows how to mute and unmute themselves while they are in a meeting. This can help to ensure no background noises are coming through when they aren’t speaking. It also ensures that if they are saying something private to someone in the room, everyone in the meeting won’t hear them.
Using Zoom and similar tools is easy, but a lot of executives will need a bit of a crash course to get them going. Once they become more accustomed to online meetings, though, you can be sure they will like them. They get to stay in their office—or even at home in some cases—rather than traveling to another office, another part of town, or another part of the country. It is faster, financially smart, and far more convenient.
Tip #9: Build a Calendar Template to Make Your Life Easier
Once you start to become more familiar with using the calendar scheduling software, you may want to think about building a template that you can use for your boss’s schedule.
You will start by making a list of all the things that the executive has to do each week. This might include returning calls and emails, holding a staff meeting, spending time researching or working on tasks, etc. All the things that they do each week without fail can be added to the template, so you can organize them.
Once you have what you feel is a good template, you will want to go over it with your boss, so they can make sure that it works well for them. When you create your first template, don’t be surprised if the executive asks for a few things to be moved somewhat, or for there to be more time between meetings, for example.
It’s not just because they necessarily want to put their own “stamp” on the template. It is likely because they know themselves better than you do at this point, and they may know that 15 minutes between meetings is going to work better for them than five minutes, or that they shouldn’t have meetings right after or before lunch.
Listen to what they have to say and develop a template that will work better for them. You can then use that template and edit it when anything else crops up and needs to be added. You can change the times for meetings, change dates, etc. However, by having that basic template ready to go each week, you are going to save yourself a substantial amount of time and effort. Just makes edits as needed.
Tip #10: Double-Check to Avoid Double Booking and Other Issues
When you are using quality software for scheduling meetings, the chance of you double-booking is next to zero. However, there is always the chance that something could go wrong and that there could be two meetings that overlap.
For example, the executive might’ve tried to change the time or day of a meeting without telling you, and they may have inadvertently set the meeting at the same time as another.
Therefore, you will want to make it a point to double-check the calendar just to make sure there are no issues with double booking. If you have good software, this shouldn’t be an issue.
However, if it does become a problem, you’ll want to send some of those unique corporate gifts to the people who were bumped without being told to help smooth things over.
Double Booking and Their Personal Life
Executives tend to spend a lot of time at work and thinking about their jobs. Their dedication is likely one of the reasons that they reached the executive level in the first place. Of course, this also often means that other parts of their life don’t always get the attention they deserve.
Often, this is where double booking becomes an issue. They might have you set up meetings without realizing that they are going to miss a child’s recital, a birthday party, or an anniversary dinner.
Even though it isn’t the job of an executive assistant to handle these matters, it can still be a good thing to do. Make sure that you aren’t booking these meetings on special occasions and days with the family.
Tip #11: Set Up Reminders for the Executive for Each Meeting or Event
When you are using a quality meeting scheduler app, you will find that it should be easy to have reminders set up that will send out alerts to your phone and the executive’s phone. These can be a good way to ensure the exec (or you) remembers that there is a meeting and checks the schedule. The reminders will also help to keep them from staying in one meeting or out to lunch for too long. This is one of the best and easiest ways to save time and avoid making mistakes when it comes to upcoming meetings.
While you always want to make sure the executive gets their reminder, don’t forget about all the other attendees. You want to be sure they are there, as well, so send out reminders to them, too.
Most of the calendar platforms on the market will allow you to send reminders to yourself. You may be able to send yourself multiple reminders. Consider sending one the day before the meeting, and then another 15 minutes before it is set to start.
When you receive the notification the day before the meeting, it is your job to then send out confirmation requests and reminders to all the other people who are going to be at the meeting. This will make sure that no one forgets about the meeting.
Tip #12: Make Sure All Necessary Documentation Is Available
Before going to any meeting, it is important to ensure that all the required documentation and information is available before the meeting. Ideally, the executive will have taken the time to go through the information and organize it themselves. This doesn’t always happen, though, and it could fall on you.
The type of documentation will vary based on the meeting, of course. It could be committee reports, financial reports, agendas, profiles of the clients, information about a product, service, or business… it could be just about anything. This is why you need to know what is going to be happening at each meeting, so you can make sure all the needed documentation is ready, and that the executive has been properly briefed.
Additionally, make sure that any of the other attendees to the meeting know what they are supposed to bring if anything. You want everyone to be prepared, so the meeting goes as smoothly as possible.
Tip #13: Don’t Overschedule—Leave Some Space in Each Day
There may be a desire to schedule every single minute of the day believing that it will improve productivity. However, we all need a bit of space during the day when there aren’t any meetings, and this includes your boss.
Consider how many meetings are actually being held and how many are important enough to attend. Research shows that about half of the meetings in the workplace are a waste of time. All that wasted time means less productivity if we’re being honest. Too many people are sitting and doing nothing worthwhile during a lot of meetings that cover topics that could’ve been handled in an email instead.
You want to make sure that you have meeting-free blocks in your calendar, and that your executive has plenty of time without meetings, as well. There are plenty of other things to take up that time and that will make everyone more productive.
Overscheduling, whether it is meetings or other types of work, will end up leading to burnout rather than efficiency and productivity.
Tip #14: Consider the Traffic, Weather, and Other Events that Could Delay the Meetings
These are things that few people stop to think about when it comes to scheduling meetings. A lot of times, meetings are scheduled, and it’s just assumed that everything is going to go according to plan. While that might be true much of the time, there are always little wrenches that can get thrown into the plans.
If your boss has a meeting across town at 1 p.m., when do they have to leave? If it normally takes half an hour to get there, they will want to leave about 40 minutes early to ensure they have time before the meeting. What if it’s raining or snowing, though? What if there is a lot of traffic because there is a daytime ballgame happening downtown at the stadium? As you can see, countless what-if scenarios could come into play. The weather, traffic, natural disasters, and countless other issues could turn that half-hour trip into an hours-long nightmare.
Therefore, you want to do your best to keep apprised of all the things happening around town that could affect the meeting. Some of these won’t be noticed until the day of the meeting, of course.
However, others, like events happening in the city that could slow things down, or bad weather, can often be determined ahead of time. In those cases, even when the meeting might be with someone in town, consider online meetings instead. It can save a lot of time and frustration.
Tip #15: Help the Executive Keep Their Schedule
Although the executive is an adult and should be fully capable of handling sticking to their schedule, that’s not always the case. They may have a lot on their mind, and they might not like technology or truly understand how to use it, and this can end up causing problems. It often means that they are not following the schedule for one reason or another.
When they start missing meetings or making other mistakes, there’s a good chance that the blame is going to fall on you. It might not be fair, but that happens frequently.
Therefore, you might want to take a few minutes out of your day to check and make sure that the executive is sticking to their schedule. It’s not your job to be a babysitter but checking in on them can sometimes make things a lot easier for you. This ties in closely with Tip #11 about setting up reminders and alerts for them.
Tip #16: Review the Executive Calendar Daily and Adjust
Even though the goal is to create a strong schedule that doesn’t constantly get changed, things happen. There could be changes in your boss’s life which will mean things need to be changed quickly. They might come down with an illness, or their child could be sick and need them.
Regardless of the issue, you will want to check the calendar each day and check in with your boss, to see whether anything might need to be changed. The sooner you know about these needs for a change the better. Ideally, you will do it in the afternoon before you end your day. It will give you more time to contact anyone else that may need to be notified.
For example, if your boss isn’t going to be able to make it to the staff meeting that they are holding, you want to let the other attendees know ahead of time. This is especially true if the meeting is offsite.
Of course, even when you take the time to review the schedule, certain changes and problems can crop up at the last minute that will need to be handled. Do your best to make sure all who need to know about the changes are informed.
Tip #17: Limit the Number of People Who Can Change the Calendar
How many people are going to have access to the calendar? How many will be able to change information on the calendar, such as adding meetings, changing times, etc.? Ideally, the only people who would be allowed to do this would be the executive and the assistant assigned to the calendar and scheduling of meetings.
Of course, this isn’t always possible because there are often several assistants working with high-level executives. This means that more than one person might need to have access to the calendar. However, when there are too many executive assistants trying to manage a single calendar, you can be sure that chaos will ensue.
Each person who has access will believe that the meetings they are scheduling are the most important. They might move around one or more of the other meetings without thinking about the true priorities and what can be put off. Essentially, when there are a lot of people trying to handle the schedule, it’s going to become a mess sooner rather than later.
Therefore, one person needs to be in overall control of the calendar, and they will need to monitor the calendar and approve any potential changes. It will add another layer to the process of scheduling meetings, but it helps to reduce problems and actually helps to simplify things.
Tip #18: Ensure Privacy for the Calendar, Meetings, Etc.
Depending on the policies at the company and the type of online meeting scheduler you are using, you might find that the executive calendars are shared with others. This could be so that peers or higher-ups can see the schedules of the executives to get a better idea of when they are free, what they are doing, etc.
Other times, it might be other assistants working for the executive who have access to the calendar. It may even be the assistants to one of the other executives in the company that have access. This allows them to more easily schedule meetings between the execs.
While this can be helpful, it can also be a problem. Therefore, if you are going to share the executive calendar with others, you need to be careful about any meetings that you might not want to share. In these cases, you will want to be vague about the firm, organization, or individuals that will be involved in the meeting.
You might also have to think about things like security when traveling. You might not want to give away all the executive's moves when they are out. The executives may not want people to know when they are away from their home and their family either.
In cases when there is a shared calendar, assistants might want to have a private calendar of their own. This one can be just for their use, and the use of the executive they are working for. There’s a lot of benefit in doing this, as it can feature more of the nitty-gritty details. Since they are private, they won’t get shared.
Tip #19: Be Ready for Anything
Here’s the harsh truth of scheduling. Even when you put in all the time and effort needed to do the job well, and when you feel that you’ve planned for every possible eventuality, things can go wrong. Things can change at the last minute.
The executive might eat a bad breakfast burrito and become ill, or the people they are supposed to meet with could come down with a sickness, which pushes the meeting to an inopportune time. Issues in a person’s home life may take precedence to work, and the schedules may need to be shifted and adjusted to reflect this.
The truth of the matter is that you can’t truly be ready for everything. However, by keeping on top of the schedule, using the right tools, and helping your executive charge find alternative means of getting the job done, you can make life a lot easier for everyone.
Additionally, think like a disaster planner on occasion. Think about the sorts of things that could go wrong and then come up with potential ways to reduce the risk or to handle the problem if it does crop up.
The work of a manager who handled scheduling meetings and other tasks for an executive is never done. It doesn’t always come with the level of appreciation it should. However, with the tips above, you can at least make things a little easier for yourself.
Tip #20 Keep Trying to Find Ways to Improve the Calendar
Even with the best meeting scheduling tool, you will find that it is hard to get everything perfect right away. It is going to take some time and some work to sort out how each person prefers their schedule to be set up. Once you have a workable calendar and scheduling system in place, though, and it is going well, it doesn’t mean that you are finished.
There will always be new tools coming to the market that you should at least check out. For example, a decade or two ago, no one really knew just how reliant we would all be on things like Zoom and other online meeting apps. We knew they would be helpful, but it was the pandemic that truly brought them into the mainstream.
What will be the next tools that help to change business and the way that meetings are scheduled and held? Will it be virtual reality or something else entirely? Other tools could come to the market that are easier to use, more effective, or cheaper that companies may want to integrate.
As someone who is tasked with scheduling meetings, you need to be sure you keep abreast of all the options that are available now and that will be coming to market.The point is that there will always be ways to improve the way you are using the calendar and scheduling meetings. Do your best to stay ahead of the curve.
Other Ways Managers and Assistants Can Help Executives
Executive assistants and managers who help with the scheduling and planning of an executive’s day, week, and month are often the unsung heroes of a business. They keep everything running and happening on time and they ensure improved productivity. However, it’s not just the scheduling where they can help.
Often, they are good enough at solving problems that those issues are handled far before they reach the executive. Executive assistants can help frequently provide problem-solving help in various aspects of day-to-day operations, they have good insight into client pain points and what the clients want, and they can sometimes provide executives see things differently.
They could help to develop company culture, support business growth, and help the executives with a host of other tasks. For example, they could help with choosing corporate thank you gifts for clients, ensure there is someone to pick up the kids from daycare, handle travel arrangements, and so much more. This is just a sampling of the countless ways that a great assistant can help.
You will also find that you can help to act as something of a buffer. A lot of the time, people in and out of the workplace will attempt to get time with the executive. You can serve as an in-between. If they have a legitimate cause, it may be possible for you to set up a meeting.
However, you might also find that they would be better served by someone else in the company. You could redirect them to another person who will be a better point of contact and who would be a more appropriate resource.
Get Your Schedule in Order
Proper management of an executive calendar might seem like a lot of work, but when you use tips like those mentioned above, you will find that it can be easier. A little organization, research, and the creation of “standard” schedules that can be modified as needed will help immensely. You can increase productivity, reduce stress, and rest easy knowing that you have the schedule under control.
If things aren’t working as well as you had hoped, revisit the schedule, the software you are using, and priorities to see where changes can be made. For those who are creating their own plan for scheduling meetings rather than working with a manager or assistant, it might be time to get some help from the pros. It can help take a lot of work off your place, so you can handle all the other important aspects of your job.