Strategically Managing Your Executive’s Time

As an Assistant, one of your primary responsibilities is to help your Executive manage their time strategically. This is a crucial part of the role and can be quite time-consuming. However, when done effectively, it adds an incredible amount of value. You can ensure that your Executive is on task, attending the right meetings, and spending their time on the most important activities. This not only helps them be more productive at work but also gives them time to plan and spend time with their family and pursue their passions outside of work. In this article, we will explore some tactics that you can use to strategically managing your Executive’s time.

The Ideal Workweek

The ideal workweek is a brilliant planning tool that you can use with your Executive to create a starting point for managing their time. While it’s true that there’s never an ideal week due to the fast pace of work and the constant emergence of urgent matters, having an ideal workweek plan in place can bring more order to your executive’s day and your day. It helps your executive and their team understand what they are working on and how their projects fit into your executive’s time. This reduces the need for you to constantly put out fires and manage a stressed, burnt-out executive.

To create an ideal workweek, start by understanding everything your Executive does. What are their main priorities, tasks, objectives, and primary responsibilities? Once you have a clear picture of what takes up your Executive’s time, you can begin to batch similar activities together. This is known as mega batching, and it involves grouping similar tasks and activities together and working through them in a set period. This approach helps your executive focus on one thing at a time, which has been proven to increase productivity.

Front Stage, Backstage, and Offstage Tasks

Michael Hyatt, in his book Free to Focus, suggests dividing your executive’s time across three broad areas: front-stage tasks, backstage tasks, and offstage tasks.

  1. Front Stage Tasks: These are the critical functions of your executive’s role that deliver results. These are the tasks that your executive is paid to do and should be the primary focus of their time.
  2. Backstage Tasks: These are the tasks needed to make the front-stage activities happen. They usually involve delegating, automating, preparing, developing, collaborating, and other similar activities. These tasks are important but not urgent, and they often get left behind. However, they are necessary for your executive to shine in their front-stage tasks.
  3. Offstage Tasks: This is the time your Executive spends with their friends and family away from work, doing things that bring them joy. This time needs to be guarded carefully.

Theming Your Executive’s Week

Theming your Executive’s week involves dividing the week into themes and allocating each day a theme. For example:

  • Monday: People days – meetings with your executive’s team, solving people’s problems, and allowing for open-door collaboration (front-stage activities).
  • Tuesday: Preparation days – getting ahead on reports, brainstorming sessions, reviewing documents, and planning (backstage activities).
  • Wednesday: Client and key stakeholder days – presentations and meeting prep (front-stage tasks).
  • Thursday: Product days – marketing and communications of the products and working with the product teams (front-stage tasks).
  • Friday: Deep thinking days – focusing on growth and the company’s culture or departments (backstage tasks).

Theming your executive’s week establishes a rhythm of focus and attention and helps your executive focus on a series of similar activities across the day.

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Productivity Zone vs. Drudgery Zone

Michael Hyatt also suggests dividing your executive’s tasks into four zones: the drudgery zone, the disinterested zone, the distraction zone, and the desire zone.

  1. Drudgery Zone: Tasks that your executive has no interest in or considers a chore. These tasks should be delegated, automated, or eliminated.
  2. Disinterested Zone: Tasks that your executive is good at but has little interest in. These tasks should be delegated to other team members.
  3. Distraction Zone: Tasks that your executive likes to do but don’t move their goals and objectives forward. These tasks should be delegated to those who can complete them faster or produce higher-quality results.
  4. Desire Zone: Tasks where your executive’s passion and proficiency intersect. This is where your executive should be spending most of their time.

Strategically managing your Executive’s time is a crucial part of your role as an assistant. By creating an ideal workweek, dividing tasks into front-stage, backstage, and offstage tasks, theming your Executive’s week, and focusing on the desire zone, you can help your executive be more productive and focused.

If you’re an Assistant looking to further enhance your skills in managing your executive’s time strategically, consider enrolling in the Effective Calendar Management Online Course. This course will provide you with the tools and techniques you need to effectively manage your executive’s calendar and ensure that they are spending their time on the most important activities.