There are so many hints and tips for running an effective diary and each PA/EA will have their own preferences, here are some that immediately spring to mind.
- In an ideal world, executives should be banned from editing their own diary! Possibly a little harsh, though a much easier way for their assistants to ensure their executives are well prepared and in the right place at the right time. Most hawk-eyed assistants can spot any changes they haven’t personally made at a 100 yards, so easily managed.
- I would suggest that you agree with your executive, that all meeting requests should come directly to you, including any arrangements they have made verbally rather than by email. Ensure your executive is kept in the loop when you make changes to the diary, especially any changes or cancellations that relate to that day, lunch cancellations or meetings push back/forward can add pressure to an already hectic day. Communication will play an important role in diary management, as much as the general communication between you.
- Perhaps put in place a colour scheme that you are both happy using. Different executives can have different preferences. I have supported executives that prefer the colours to be kept to a minimum: using one colour for HOLD and one for waiting confirmation: and other executives that like a colour for everything from travel, childcare, office projects, 1 to 1 meetings, team meetings, Board meetings, well you get the picture, a rainbow calendar! Either way of working is easy to adapt to, though do ensure you both know which colour refers to which! Using the Outlook categories option makes this very easy to put in place.
- Do think about what is happening during the day and either side of meetings. Don’t just look for a space and pop the meeting in, without thinking about what else is happening that day. Is there an out of office meeting taking place in the middle of the day, would she/he prefer to go straight home and work from there or come back to the office for a couple of hours. The time at home could be more productive for catching up on emails without office distractions.
- Travel time: remember to allow plenty of time for travel to and from out of office meetings, I have often taken over diaries where executives were expected to time travel from one side of London to another in fifteen minutes!
- It is very easy for diaries to become full of meetings, which can end up not leaving consolidated periods of time for planning or writing reports or board papers. Check with your executive whether they prefer to work on documents in the morning or afternoon and identify times in the diary that you can keep clear for them to do this and guard them well!
These are a few of my thoughts, please feel free to comment and add your own.