When you’re a high-level executive assistant, no two days are the same. So it’s important to have a reliable system with an executive assistant daily checklist to keep you on track.
Having worked as an EA myself, and now specialising in hiring executive assistants for Australia’s leading employers, I have spent many years learning what makes an efficient executive assistant. I firmly believe that what you do daily is the key driver of success.
So I’ve created this executive assistant daily checklist to help EAs take charge of their day and focus on the important things that will help them perform at the high-level their executives expect. It covers four daily priorities:
- your morning routine
- your priorities
- your communications
- your evening routine
Executive assistant daily checklist #1 strict morning routine
Before you get stuck into deep work, you should have a 10 minute morning routine that sets your day up for success. Your routine should be carefully honed to ensure it sets a precedent for a positive, productive day. This routine should not work-related tasks; think of it as a warmup athletes do before the big game.
Consider adding these tasks to your daily morning routine:
- set up your workspace, remove any mess from the day prior and create a clutter-free harmonious workspace that is conducive to getting work done
- (if permitted in the workplace) burn essential oils that support your productivity and focus, such as peppermint, rosemary and lemon for mental sharpness
- fill your water bottle and have it ready on your desk so you keep hydrated during the day
- prepare your coffee, tea or energy drink
- write affirmations about how you are going to make today count or how you will make a difference today
- listen to a pump-up song that you know gets you motivated and ready for action - I like Brave by Sara Bareilles
Executive assistant daily checklist #2: managing priorities
It’s essential to check your executive’s inbox first thing in the morning, to see if anything urgent has arrived outside of office hours.
Processing correspondence, deciding what to action, what to discuss with your executive and what to file can be the bane of your existence, so it’s up to you to create systems to manage them effectively. A high-performing executive assistant should always be aiming for inbox zero. Filter emails into the right folders, set them into to-do and allocate tasks to your project management system (Slack, Asana, Monday, or whatever tool you need).
Once important emails have been dealt with, and others have been scheduled, take time for deep work.
Getting the most difficult project done first will give you the momentum you need. Most of us work best at the start of the day, and concentration flags by mid afternoon. So allocate your first working hours to tackling the bigger projects. Write that presentation, prepare the board meeting agenda or do anything else that’s really important.
Executive assistant daily checklist #3: executive communication
A business partner executive assistant is able to stay a few steps ahead of their executive. It’s your role to anticipate potential issues, and plan accordingly. The best way you can do this is to check in twice daily with your executive. The more frequent the check in, the shorter it can be. A 30-minute chat at the start of the day, and a 15-minute end of day report may be all that’s necessary— but this will depend greatly on your particular working relationship.
A strategic EA will be thinking of both the business direction and the executive’s particular KPIs, and will be prioritising time accordingly. You must understand the strategic goals of the organisation and how the executive is going to contribute, so you can then schedule time appropriately.
Categorise all enquiries, questions and issues using the ABCDE method:
- A tasks: these are the top three tasks that are your most valuable
- B tasks: these are the secondary priorities, that are nice to complete but not as important as A tasks
- C tasks: they need to get done eventually, but are not very important
- D tasks: they need doing, but not by you — delegate them to someone who can do it better, cheaper or faster
- E tasks: unnecessary tasks that can be eliminated from your to-do list
Executive Assistant Daily Checklist #4: end of work routine
Lastly, you need a powerful end-of-day routine that helps you mentally check out for the day, and set you up for another productive day tomorrow. A physical and digital declutter will help your future self start the next day with fewer distractions.
Many high-value EAs do everything on this list, at the end of every day:
- Tidy your desk
- File and sort emails and documents into the correct folders
- Allocate tasks using your preferred project management tool
- Write a brief end-of-day report for your executive
- Review your completed tasks and progress made on your action list
- Confront anything you have been putting off, using the ABCDE method
- If it’s a priority, allocate it for tomorrow’s deep work session
- Write tomorrow’s to-do list
- Allocate time in the diary for the to-do list, being realistic about how long each task will take
- Be grateful: message one or two co-workers to thank them for helping you today
Executive Assistant daily schedule
|*pre-work morning routine*||first thing|
|A tasks||Your most important work
The top three must-do tasks for the day
|*check in with your executive here*|
|B tasks||Also important tasks
(but not as vital as A tasks)
|C tasks||Needs to be done, but not a huge priority
Easy to complete, administrative tasks
|*check in with executive again here*|
|D & E tasks||Delegate to others
|Evening routine||Evening correspondence
Reply to all emails, voicemails and messages
Prepare your next day's schedule
Review your coming fortnight
|end of day|
Need more expert career advice for EAs? You may also like:
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