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18 Tips to Organise Your Boss
Organise your boss and you will organise yourself - Personal Assistants know that this is a fact of life. When the boss is disorganised, it negatively impacts his PA, so it helps to find ways to turn things around. Why not request a meeting with your boss and suggest some or all of the following tips and advice for managing the boss.
This is also a great way to show how you add value to your position. Keep an accurate record of the changes you implement and the impact it has on overall productivity: present the details at your next performance review to ace your appraisal.
1. Weekly Meetings - Agree a time on Monday mornings for a meeting to discuss important issues; this presents a good opportunity to organise your boss. Print off the boss's diary and discuss his priorities for the week. Find out which clients and issues you need to flag up that week. This will help you to decide which meetings require a pre-meeting before the main meeting. It will also give you more confidence to delegate straightforward tasks to your boss' deputies. Ask your boss to cc you on all important issues.
2. Bring Forward Folder (b/f) A bring forward system is an efficient way to organise your boss. Invest in a concertina folder, labelled with the days of the month, then ask your boss to give you any papers that need to be brought forward.
For instance, if your boss has just sent an email which needs to be followed up in 10 days time, ask him to forward a copy of the email to you, stating when he would like it brought forward to. File the email in the appropriate slot in the bring forward file. Alternatively, he could write the words b/f on a hardcopy and the date it should be brought forward to. Check your bring forward file every morning and leave the appropirate brought forward document(s) in his In-tray.
3. Monitor Email - Ask your boss to give you the necessary permissions to monitor and respond to his email. This will allow you to pick up meeting requests and act on them. You should also forward on email as appropriate, delegate work on his behalf, and set up pre-meetings without being prompted. This is a huge time-saver for your boss. Be sure to copy your boss in on everything.
4. De-clutter The Boss's Inbox - When faced with multiple copies of the same email, delete the original email and previous emails from your boss's Inbox. (Before deleting, make sure the discussion thread contains all the original attachments.)
5. Colour Code Email - Always mark email that the boss has not yet read as 'unread'. Flag emails you have read/actioned with a colour code. Use a separate code for email that need your boss's immediate attention. It is advisable to print off urgent email and leave them on his desk in a folder marked urgent (as opposed to his In Tray).
6. Electronic Folders - Clean up your boss's electronic folders. Agree a system for filing to his electronic folders. Decide when something should be filed in both hardcopy and electronic form.
7. Streamline Meetings - Where possible, reduce one hour meetings to 50 minutes. This should free up a couple of hours a week in the boss's diary.
8. 30 Minute Meetings - Book more 30 minute meetings. Thirty minutes is not a lot of time, but it's better than nothing; it will focus the minds of the participants.
9. Use Teleconferencing - Time spent travelling to and from meetings can really eat into the boss's time. If possible, set up a teleconference or videoconference. This also saves on travel costs.
10. Breakfast Meetings - Set up more breakfast meetings. This adds time to the boss's day because of the early start, and it's one less meeting slot to worry about. Breakfast with a client at a nearby hotel will set the mood for the day.
11. 1-2-1 Meetings - Find out if your boss's weekly one to one meetings with his direct reports can be changed to bi-monthly 1-2-1's. He may decide that some of his direct reports no longer need close supervision.
12. In Tray Time - Another great way to organise your boss is to set aside Friday afternoons as In-tray time: avoid setting up meetings for this period. When combined with the above time saving tips, your boss should gain sufficient time in his diary to make real progress with his paperwork. This time period should be viewed as a do not disturb period.
13. Use Task Requests - Use task requests in Microsoft Outlook or other email programme to assign tasks for your boss to complete. When setting the deadline, use pop up reminders to prompt him to complete the tasks.
14. Improve Filing System - If necessary, reorganise the filing system to make it easier for your boss to find papers when you are not around.
15. Papers For Meetings - When assembling papers for meetings, go through the meeting agenda carefully; write each agenda item number on a Post-It Tab and stick it down the side of the corresponding document. If there is more than one document for an agenda item, check the agenda for the order of discussion. Assemble all the papers in the correct sequence and clip them together. Place them in a pocket folder with a label showing the day and date of meeting; start and finish time; title of meeting, room number and location/address. This will help the boss to be organised at meetings.
16. Keep Expenses Up-to-date - Agree with your boss that he will hand you his business expenses at your weekly briefing meeting. It's better to complete expenses claims weekly, while details are still fresh in your boss' mind. This will also reduce your workload, because there's nothing worst than having six month's worth of expenses dumped on your desk for processing.
17. Update Contacts Regularly - Updating your boss's contact database regularly is an important aspect of keeping him organised. Agree with your boss that you will collect business cards from him at your weekly briefings meeting, or sooner if need be. Update the Contacts database as soon as possible and let your boss know, so that he can synchronise his Blackberry with the updated data.
18. Use Tools Like Microsoft NetMeeting - Microsoft NetMeeting is a meeting space that allows users to conduct meetings virtually via a website. If you would like to save your boss money and time that would otherwise have been spent travelling, find out if a NetMeeting is an acceptable alternative to the usual format. NetMeeting provides audio, video, file sharing/editing, conferencing, an interactive whiteboard, and more. More on NetMeetings.
For more useful tips for Executive Personal Assistants, join our "PA Tips" Group on Linked In.
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