When you’re a personal assistant, scheduling your boss’ day to run as smoothly as possible is an integral part of your job. A great assistant ensures that the flow of appointments and meetings make sense and leaves enough time to accomplish quality work on all projects.
Here are some key strategies for managing two schedules: your boss’s and your own.
Share a calendar.
If you’re still maintaining separate work calendars, you’re making life unnecessarily complicated. Use a program like Google Calendar to get you and your boss’s appointments, meetings, and days off on one shared, living document. There, you both can add, edit, and sync things seamlessly so no events through the cracks. She’ll know when you’re out for a dentist appointment and won’t wonder where you are, and you’ll know that she’s working from home on Friday so you won’t schedule any in-person meetings. When you meet with your boss, make sure to ask about the following week’s obligations and update your shared calendar as needed.
Leave space every day.
Scheduling effectively is not just about making sure every meeting and phone call fits into the day. It’s also about leaving chunks of dedicated time for your boss to do what he or she needs to accomplish—or even what he may have to do. Try not to book anything back-to-back without giving him a breather. Allow her some dedicated work time to actually get things done.
Don’t double book.
Double booking obligations just leads to unnecessary stress and occasional embarrassment for both your boss and you. Don’t do it. If you accidentally say yes to a meeting and find out there’s something else slotted for the time, reschedule right away with apologies.
Be the weather/traffic person.
If your boss has off-site meetings, make sure to map out routes to unfamiliar places. Keep an eye on traffic reports to avoid any unseen delays or catastrophes. Keep an eye on the weather report too, since storms will affect both what your boss wears and how fast she’s able to get where she needs to go.
Keep an eye on the clock.
You may have scheduled a meeting to fit within a specific time window, but meetings can easily go over time when people don’t stick to an agenda.Be mindful of the clock to ensure that a meeting never runs late or bleeds into the next scheduled task. Don’t let your boss get sidetracked by an overly chatty appointment. It’s your job to remind him that he has another appointment or task on the docket.
If a particularly important meeting cannot be halted so easily, snap into action to reconfigure the rest of the day. Figure out what other entries on the schedule can be moved around or even canceled to avoid wasting a minute of anyone’s time.
Leave time for lunch.
Getting the day’s work done may come first on any schedule, but you need to keep your tanks well-fueled to get you and your boss through your busy day. That means leaving some time in the schedule for a proper lunch. Ask your boss at what time of day she prefers to eat, and then block off at least 30 minutes in your shared calendar where she can’t be disturbed. Ideally, you’ll take your lunch break during this same window.
Find a system that works for both of you.
Make sure you get a sense of how your boss likes to prioritize duties and structure his day. If you ever have a question about which obligation is more important, just ask. Eventually, you’ll develop a shorthand for working with each other that will keep both of you on schedule.