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Executive Assistant Tools and Tips for Organisational Perfection 2023

In this video, Alicia Fairclough shares the tools she uses to stay on top of her very busy to-do list. 


First up, we have the calendar. My calendar needs to be perfect or else there is chaos and the most valuable tip I can give you is to block realistic time frames. I can confidently say that most execs underestimate how long things take. They never want to factor in buffer time, which they always need. They rarely want to account for transport delays which are inevitable. I trust you get my drift here. Most things take longer than you think they will. The better you get at estimating how long things will take, the better your schedule will be. 

To help me with scheduling meetings, I use Calendly. I still find it the best scheduling tool on the market for what I need.  

Meetings and Actions

The second tip I have is mastering taking live minutes, notes and actions. Board level minutes are a whole topic of their own. Today I’m focusing on taking day to day notes and actions. 

There are lots of benefits to taking live notes. Of course the main one is accuracy. You’re not going to forget if you’re doing it on the go. Even better if you’re doing it on a  screen that everyone can see because then you know everyone is on the same page. 

Taking and distributing actions while you’re in a meeting is a big time saver. There is a Google Chrome extension I’ve been using to do this. It’s called Hybryd and yes, they have sponsored EA How To in the past, which I’m extremely grateful for but no this isn’t a sponsored message either. 

While I’m in the meeting, I take notes under the appropriate agenda item which is displayed on the screen and I tag specific attendees with their actions. The notes and actions are then emailed to everyone with the click of a button. 

Get it now while it’s free because it won’t be free forever. 

Social Pilot

The next productivity tool I use and certainly one that I can’t live without is a social media scheduling tool. I produce a lot of content across a lot of platforms and the ability to schedule it in advance is absolutely essential at this point. 

I’ve used several tools in the past. I used Buffer for a long time and I was also on Meet Edgar a while ago. These days I’m using Social Pilot. 

If you’re responsible for social media, a scheduling tool is really important and saves you loads of time and energy. 

In terms of creating content, I’m all about Canva which we can also consider a productivity tool given it makes creating content incredibly easy and efficient. 

Inbox Management

Next up, we need to talk about inbox management. If there is one thing that would help absolutely everyone on the planet with productivity, I think it might well be having a great inbox management system. 

What makes a great inbox management system? Using it. Consistently. The best system, is the system you use. 

Maintaining a clean inbox is really important. It ensures key stakeholders are responded to, it ensures nothing is overlooked and it’s important for your sanity. 

I don’t get too fancy when it comes to inbox management but there is one extension I use. I’ve mentioned it before. I use Mailbutler. Mailbutler does a lot of things but I use it for 2 main reasons. 

One is templates. I have a bunch of email response templates saved that I can use and adapt with the click of a button. This is really efficient when you’re replying to a lot of emails. Loads of them have a pretty standard response and you can just fill in the blanks. 

The other thing I like is that you can store and switch between multiple fancy email signatures. This is great for people managing different inboxes, perhaps multiple businesses or multiple execs. 

And with Mailbutler I can also see if my email has been opened. So that person claiming they didn’t get your message about that thing they needed to do. It’s not gonna fly. 

A little bit of shameless self promotion. I have put together over 80 email response templates for assistants. It’s called What To Say When… Recommended responses to common and not so common emails received by Executive Assistants. You’ll find it on 

While we’re talking about email responses, it would be remiss of me to overlook ChatGPT. 

ChatGPT is a hot topic right now. If you’re not familiar, it's an AI tool and you can play with it for free at the moment. 

It does a pretty amazing job at writing replies to emails. Go and experiment with it. 

Business Binder

The next tool we need to talk about is having Business Binder that is regularly updated. I’ve always done mine in an A-Z format. Your Business Binder contains all of the information necessary to do your job. 

When I’m adding information to my binder, I think of it in terms of the bus factor. If I were hit by a bus tomorrow and someone needed to take over from me with absolutely no notice, what would they need to know? 

From how to operate the equipment in the conference rooms and what password manager I use to a list of all board members and their assistants and instructions for office visitors, it’s all in the binder and it’s all up to date. 

You can do this yourself but if you would like a template, you’ll find it in the EA How To Plus Members portal. 


Moving on now to staying on top of tasks. Where do you keep your never ending to do list? How do you stay on top of all of the things you need to do and chase? 

I still use Trello. I created a mini course that goes deep on exactly how I use Trello. 

But once again, the best system, is the system you use. 

I have a friend who lives on her Notion system that she created for her and her exec. 

Some people use One Note. Some use Asana or Monday and I’m noticing more and more people mentioning ClickUp and Smartsheet. 

Again, the two most important considerations here are:

  1. What are you allowed to use with your company? What is the accepted corporate system? What is the IT policy? 


  1. Are you using it? Is it working for you? 

Trello is free and it’s still working for me so I’m still using it. 

Meetings are for decisions 

And finally… Please stay with me because this has been life changing for me. 

Meetings are for decisions. 

I’m going to say it again because it is so, so important. 

Meetings are for decisions. 

Meetings are not to present information. If I need to present information, I put together my slides and I record the presentation. I then send the presentation to everyone who needs to see it. It’s pre work to be done prior to the meeting and that way, the meeting is to discuss, and make a decision. 

A presentation that has been recorded is always more concise. 

It can be viewed at a time convenient for the people who need to see it. They have time to process their thoughts and they can come to the meeting with a list of talking points. 

You can use a tool like Loom for this. I use Canva and I find it brilliant. 

It’s incredibly efficient and it’s something I’m really pleased to see more and more forward thinking organisations implementing. 

And that concludes my latest executive assistant tools and tips for organisational perfection!