16 January 2010

Calendar "ah ha"

I was participating in a Harvard sponsored webinar with my boss the other day.  The topic was on personal branding and they were making recommendations to executives on how to polish up their image.  I guess he thought I needed the help.

One of the things they recommended to executives was to use their electronic calendar to leave themselves reminders.  From a personal branding point of view they suggested that if you kept reminders then you would be seen as someone who is on top of things and nothing gets by you.  -- Wait a minute! The thought is good, but...that defeats the purpose of the Scheduling feature in Outlook.  If someone puts in a "birthday" or a "pick up the dry cleaning" reminder in their calendar as an all-day event, to those who are using the Scheduler, it will look like the person is busy for the day and in reality they may have the day open.  When you are checking through the Scheduler, it gives no details on the meeting, just that you are not free. 

I think if Microsoft asked me what I would like to see in an electronic calendar, I would suggest not to bother with the all-day event option.  Who notices that string along the top anyway?  Use that feature to set reminders (which everyone uses it for anyway).  How many times I have booked a meeting thinking the day was free, only to notice later that an all-day event was put in unnoticed at the top.

Another one I never use.  Does anyone know what all the assigned colours mean in Outlook without peeking?  If you block a time in your calendar in purple, unless I check the legend or know it by memory, I have no way of knowing what that colour means. For those who do use this feature, they get a little annoyed if we don't realize their meeting with the purple colour means the meeting is out of the office. Huh?

They really should have asked assistants for their input on what would be the best features to have to accommodate our hectic and fast-paced world of meeting scheduling.


BettyAnn said...

I LOVE the color feature. I use this all the time on my calendar and my boss's calendar, and it helps us both to know which events are phone calls which he can take in the office or on the road (yellow) or which events will require travel (blue). I can even make reminders to him for his personal events (green) like lunch with a friend or picking up dry cleaning.

Patricia said...

I have a similar system with my boss. I put travel in red and action reminders in yellow, but that is our own system and it works for us. Some people use the Outlook assigned colours and they each mean something. There is a colour for travel, business, personal, etc., but I don't use that system or know what the colours mean. One person who uses this system all the time couldn't figure out why I didn't know that purple on her private appointment meant she was out of the office -- huh!
I just discovered you can assign names to the colours and then it will put the name in the colour band on the appointment so it is more obvious to those who may be looking at your calendar outside of you and your boss.

Foley-In-Charge said...

Actually, my office uses the all day events for the staff calendar- that way we can review the top of the calendar to determine what staff is in/out for the day. Our office manager updates it every morning. I do like the color features, but I only use the bright yellow for appts that cannot be moved. Otherwise too many colors make the calendar overwhelming, not helpful.

Patricia Robb said...

We also have a staff calendar at work and use the all day events the same way. Recently, we wanted to see who was off site and at what event, so we decided when people are away at conferences, etc. they enter their away time in red to distinguish it from the other away days. For instance if I was going to be away to attend a conference I would put:
Pat off site (IAAP/Toronto)
This way we can keep track of who is going where, when. You would be surprised how often staff find out other staff members are going on business in the same city and sometimes even at the same conference, so it has been very helpful.