EA Tips

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Executives and Assistants

When we’re talking to executives and assistants, we frequently get asked at Esper about the tricks really amazing executive assistants (EAs) use to make their workflow more efficient and maintain the highest quality in their work. After talking to more than fifty executives and EAs, we noticed several recurring tactics the best EAs use and several niche tricks we think more EAs should consider adopting. Whether you’re a new EA looking to launch your career or a seasoned EA hoping to pick up a new tactic or two, we hope these seven habits help you to be more productive.

1. Copy and paste the email thread into calendar events
By putting the related email thread directly into the calendar event, both the EA and Exec have the context they need about the meeting wither while scheduling it or right before they walk into the meeting itself.

2. Reserve offered meeting times by putting a “HOLD” event on the calendar
This ensures no offered times are accidentally filled while you are waiting for a response.

3. Use labels/folders to Signify the Status of a Task
Because of the volume of emails assistants receive throughout the day, many EAs will try to keep their inbox as clean and organized as possible. One easy way to do this is to create labels or folders such as “waiting on response”, “in progress” or “done” so you can easily keep track of where you are on each task and what most urgently needs your attention.

4. Some executives will use signatures or key words in the body as an indicator to the EA of the importance of the meeting
For example “-J” “-Jane” “~Jane” and “–Jane” could be codes for the length and type of meeting the EA should schedule. This saves the exec the time of sending a second email to the EA while being discreet about the status of the person being emailed.

5. Send questions to your executive in multiple choice format
The easier you make it for your exec to answer your question, the faster you’re likely to get a response. It’s best when the question can be kept to a yes or no answer so you don’t run into the problem of your exec responding “yes” to a question that requires her to pick a, b, or c.

6. Send reminders to all meeting attendees
The best EAs always re confirm a meeting or send a meeting reminder about 24 hours before the event. A meeting can’t be productive if the attendees don’t show up!

7. Use duplicate calendar events to keep private information private
Execs want to know information about the person they’re meeting, but they don’t want people to know their EA reminded them. EAs can create two events; one on their own calendar that all the attendees are invited to, and another on the executive’s calendar that only they see. This way they can give different information to different people.

How do you maximize your productivity at work? Let us know in the comments!


5 thoughts on “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Executives and Assistants

  1. Maria Green says:

    Everything above is important, however I don’t believe they are the most important – to me, one of the most important and considerate things you can do is to never book meetings back-to-back for your manager, always leave a 15 minute gap, this gives them a chance for either a small over-run on a meeting, quick refresh over next meeting materials or a comfort break. Why make their lives even more difficult than they already are, plus they will really appreciate your thoughtfulness – it also gives them time to get their own coffee/water so that it is that you are not alway expected to do it


  2. Steph Shjar says:

    All great points! I need help figuring what to delegate to the office admin/receptionist as I have too much on my plate these days. Anyone have ideas on little things I should pass on that become time consuming tasks?


  3. Danielle Spielman says:

    I always input all travel into my executives calendar from the travel desk and highlighted in red so he sees at a glance his travel arrangements. In the subject line I put the airline, flight number, and confirmation so he can see without opening the calendar item if not necessary.


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