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An Executive Assistant Daily Checklist in a World of AI

Adam Henshall
Jan 11, 2024
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How much of the executive assistant daily checklist are we automating away with advances in artificial intelligence SaaS products? Click to find out how the world of executive assistants will change with the proliferation of AI.
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It feels like the last 10 years have been a golden age for executive assistants, with the rise in remote work and technologies that allow us to connect across vast geographies and time zones.

The opportunity for people to become executive assistants has skyrocketed. There are now so many different types of executive assistants, from working closely in person with a big CEO to working halfway around the world with four different leaders, keeping their days and work on track.

The range of value that executive assistants bring to the modern workplace, and even to personal lives, is vast. But how does this change in a world with AI? 

Is AI going to automate away executive assistants? Unlikely. Is AI going to change the way executive assistants work and how many people use them? Almost certainly.

At Xembly, we create AI software that boosts productivity for individuals and teams, and we often describe our products as AI executive assistants. But what does that mean? 

How much of the role of the executive assistant are we automating away? What aspects of the executive assistant role are going to become more important now that the job is augmented with AI?

In this Xembly article, we'll explore:

  • What's on an executive assistant's daily checklist?
  • What does the human exec assistant add that an AI can't?
  • How AI can ease the workload
  • 4 ways an AI executive assistant can boost productivity
  • What's next for executive assistants when daily checklists are automated?

What's on an executive assistant's daily checklist?

There are so many different types of executive assistants, and they come with various titles and names. Some might be administrative assistants, while others might use the term secretary. Others may use more dramatic language or terms.

For most executive assistants, though, the basis of the job remains the same. The role has a series of responsibilities that form a spine from which other tasks may be built out. These core responsibilities may change a little from place to place or sector by sector, but they remain fairly consistent.

So, what is on an executive assistant's daily checklist? 

One of the first repeating items an executive assistant will aim to do on a daily basis is to talk to the person they're helping early in the day. They'll want to explain what is coming up on the calendar, what is planned in, and why. Whether or not any of those arranged items should be moved or delayed, and whether there are any communications the person needs to make early in the day. All of these different things form the basis of day planning.

We might do it all for our own days. Every morning, I decide what things I want to work on and when in the day I will work on them. An executive assistant provides this as a service to the person they are helping. The executive assistant will likely leave that meeting or chat with a short to-do list of items. This could be to send a series of emails to update people on different things, to cancel or schedule events or bookings, or to go and physically make stuff work or move things around, or whatever the specialist tasks required are.

The day of an executive assistant begins in this very structured fashion and would typically become less structured as the day goes on. What an executive assistant might add at the end of the day is a recap, an opportunity to talk through what has been done, what has been achieved, and what needs to be done the next day. That way, the executive assistant can start the next day with clear knowledge of the plan before the morning meeting occurs.

All of this shapes a pretty common executive assistant daily schedule.

What does the human exec assistant add that an AI can't?

There are certain things that a human executive assistant can bring to the role that AI is simply not capable of doing. 

An executive assistant can be not just a support worker to the leader they're helping, but also a proactive worker; proposing things, reminding them about tasks, and taking the initiative on items. They can bring their creativity and abilities to aid in completing the work that needs to be done. 

But that depends on the kind of work the client is engaged in, the skill set of the assistant, and the longevity of the relationship. Having a human in these scenarios is useful.

If there's a meeting a person can't go to, they can send their assistant on their behalf. The assistant will not only be able to record what happened at the meeting and relay it back, but they'll also be able to proactively engage in the meeting to a certain extent.

Beyond this, there are many simple tasks that humans undergo every day that AI still finds very challenging. 

Recently on Threads, Josh Nguyen (@joshuanguyen) asked why every AI company seems to create demo videos displaying the AI booking travel plans. This appears to be the use case that product marketers for these companies go back to every time. We saw it with the Humane pin, we saw it with Google's latest releases, OpenAI has used it, and now Rabbit’s collaboration with Teenage Engineering is doing the same. 

It is a well that AI companies keep going back to, but currently, no AI can book your travel plans for you like a human can. There are so many different options, so many different things to consider, so many different judgments to make, different personal preferences to plan for. And then there are so many ways to get better deals or to adjust your plans to make them more affordable. 

Until AI companies launch their own travel booking websites and services, AI will have to navigate them, and tasks like this, simple though they seem, are much better performed by a human.

How AI can ease the workload

That doesn't mean that AI can't do some things. 

In fact, AI can do a lot of things. AI can perform a lot of small manual tasks that take up time every single day. 

Many of these tasks, while small, are the kinds of tasks that humans without executive assistance may often ignore. Maybe you didn't take notes in that meeting, or you didn't document the tasks properly at the end of the meeting to be ready for future action. Maybe you forgot to write out your day plan this morning. Humans forget this stuff all the time. We're all guilty of it. 

But when we're working in teams at large companies, forgetting to do this stuff can have negative knock-on effects.

If you all attend a meeting and no one takes notes, that's not very useful when multiple people are trying to find alignment on the contents of that meeting a week later. Or even if you did record the notes but didn't share and store them in an easily searchable place, then while you spent the time and did some of the work, the other people who attended that meeting lose out on the benefit of being able to access those notes. 

These are really small things, but all these small things add up. And when you look at the productivity gains that were not realized as a result of the collaboration that builds on top of these small things, you start to realize they're quite big things after all. 

Where AI comes in and adds value is in automating all of these small things, making these tasks easier, faster, and done every time consistently.

But the AI doesn't need to be able to perform every task that an executive assistant would normally do. 

An AI can perform the body of repeatable tasks that an executive assistant regularly does. When you use AI executive assistants as a team, not just as individuals, you find that what you're really replacing is as much like a project manager as like an assistant. The AI takes notes for all of you in the meeting and then proposes to-dos and tasks for the people who attended, even delegating them to different attendees. 

In this environment, the AI is not merely a support but perhaps a part of the team.

4 ways an AI executive assistant can boost productivity

How an AI can best add value to your workplace depends on the work you do every day, the resources you can currently draw from, and the way your team is structured and organized. But here are a few common areas of value:

AI executive assistant benefit #1

An AI assistant can automatically take notes in meetings and provide those notes for everyone who attended to edit after the meeting ends. The AI can also provide a summary of those notes so that you can go back to them in the future to understand what happened and what was decided upon in the meeting, without having to trawl through an hour's worth of transcription.

AI executive assistant benefit #2

If you use an AI like Xembly, you can find those notes turned into more than just a summary. With Xembly, the action items discussed in your meeting will be pulled out and proposed by the AI assistant Xena, and included in the task management area of the software. Xena may also suggest the tasks to be delegated to particular members of the team. This turns the AI's capabilities from an assistant or a secretary to more of a project manager, providing task management and accountability to your team.

AI executive assistant benefit #3

The third way is to reduce the need to attend those meetings in the first place. One of the problems I've found working in remote tech companies for the past decade has been meetings with many attendees who did not need to be there. If we work out the cost of any given meeting with each person's hourly rate summed up, the costs are usually much higher than we'd wish to bear. With Xembly, you can send your AI to go in your place, and they'll report back with a summary of the meeting afterwards. This saves everybody time, and if you don't need to directly contribute, it means you can focus on the work you should be doing and stay in deep work longer, where you're being most productive.

AI executive assistant benefit #4

When the AI delegates a task to you, you can have the AI add it to your calendar. The AI can then block out part of your calendar for that task - or be more disciplined at timebox it - and either reject meeting requests for that time block or move your time block around to squeeze meetings in. If it's important, this kind of calendar management and smart calendar capabilities allow the AI to help assist you in what work you can get done and when, and balance that with the needs of your team.

What's next for executive assistants when daily checklists are automated?

Of all the tasks that an executive assistant may find automated away from them, the daily checklist is surely the first to go. 

The daily checklist is standardized, repeatable, and as a result, easier to automate. But does that matter if you are an executive assistant? 

Should you be worried? I don't think so.

Sometimes an executive assistant helps only one person, often someone very busy in a position of power like a CEO. However, many more people have executive assistants, but they're not the only person that executive assistant helps. 

There are lots of assistants now who work online, helping multiple people. Because of the technological advances around remote work, executive assistants don't have to be in one place, following around one person. They can help multiple people at once. They can scale their services.

The use of AI in providing these types of services doesn't automate away the executive assistant but provides tools for them to scale the services they provide. 

You could ask the question, whose assistant is the AI assistant? Is the AI really assisting the executive assistant to assist more people? It's getting a little bit confusing, but what this could do as the technology creates added scale is enable a single person to help a larger number of people day by day. 

This could lower the relative cost of an executive assistant while allowing executive assistants to take on more clients. On balance, this could work out as a payday for executive assistants as the software takes on more and more simple and standard responsibilities - and the human on the other end of it can focus on adding value where a robot can't.

At Xembly, we don't see the role of AI assistants as being there to replace human workers, but instead to augment them and increase their productivity and output, helping everyone in the organization work like a CEO.

Xembly turns an AI executive assistant into an AI chief of staff

Xembly is an AI chief of staff - scheduling meet ups, attending your meetings, recording the notes, creating action items, assigning tasks, and helping team members manage their time so that work gets done.

Here are three advantages of using Xembly:

Smooth AI scheduling

Xembly enables 1:1 appointments and complex multi-person scheduling requests with ease. Whether it's via email, Slack, or a dedicated scheduling link, Xembly's AI aide, Xena, coordinates the details for you and your participants.

Accurate meeting documentation

Xembly documents the essential aspects of your meetings, leaving out anything unnecessary. It provides notes, recordings, and compiles video snippets of important segments. Whether meetings are remote, hybrid, or in-person, Xembly helps you focus on meaningful conversations.

Intelligent task oversight

Xembly’s Task Manager gives direction to your calendar through its auto-task monitoring and time allocation. With Xembly’s Task Manager, users experience a 26% uptick in task completion rates. It creates time for meeting tasks and shapes your timetable to help you get them done.

If you're still not sold, check out our happy customers:

Try Xembly now by clicking here.

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