Calendar Management For Executive Assistants to Save Time & Stress
How much of your day do you spend on calendar management?
We hear you, and we know you’re way too busy actually managing calendars to research ways you might be able to save time on managing calendars. Plus, it seems like good old organization skills can only get you so far when you’re taking on the modern calendar, whether it’s for an executive, a conference room, or an entire team.
That’s why we came up with a list to make calendar management for executive assistants a breeze. These tools and strategies supplement your innate skills, save you time and stress, and make creating calendar magic seem effortless.
Many of these pointers came straight from our Facebook groups for Office Managers and Executive Assistants! See what nuggets of wisdom our community has to offer and jump into the conversation.
The timeless practice of color coding never fails to make any calendar easier to understand—and less overwhelming to everyone who’s looking at it. It might take some time to develop a color system that works, but you can choose a palette you love to make the process a little more fun.
Key benefit: By color coding your calendars, you’re not making any huge changes to your calendering process. You won’t need to explain new tools or systems; you’re just making the calendars you already use easier to view and understand.
How to try it:
- Review calendars and establish your “buckets.” Each bucket will get its own color. (Some buckets include internal, client, personal, recurring, reminder, and travel.)
- Review buckets with your teams and executives. The color coordination won’t work if no one understands the categories you’ve chosen.
- Color code your calendar, whether it’s online, in an app, or on paper.
- Create a quick-reference rules sheet to make the color-coding process easier on yourself and anyone else who helps with calendar management.
Block off time for calendar management
If random spurts of calendar management always eat up your day, then start strategically setting aside times to focus on nothing but calendar management.
Key benefit: Time blocking will make calendar management seem less chaotic because you’ll be able to get everything done at once instead of operating in random spurts.
How to try it: Block off a time when the office isn’t too busy, such as Friday afternoon or Monday morning. Use this time to look at all the calendars you manage. Create a quick calendar summary that you can share with others or just keep it to yourself; the summary is especially helpful if you have multiple calendars on your plate.
Let everyone know about your time-blocking plans and establish deadlines for calendaring requests. Anything that doesn’t get to you by the deadline, unless it is truly urgent, will not be processed until the following week.
Have calendar management meetings
Similar to the time-blocking strategy, calendar meetings help you squeeze a week of piecemeal emails and requests into a meeting that, with hope, lasts less than an hour.
Key benefit: These meetings streamline calendar management.
How to try it: Use your calendar management skills to find a time that works for everyone, set up a recurring meeting, and see how the process goes.
Use Calendly to set up availability preferences for your executives and teams. Instead of calling or emailing you, requesters can view your team’s availability and select convenient times.
Key benefit: Calendly removes the need for the availability and scheduling questions you used to field throughout the day. (Just picture your clean, manageable inbox without all those questions.)
How to use it: Get started on Calendly for free, set up some rules, share calendars, and watch as calendar-related communications shrink to manageable levels.
Know when not to share
If you’ve had to deal with conflicts and competing communications because too many people have input into your executive, meeting, or conference room calendars, then don’t be afraid to take control. Insist that all requests go through you, and avoid double bookings, confusion, and lots of needless communication.
Key benefit: Calendar centralization will save you time, stress, and lots of communication chaos. It will also show off your take-charge attitude.
How to try it: Create a mini-pitch for leadership explaining how much smoother the calendering process will be for everyone involved if you could have complete control. Ask them to communicate the change to the rest of the team so you don’t have to ruffle any feathers.
Take advantage of your in-house IT department
If you have an in-house IT department, then take advantage of their skills and build a customized calendar. The calendar can live on your public-facing website or an intranet; maybe it can even be interactive.
Key benefit: Customization. If you’re always lamenting how the online tools available don’t quite meet your needs, then this could be the perfect option.
How to try it: Identify all the needs you have for an online calendar and take it to your IT department to see what magic they can work. Go in with a full list of features you want—it’s no big deal if they can’t accommodate all your requests.
Print and post calendars
If you don’t want to get too techy, you can also print shared calendars and post them everywhere—in bathrooms, on doors, in the breakroom. You can even print and distribute copies to small teams or individual executives. Print-outs aren’t fancy, but many people still love being able to glance at one simple piece of paper to get an idea of what their day has in store.
Key benefit: Printed calendars supplement your other calendar communications efforts. Plus, printing could help important schedules stand out.
How to try it: If you have a printer and tape, you’re good to go. If you have a design team that can make your calendar pop, enlist their help to attract more eyeballs to important calendars.
Integrate your calendar with Slack
Key benefit: Integrated applications allow users to manage calendars within Slack, so everything can happen in just one place. (Forget about multiple tabs and that second screen you were thinking about getting for calendar management.) With a variety of Slack calendar applications to choose from, you’ll find one that meets your needs. Some of the applications even source events right from your calendar and post them on Slack for everyone to see.
How to try it:
- Create a new workplace.
- Interface with the Slack Bots to figure out how everything works.
- Browse Slack calendar apps to see which one is right for you.
- Connect that app and go!
BambooHR allows you to create an informative profile for everyone you work with, so it’s perfect for managing birthday calendars (and referencing favorite treats), work anniversary calendars, time-off calendars, and more.
Key benefit: You don’t have to wait around for busy employees to give you the answer you need to move ahead with calendars; BambooHR puts all the information you need at your fingertips.
How to try it:
Start a free trial and see how BambooHR can make your life easier.
If you move forward, you’ll need to dedicate some time to the initial setup—employees will have to enter lots of information up front.
Try write and wipe boards
Write and wipe boards help small offices streamline calendar management and even reduce some emailing and communications.
Key benefit: Simplicity.
How to try it:
- Get a write and wipe calendar board or draw your own calendar template.
- After your Monday status meetings, have everyone hang around to write down meetings and important events, including birthdays, vacation days, and doctor’s appointments.
- Set and communicate a deadline for adding things to the calendar. After the deadline, grab the board and record all events into your online calendaring tool. Keep the board posted so people can reference it as they walk through the door.
Get more out of Google Sheets
Google Sheets may be perfect for expense tracking and reporting, but they’re also perfect for calendar management.
Key benefit: Google Sheets are free and easy to use. They also allow people to work in one spreadsheet at the same time, a collaborative feature perfect for conference rooms, team calendars, and more.
If you have to handle weekly calendars, you can send a link to the team and have everyone input key dates. Executives can insert comments on changes and questions within the sheet. You can even use a Google Sheet to manage meeting requests; just list available times and have people insert their names in the neighboring cells to take a time slot. Changes save immediately, so anyone concurrently reserving time will see the update, and you won’t get double bookings.
Use Basecamp to take requests and avoid needless follow-ups
Known for project management, Basecamp can also help you with calendar management. The tool helps users perfect the art of transparent communication—you can take requests and keep the requestor updated on the status of the request so they don’t call, message, and email to ask about it.
Key benefit: Status updates reduce time wasted on telling people the status of their calendar request. That means you’ll have more time to actually complete the calendar requests.
How to try it: Get started on Basecamp and then communicate that you’re “piloting” a new calendar request system. Have people submit their requests to you in Basecamp, add then use the “to-dos added & completed” function to share progress.
Use Wunderlist for task management and calendar syncing
If you’re tired of managing to-do lists and calendars, then the Wunderlist Calendar Feed will make your life easier by marrying the two items.
Key benefit: You no longer have to remember to manually add important to-dos to your calendars because Wunderlist syncing has you covered.
How to try it: Get a free Wunderlist app, sync your calendar, and start getting more done. You can use the tool to manage your team and executive calendars as well as your own. You can even assign due dates and reminders. So if you assist an executive who has a habit of forgetting meetings and tasks, the reminders feature will help you provide fast, easy, and unobtrusive nudges.
Use Robin conference room scheduling software
Robin makes managing conference room calendars easier than ever.
Key benefit: You can set up the tool to allow employees to search for rooms based on availability, amenities, and location. You can view everything that’s happening, but you no longer have to tediously search for rooms, since employees can do it themselves.
How to use it:
- Start a free trial or schedule a demo.
- Tell employees you’re launching a pilot program.
- Let the program run, then send out a survey to see what everyone thinks about the tool.
See what Evite can bring to RSVP tracking
Evite offers far more than cutesie party invitations for your kid…or your cat. The paperless invitation service makes it more fun to track event responses and communicate about your meetings.
Key benefit: User-friendly RSVP tracking.
How to use it: Just sign in, create an invitation, send it out, and track it.
Keep track of everyone’s time lines with Monday
Monday provides an easy way for you to manage dates, timelines, and tasks for everyone on your calendar management list.
Key benefit: Monday lets you get a big-picture look at your team’s workflow so you can see where calendars and timelines might need to be tweaked. You don’t even need to send a single email or host a single status meeting to know where all the timelines stand.
How to use it: Just create a free account, invite team members, add projects and timelines, and start seamlessly managing calendars and workflows.
Use high-tech tools like Steelcase RoomWizard
This internet-based room scheduling system aims to solve all the problems you face trying to manage how everyone in your office reserves meeting spaces.
Key benefit: The system comes with a simple touch screen you can mount outside of rooms. It shines a red light to indicate a taken room and a green light to indicate an open room.
How to use it: Check out the product specifications page to determine if RoomWizard is right for your office.
The Boomerang Calendar system helps you add meetings to a Google Calendar right within your email.
Key benefit: One-click meeting scheduling you can complete in a single email.
How to use it: If you use Google Calendar for your office communications, then you can just download Boomerang and start using it today.
If you ever need to add fun events to the calendar as part of your calendar management duties, then you need to bookmark this website.
Key benefit: The website provides a reason to celebrate any day you can think of. (Did you know that May 25th is actually Towel Day?)
How to use it: Pull up this website the next time your boss reminds you of those “office cheer” emails you’re supposed to be sending.
What calendar management tools make your life easier? Let us know in the comments below!