How to Create a Gatekeeper or Protector of Time with an Executive Assistant

Delegation Tips

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Entrepreneurs, founders, and business coaches–our clients, are always the first to sacrifice their time. How can you effectively gain time and avoid burnout with the help of an Executive Assistant? 

My name is Jenna Spencer, and I am the Founder and Visionary for AssistPro. I found my calling in helping entrepreneurs find freedom by taking control of their schedules and learning to delegate effectively. In this article, I will explain the art of planning ahead for schedule changes with your Executive Assistant, actionable steps that you can do today, and 3 key pieces of advice to successfully implement a gatekeeper or protector of time– for your business and mental health!

Stop the Burn 

You can probably relate to the phrase “good help is hard to find” as it has never been more relevant. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021, and the trend is continuing in 2022. 

Right now there is a lot of burning the candle at both ends for leaders because we are having to do more with less.

Plan Ahead for Schedule Changes

The temptation to implement changes fast causes many entrepreneurs to waste time running in circles with something that could have been done in a slow and steady approach. Tackling new ideas in phases is always going to play out better than ripping the band-aid off your current calendar. 

Sometimes putting in a gatekeeper isn’t putting in all of these calendar changes right out of the gate, it can take 6 to 12 months of actually building into that ideal schedule. It’s not about ripping the band-aid off and making big changes.

You need to ease your people into that communication system and get into a rhythm. A lot of the time you should be talking about changes you are looking at making in the next quarter, not the next week. 

Your Energy and Time are Worth It

Maximizing your time is worth its weight in gold. Especially true today if you find yourself working with a skeleton crew out of necessity and a lack of employees. 

What is it that you want but that you aren’t able to have right now because of this situation? Ask yourself, how much is your time really worth? That’s what you are getting back when you effectively delegate to your Executive Assistant. 

You’re getting back time to do your best and highest level work, which is what we all need leaders to do. 

The longer you stay in that frustrating place of trying to do all of the tasks yourself that should be delegated, to that degree you are not getting back the time for you to do what you love and to help your business grow. 

The 3 Key Pillars to Protecting Your Time

I advise our clients to follow these 3 key pieces of advice to successfully implement a gatekeeper or protector of time with an Executive Assistant:

  1. Tell your Executive Assistant what you would like your ideal schedule to look like. 

As an entrepreneur, it’s kind of a mental barrier as we are used to being slaves to our business. Are back-to-back meetings working for you? Think through your current schedule and how it has or hasn’t worked out well for you. 

What would your ideal schedule actually look like? Perhaps this is how many hours you’d like to work each week, or perhaps avoiding meetings on Mondays. 

For example, I don’t like to do any client-facing meetings on Mondays– I prefer to do that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, because I don’t want to get all dressed up and ready on a Monday– I asked myself how I can be on my A-game.

What would help you show up on your A-game? Let your Executive Assistant know. 

2. Actually letting go. Let your Executive Assistant manage the calendar.

This means not replying to things and moving things around. Resist the urge to do these seemingly small and quick tasks yourself. Take full advantage of your Executive Assistant’s services by letting the assistant manage the calendar. 

Also, let your Executive Assistant manage the communication. 

If someone emails and you’re like ‘oh, I will just work that in…’ it is a habit change, you need to stop and let them manage the communication. 

The person you are communicating with doesn’t know that you are in another meeting, but when your assistant is communicating on your behalf as a gatekeeper, they create that buffer for you. Let them manage that communication and work it like a puzzle.

3. Let your Executive Assistant manage your time. 

Are you following the processes you wanted to follow, or have you fallen back to doing the same things and sacrificing your time again? Entrepreneurs sometimes set expectations for our team or our assistant but fail to follow through with ourselves. 

It works really well when the assistant and client are on the same page as far as expectations go. Then the client can alert the assistant and vice versa to follow the agreed-upon processes.

Take Action: Something Executive Assistants Can Do to Help Their Clients

Your Executive Assistant can implement a checks and balances system on your calendar. This is something we do a lot at AssistPro. Instead of the assistant just putting all of the things on the calendar, they utilize a color-coding system with a key. 

This way, when the assistant does something in the calendar, it is a very obvious color and you are both aware of it and know what to do.  

Trust the Process

All leaders need to realize the importance of delegating and having an assistant. If you trust the process it really is a game-changer.

So many people stay in the day-to-day grind and they don’t think about what they want to create for themselves, which is the best thing you can do as a leader, to know what you want, what’s next, and to be intentional about your business.

The sooner you let someone else manage the calendar the sooner you can start working towards your ideal calendar.