THE EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Time management is perhaps the most important aspect of
your job as Exec. Without good time management, both your Boss and you will
struggle to keep afloat in a very high paced, dynamic environment. Sure, there
are other very important aspects of your job, like protocol, correspondence,
etc., but without good time management you will not have time to dedicate to
these other important areas. Plus, you probably have a family or a personal
life which, for your own well being, you need to devote some time to nourishing.
Therefore, this proven method of time management is
presented as a departure point for you to develop a system which works well for
your Boss and you. Keep in mind that each Boss is unique and may or may not
like this method. So, be prepared to modify the system as needed for your
The easiest way to manage your Boss’ and your time is to
be organized and have your office management processes on automatic. One of the
keys to accomplishing this is to keep his/her desk and paperwork flow
organized. This method of time management centers around the use of designated
folders placed strategically and at the proper time on the Boss’ desk. Figure 1
depicts a sample desk layout; however, you should modify it to suit your Boss’
desires and available materials. Below is a description of each folder (the
colors are just a suggestion):
HOT Folder: This folder is red. It contains
paperwork and other items that need the Boss’ attention NOW. Items such as
urgent or higher headquarters’ correspondence, personal letters addressed to
the Boss, leave and earning statements or other items of personal interest
are placed in this folder. Also, include answers to the Boss’
questions coming from the staff. Have this folder on the Boss’ desk when
he/she arrives in the mornings, then replenish it and have it on the desk
when he/she returns from lunch. This is the only folder that goes on the
desk twice each day (or as necessary), at the beginning and after
lunch—because it contains “do it today” material.
SIGNATURE Folder: This folder is green. It
contains ALL correspondence requiring the Boss’ signature block and
signature. Place this folder on the desk so it is there when he/she arrives
in the mornings.
COORDINATION Folder: This folder is blue. It
contains ALL correspondence and staff work on which the Boss needs to
coordinate. Many of the items in this folder will include a Staff Summary
Sheet. Place this folder on the Boss’ desk so it is there when he/she
arrives in the mornings.
INVITATION Folder: This folder is blue. It
contains ALL invitations the Boss receives to attend special functions,
i.e., ceremonies, social events, civic events, etc. Place this folder on
the Boss’ desk so it is there when he/she arrives in the mornings.
READ FILE Folder: This folder is yellow. It
contains incoming/outgoing message traffic, outgoing correspondence signed
by key staff members (ask the Boss what level he/she wants included),
Earlybird, newsletters, and any other information the Boss wants included.
This folder should be read as part of the first order of business. Place
this folder on the Boss’ desk so it is there when he/she arrives in the
mornings. The basis for this is to get messages and other items out to the
individuals with the Boss’ notes and questions. When the Boss is finished
with this folder, you should route it to key staff, place it in a convenient
location or trash the unwanted material.
READ-AHEAD Folder: This folder is blue. It
contains information on upcoming internal meetings. The Exec should obtain
Read-Ahead folders no less than 24-hours in advance of meetings to give the
Boss time to review the material. Whenever possible, the Exec should obtain
Read-Ahead folders for external meetings. Place these folders on the Boss’
desk so they are there when he/she returns from lunch.
Another key to good time management is keeping your Boss on
schedule. You may have to politely interrupt the Boss to remind him/her of an
upcoming appointment, or you may have to contact via cellular or LMR when the
Boss is away from the office. Approach this issue cautiously, and clear it with
the Boss ahead of time how he/she would like you to handle such situations.
Never embarrass the Boss; be low-keyed (use brief notes) and diplomatic in your