Whether your boss is an estate planning attorney, CPA, financial advisor or life insurance agent, chances are, he or she has an overwhelmingly busy calendar. From client meetings, phone calls, seminar presentations, conferences and CE programs to numerous projects to be completed, goals to be reached, and endless obligations to be met.
How do you organize, prioritize and manage it all while getting everything scheduled and done?
Ask for Assistance with Prioritizing
First, ask for assistance in prioritizing your tasks (and your boss’ tasks). Thankfully, most executives acknowledge that their assistants are juggling several tasks at one time and that the types of tasks and the level of priorities of those tasks are constantly changing. When priorities of tasks are constantly changing, it’s best for assistants to seek guidance on this directly from their boss to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Most assistants will find themselves in a bind when they thought one task was higher priority over another and it wasn’t and now the boss is upset because a much higher priority task was not completed on time. So, whenever you find yourself at odds about what to do first, second and third, take it up with the boss. Better yet, when you’re assigned a particular task, communicate with your boss at that time about what you’re working on and find out how time-sensitive or how important that task is. This way, there is no confusion. In order to do this, be sure to keep a running list of projects you are working on (or just hang on to your to-do lists) and use this in your meetings with your boss to determine the priority of unfinished tasks. It’s up to you to complete your tasks, but it’s up to your boss to help prioritize them.
Create a Calendar Template
Second, create and follow a calendar template for your boss. Determine what items your boss needs on his or her calendar and create a template that makes sense of when things need to be done. For example, it might make sense to hold all staff meetings on one day at the beginning of the week versus the end of the week. Your boss might need time set aside each week for client meetings, another block of time set aside to do research and development, perhaps some time each day to return phone calls or correspondence. Whatever that template may look like for your particular boss and his or her particular needs, determine what that looks like and lay out the template on his or her calendar – – and make sure you and the boss FOLLOW IT!
For example, my boss, Phil Kavesh, prefers to have a structured calendar template based on the things that need to get done each and every week. He holds staff meetings either on Mondays or Tuesdays, he holds seminars only on Tuesdays, Thursdays or some Saturdays, and he prefers to work on creative items (like marketing) only in the mornings. Phil likes Fridays to be “catch-up days”, where he can tie up any lose ends or to work on small items that he didn’t get to throughout the week with the flexibility to take that day off, if he feels the need to. He also likes the fourth week of each month to have no seminars. On the rare occasions that Phil has a client meeting, we have determined that these can only be scheduled on a day where he is already at the main office doing work and not at his satellite office doing research or creative work. With this calendar template, it is easy for us to gauge where to schedule different items, such as phone calls or projects that require consecutive days of work, plus it makes it difficult for Phil to interrupt his own schedule when he knows the game plan for each week.
The Fundamental Scheduling Rule
Last, but not least, maintain the fundamental rule: ALL scheduling must go through YOU!
You are the gate-keeper to your boss’ calendar, so all appointments, phone calls, meetings or other calendared items must be scheduled by you, his or her assistant. The more people and hands with access to calendaring an executive, the more of a nightmare it can become. And yes, this even includes your boss! It’s very easy for an executive to not recall what was discussed at a previous meeting about other priorities and calendar items that need to be arranged and then, just as you are away from your desk or in the process of arranging an important meeting, BAM! Someone has scheduled something and created a mess out of what you were working on. As assistants to a busy executive, we are fairly lucky that we aren’t asked to handle too many personal calendar items, such as scheduling doctor appointments and things like that. However, Phil still consults me when he is scheduling these kinds of personal items because he respects us as the one in charge and overseeing how his calendar works with his other priorities. It’s a system that works well and works best when everyone is on board and respects the power of maintaining (or messing) with your boss’ calendar.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristina Schneider is the current Executive Director of The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Pepperdine University in 2004 and was hired right out of college to work for the Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, coordinating and facilitating Philip Kavesh’s “Missing Link” Boot Camps while also providing administrative support to Mr. Kavesh as his Executive Assistant for over seven years. Through her direct hands-on experience in Mr. Kavesh’s law firm, Kristina has been able to assist numerous estate planning professionals through The Ultimate Estate Planner and, equally as important, many of their staff members, in the successful implementation of Ultimate Estate Planner’s products and systems. You can reach Kristina at (424) 247-9495 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.