This is for all those people in positions that are lucky enough to have an admin assistant (which I’ll refer to as an AA from now on).

Do you find that your calendar is booked solid?  Do you find that you do your most important work after work?  Is your life out of balance?

If you answered yes to any of these then you chances are you are not using your AA correctly.  Here are a few tips to help remedy the situation:

  • Plan your week together – hold a meeting every Monday morning to plan the manager’s calendar for the week. Plan for important work being done in business hours (not just meetings), and book it into the calendar.
  • If the AA is going to be booking meetings into your calendar, realize that the booking of your time is directly related to what you achieve and at what cost to your well-being – i.e. it is a strategic task. This is why you need to delegate this with clear guidelines in terms of:
  1.  The amount of time required for reactive work that must be left open (e.g. 30%, 40%, etc)? When this limit is reached, the AA considers the calendar to be full.
  2.  The criteria by which a meeting request is accepted. Avoid the criterion of “if the manager is not booked then I will accept the meeting”. This can lead to the manager being swamped working on the wrong things.
  • Don’t double handle email – if the AA takes care of an email the manager does not need to look at it. The most effective way to do this is for the manager to assume that anything marked as “read” need not be dealt with.
  • Ensure that you are able to easily locate documents. The manager who gives everything to the AA to file but cannot locate a document himself/herself is going to waste a lot of time. Spend the time up front designing an effective folder structure so that information is easy to locate by both parties.
  • Delegate the following to the AA:
  1.     Anything that the AA is able to do to an adequate standard
  2.     Anything repetitive that the AA can learn to do at an adequate standard

I sincerely hope these few simple tips help.

Russel Horwitz, Principal