The role of a PA or EA is constantly evolving but even so diary management continues to be a fundamental task. A good diary manager needs to decisive yet flexible. Below are some tips to help with your diary management:

• Clarify your boss’ preferences. You’ll encounter a wide range of personalities in your career as PA, and it’s vital that you understand how they vary.

•Use the “all day” appointment function to remind yourself about important events, like anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, conferences and other important activities that need to be taken into consideration, but don’t require a specific action. Take note of how this displays on different devices as different programmes use different formats, and if you cannot schedule other appointments alongside an all day appointment it will quickly become very disorganised. For those using Outlook diary management software this technique works well.

• Only schedule productive meetings and keep them within a specific time. Don’t agree with every meeting request that your boss receives. Only schedule meetings that are necessary and serve a purpose. If the meeting doesn’t appear to be productive, then don’t schedule it.

• Colour coding. This has the functional purpose of having a screen easier to read. Assigning colours to appointments means you can see at a glance what sort of day your boss has, whether anything needs to be re-arranged, whether you need to prepare an itinerary or travel arrangements for an offsite or whether you have a nice quiet day ahead.

• Travel smart. Including travel information in your calendar can help to keep you organised while you travel, and a tool like Tripit will do a lot of the work for you. Also, instead of traveling for meetings, consider scheduling conference calls or online meetings to save even more time.

• RSVP. If your boss has stated that they want to attend a certain appointment, that appointment is going to need a response, so you’re going to have to RSVP. Depending on the importance of the appointment, you can either give a definite response by saying your boss will be in attendance, or if you want to keep some flexibility in the diary, your response can be that they ‘hope to attend’.

• Recurring meetings. If you have a weekly, fortnightly or monthly meeting, or a yearly occurrence, Outlook will automatically update this for you without you having to go in an enter each individual appointment. Simply use the recurrence button from within the appointment.

In conclusion…

In today’s busy workplaces it is more demanding and more stressful than ever before; if you are a sole trader or SME then you’ll be quite aware that things can get a little out of hand if you don’t plan properly! One tool has become indispensable when it comes to time and resource management and that’s a well-kept diary.