Tips and Trick: making the most of your Outlook calendar

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Using Outlook to Manage your Diary

I have managed diaries across a variety of systems, including Google and Apple iCloud, but Outlook still comes up as my favourite diary management tool when working in a team environment. Over the years Microsoft have improved the functions to make planning and managing meetings easier. Here are five tips to help keep your diary in check.

Where are you?

Managing multiple diaries I often need to see at a glance where other members of my client’s team are.  The ‘show as’ function makes this a lot easier. This function is available on the appointment ribbon and there is a dropdown menu with five choices:

  • free
  • working elsewhere
  • tentative
  • busy
  • out of office

outlook calendar

Each option has a side bar colour which when viewed on the calendar or using the scheduling view makes it easy to see at a glance where you or your team are.

outlook calendar

Categories

Outlook categories work well if you’re a visual person but can appear messy if you’re not. When you set your categories in Outlook they apply to the whole system – so you can add the same category to an email or a calendar appointment. Categories use colour code.

outlook calendar

The categories option is available on the main home ribbon when you’re in your inbox, or under tags within the calendar appointment. By selecting ‘all categories’ you can add new ones or amend existing ones. From the image above, you can see I have set up four options: external meeting (blue), important (red), internal meeting (orange) and working time (purple).  In the image below, you can see how using these categories can work for your calendar.

outlook calendar

Scheduling View

This function does rely on other members of your team using the ‘show as’ function described above. It is a really quick and easy way to check everyone’s calendar without having to open them all. You access this view via the calendar appointment option ‘scheduling assistant’.

The blue area highlights the time slot you have chosen for the meeting. It then shows a list view of the attendees and their availability. At the bottom it gives you a reminder of the ‘show as’ options and on the right, it offers times when there are no conflicts. If you have meeting rooms set up in the resources section, it will also show which meeting rooms are available.

Information is Key

If you have a diary that is back to back with meetings, or you are trying to meet with someone who is always in meetings, you can make things easier by including information within the calendar appointment. The appointment itself has a free text box where you can add relevant information, a draft agenda or any other information the invite recipient may find useful. You can attach documents, emails or photos – whatever is relevant to the meeting you are scheduling. Do remember that your recipient’s calendar may be accessible to others, so be mindful of the information you include, especially if it is confidential. As a rule, I would avoid including confidential information within an appointment and would instead reference where the relevant information could be found.

outlook diary

BCC Recipients

With the updates Microsoft have made to Outlook, the bcc box has disappeared from the calendar invite. If you are wanting to send an invite to several external recipients, but it’s not appropriate for them to see each other’s email address, there is still a way to bcc them.

outlook diary

Set up your calendar invite as normal and click ‘to’ to reveal the address list box. Add the email addresses that you want to bcc to the ‘resources’ section.

Travel Time

This tip isn’t Outlook specific, but it is something I have seen people miss many times. If you are attending meetings in different locations, or arranging meetings for someone that will be in different locations, don’t forget to add travel time to the calendar.  When you do add travel time, check how long it will take to get from one location to another and add a little contingency time. It will be a lot less stressful for you (or the person whose diary you manage) if you have plenty of time to get from one place to another.

outlook diary

These are just a few useful tips for making the most of your Outlook calendar. What other Outlook tools do you use to help keep your diary in check?

Hints and Tips: Public Speaking

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Fear of public speaking is one of the highest ranking phobias.

Standing up in front of a group of people, whether they are known to you or not, can be incredibly daunting. However, as a business owner, public speaking can be a powerful way of getting across your expertise and an understanding of how your business can help others. Whether it is at a networking event, conference or presenting to a prospective client, how you come across can influence whether people use or recommend your services.

Presenting doesn’t need to be scary. Here are some tips to help you prepare for that big presentation:

 

Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Poor Performance…

Try to make time to prepare for your presentation. You may well be a ‘seat of the pants’ kind of person, but even those who ‘wing it’ often take time to prepare. Think about the key points you want to get across and the best order to present them.

 

Less is More: content

Your audience is only likely to remember two or three of your key points. If you pack your presentation full of information, your key messages are likely to be lost. Why are you doing this particular presentation? Once you have that clear in your mind, decide what are the three key things you want people to remember and focus on those in your preparation.

 

Less is More: visual aids

If you decide to use visual aids in the form of electronic slides, whiteboard or flipchart keep the information you display to a minimum. As with your content, keep each slide (page) to two or three points. Keep these points short and succinct. Check your spelling and grammar – if that’s not your strong point, ask someone else to check it. There’s nothing more distracting than a typo on a presentation. Don’t be tempted to sneak in all the information you couldn’t cover in your content!

 

Practice Makes Perfect

Whether it’s in front of the mirror, a friendly colleague or family member, try to run through your full presentation ahead of the real thing. Check your timings. Practice with props or visual aids so that you don’t end up fumbling with them on the day.

 

On the Day

Remember that nobody, except for you, knows exactly what you plan to cover. If you miss something out, it is not the end of the world and you definitely don’t need to tell the audience you missed it! And finally, try to relax and enjoy the experience.

Happy New Year – 2018 is here!

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Welcome to 2018!

The first full working week of 2018, how are things going for you?  

Last week whizzed by for me, with an on-site day with one client and an excellent meeting with another, reviewing the past three months and planning for the coming months. My feet barely touched the ground.  Unfortunately, I was suffering with a cold (kindly donated by my nephew over Christmas, he was happy to gift it to me, my Mum and Dad, we have taught him to share well!).

This meant I wasn’t able to join my walking group on Saturday, however, I snuggled up at home and went slightly mad with de-cluttering rooms, updating music on i-tunes, putting the Christmas decorations into the loft and generally filling my recycling bin to the brim.  It felt very therapeutic, almost worth missing the walk!

I also reviewed my categories, which I have blogged about previously and thought it may be helpful to re-share with you, “Must Do”; “Should Do”; “Will Do”!

Must Do: for me, are things that have been outstanding for some time, not necessarily important, though items I would like to complete for my own sanity.

Should Do: are daily or weekly tasks that will be completed regularly and will always be there.  Identified in Outlook, my reminders keep these in hand.

Will Do:  are goals we have set for 2018, to assist Holly and I, in continuing to develop and grow Virtual Angels.

Take a look at your own task list, identify tasks that fit into each category, then book out regular blocks of time in your calendar to tackle them.  January is a great time to review processes and tickling completed items off at the end of the day provides a sense of achievement.

Make this full working week count and take a little time each day to identify and complete some Must, Should and Will Do tasks.  Let me know how much you enjoy ticking them off at the end of the day.

Dead Time – what can you do?

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I’m really busy……………..

People seem to be increasingly busy these days. Increased connectivity keeps us online and tuned in more than we have time out. When you’re on the move, whether traveling for business or between meetings, sometimes it can be frustrating when you have time waiting around. Here’s some ideas of what you can do in those short gaps:

Focus on a small project or task

When I’m travelling on a train, it is often my best time for writing blogs or thinking through a problem I need to solve for a client.  The lack of connectivity and restricted access to distractions makes it perfect thinking time.  Don’t force it though, go with your though flows – sometimes not thinking about something at all will help it come together in your head in the quiet times.

Catch Up

If you’re stuck at an airport, or have an hour to kill before meetings, it can be a great time to clear some of those emails that have been sitting around for a while. It can also be a really good time to read those blog posts or newsletters that looked really interesting when it popped in to your inbox.

Breathe and Take Time Out

Life is busy and actually, sometimes it is good just take some time out.  Whether it’s reading a book, knitting, meditating or taking some form of exercise. Whatever helps you wind down, try to find a way to take that with you when you’re travelling or away from the office going from meeting to meeting.

Tips and Tricks: Gmail Settings (personal or business)

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Today, it’s Google’s turn for our ‘tips and tricks’ spot. Google have a range of apps for business under their GSuite subscription. One of these is Gmail, which is also available free as personal email. Continue reading “Tips and Tricks: Gmail Settings (personal or business)”

The Microsoft solution to a Gmail problem on Apple

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Previously, I’ve written about my dislike of conversation view for emails. Some people love it – I am not one of them. I find it confusing and often miss emails as a consequence. Continue reading “The Microsoft solution to a Gmail problem on Apple”

Take Control of your Emails

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I have recently been running workshops and giving presentations about time management. The question I often get asked is ‘how can I better manage my emails?’.  Unfortunately, there is no magic answer to this question. Emails are generated by others and you will never be able to stop them from emailing you. However, there are some things you can do to take back a little bit of control. Continue reading “Take Control of your Emails”

Searching in Outlook – Part One

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A study conducted by Warwick Business School in 2013 found that we send and receive a staggering 10,000 emails a year. So how do we find that one email that we know we received and filed safely, but just cannot find? Well, if you are using Outlook, there are lots of ways to refine your search so you can find that email.  Here’s the first of two blogs where I show you how you can refine the way you search in Outlook. Continue reading “Searching in Outlook – Part One”