In this post I am assuming your Executive has a task list that they use every day to get through their work! Hopefully this task list is available for you to access on a daily basis and you have the rights to edit and update the list. Ideally the list should be on the same email system that you use to manage their inbox and schedule (Microsoft Outlook for example). If this is not the case it might be worth suggesting to your boss that you work together on their to-do list. For assistants this is an area that can prove really useful for their bosses by saving them time and making them more productive. Here are my top ten do’s and don’ts for managing your boss’s task list:
Do complete as many tasks, on their behalf, as you can. They could have very simple tasks that you can complete and tick off
Don’t forget to add tasks with deadlines to your Executive’s calendar. Make sure they have enough time in their schedule to complete the work.
Do suggest apps and other sources that can help your Executive stay on top of their to do list. Evernote, Wunderlust, Any.do and Todoist are all available on iPhones and iPads.
Don’t let your boss get away with a long task list. The list has to be actioned on a regular basis otherwise what is the point of having it?! During your regular 1-2-1 meetings review the list together and ensure that the last task is always actioned or time is allocated in your Exec’s schedule to complete the work.
Do help your Executive break large projects down into manageable tasks. Remember to take the tasks that you know you can do yourself. If you find vague tasks such as ‘clean out desk and files’ ask them to clarify what this means and suggest you do this instead.
Don’t delete your Executive’s tasks once they are completed. Instead move them to a ‘completed’ list so that your Executive knows what they have accomplished. If you have completed the tasks on their behalf also move this to their completed list and keep a note for yourself too.
Do help your Executive prioritise their tasks. The most important work should be at the top of the list.
Don’t let your boss get behind on their task list because they are waiting for information from other members of staff. You can chase these colleagues and give them deadlines, particularly if the task has been on the list for a while.
Do remember that it takes time to effectively work together on a task list. Always take time to discuss the list in your catch up meetings, communicate with each other when tasks have been completed and when new or urgent tasks are added.
Don’t forget to include a time estimate on each task. This will help your Executive plan their day, especially if they have a few urgent tasks that need to be completed asap.