In this installment of my series on technology favorites, I interviewed three Executive Assistants to learn what tech products they rely on to do their jobs better and with less stress. First, a brief introduction of our three Executive Assistants:
- Monica owned and managed a record company in SF before becoming a superstar EA. She's been in her current role for over 8 years supporting a very busy executive and is a health and wellness enthusiast.
- I met Rona over four years ago and placed her in 2012. She supported a CEO and CFO for three years, juggling lots of projects with grace and humor. She has a JD degree and a ton of spunk.
- Sugi was introduced to me by another stellar EA and works virtually with a 24/7 mentality, always up for new challenges. She's been with her current boss for six years and attended UT Austin.
Microsoft vs. Google
First things first. Even more than the rest of us, Executive Assistants spend much of the work day in their email and calendar. Gmail for Work and Microsoft Outlook are the products these three EAs recommended.
Monica likes Outlook. She says, "I use Outlook for everything at the office. We upgraded recently to Office 2016, which has a lot of great new features that I'm still exploring." Here are three features she pointed out:
- "I'm enjoying the Groups feature which you can use instead of distribution lists. You can organize them around topics and conversations, create events, join existing Groups, etc."
- "I also like the Tell Me feature which ... lets you see results for what you are looking for as soon as you start typing."
- "[An]other new feature I'm enjoying [is] real-time co-authoring in Word."
Rona uses Google's email and calendar. She praised Google's Inbox by Gmail as "an updated version which has much better functionality and is colorful and great reminder and email bundling." Inbox by Gmail is available both as a mobile app and on a web browser.
Sugi uses both Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar. She manages her boss's calendar using Outlook, but for her own calendaring, both work and personal, she uses Google Calendar. Sugi also uses Dropbox to minimize "any back and forth with docs." She says, "my co-worker and I can access everything we need from our shared folder."
Notes and Task Lists
For note taking, Rona recommends combining the Livescribe pen with Evernote. The "pen records and immediately posts written notes in [Evernote] app." For tasks, Rona uses Asana which was also recommended by Kathryn, one of the clients who contributed to "Technology Faves for Personal Assistants."
Of to-do lists, Sugi says "I use my iPhone notes, will send myself a quick email, or use trusty ol' pen & paper. There is something very satisfying about being able to mark through items on your lists."
Travel is an essential responsibility of most EAs - finding the best flights and hotels, keeping everything in sync as changes inevitably arise, and then handling expense reimbursement.
To find flights, Monica uses a variety of sites and apps, including American Express Online (AXO) and Skyscanner. Rona recommends finding deals on commercial flights with Momondo. For private flights, she uses both FLITE Air Taxi and JetSuite.
Finally, a few recommendations for keeping track of the boss's travel expenses and travel points. Expensify is Rona's pick for expenses, and Monica uses AwardWallet to keep track of travel points and rewards.