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?

Using Social Media

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Social media has become a big part of our everyday lives personally and professionally. As a police officer, my social media profiles were locked down with limited public information. However, leaving the police and running my own business, I’ve had to learn to be more open about connecting with people and keeping the information up to date. Continue reading “Using Social Media”

Making the most of the Summer months

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Summer holidays can mean two things for businesses depending on the product or service they provide. It can be one of the busiest times of the year for the hospitality or tourist industry, but for those providing business to business (B2B) services, it can be an incredibly quiet time. Often clients will take time off over the summer or reduce their required services. Some may even review the services over these quiet months and decide to stop using them altogether. Continue reading “Making the most of the Summer months”

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)”

Networking, Blogging, Social Media – what’s the point?

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Why bother with networking, blogging and social media for business?

If you run a business there are so many things to do, all the time, and there is so much information out there about how often you should be networking, blogging and updating social media. We have written before about our networking experiences, our Virtual Angels social media is active and updated often and we regularly blog for our business. All of this takes time and when you’re on your own the sheer volume of work can seem overwhelming. Continue reading “Networking, Blogging, Social Media – what’s the point?”

How do I communicate with my VA?

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One of the most common questions we get asked when talking to potential Clients is ‘how will you keep in touch?’. Working with a Virtual Assistant requires a different way of communicating, but if it’s clearly defined from the beginning, it’s really straight forward. Here’s a brief overview of how we communicate with our Clients: Continue reading “How do I communicate with my VA?”

12 ways a Virtual Assistant can help free your time!

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The right Virtual Assistant can help you grow your business by freeing up your time to focus on the important strategy.  Here’s just a few ways a Virtual Assistant can free your time. Continue reading “12 ways a Virtual Assistant can help free your time!”

Learning to Delegate

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I am a bit of a perfectionist. I like things done and I like them done well. One of the hardest lessons I learned was to be able to let go and delegate. Whilst I have become more effective at delegating since running my own business, this isn’t where I learnt to delegate.

Outside of work I have spent many years as a volunteer reserve officer with the Air Cadet Organisation.  I’ve been lucky enough to work with lots of talented people during that time, but it was working alongside experienced RAF Sergeants that gave me my real training in delegation – their guidance and advice was invaluable.  Here are my tips for delegating within your business. Continue reading “Learning to Delegate”

Holiday Checklist for Business Owners

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When you own your own business the idea of taking a week or two away can be daunting.  However, there are many benefits to taking a holiday.  It gives you time to relax and rejuvenate.  It can also give you the head space you need to problem solve and plan for your business.

Here’s our Business Owner’s holiday checklist to help you get ready for your summer break. Continue reading “Holiday Checklist for Business Owners”