2 October 2010

Calendar Clarity

Sometimes I find meeting requests are not as clear as they could be.  I like to see at a glance who will be at the meeting, what the purpose is and where the meeting will be held without having to open it.  For instance:

Subject: Patricia, Adele and Rita meeting to discuss Christmas Party
Location: Large Boardroom, 5th Floor

If it is a lunch meeting I enter the restaurant name, street address and whether a reservation was made.

Subject: Linda lunch meeting with Bob
Location: Red Lobster, 99 Bank Street RESERVATION IN NAME OF LINDA

When it is a regular meeting or large gathering, it will make more sense to put in the name of the meeting such as Health & Safety Committee rather than listing all the names of the attendees. 

You can add the agenda to the meeting request by attaching it.  To add an attachment, click on the Insert tab and choose Attach File or Attach Item.  When you send it to the attendees they will have all the information they need for the meeting.   

My current boss travels a lot so I put his travel schedule in the calendar as well.  I categorize it in a different colour so it stands out from the rest of his meetings.  For example if he is travelling to Vienna I will start a meeting request for each part of the journey and categorize it as Red. 


In the meeting request, I choose the time the flight departs and the time it lands and cut and paste the referred to portion of the electronic ticket into the body of the calendar appointment.  For example:

AC Flt. 211 Oct. 12, 2010 Depart Ottawa at 11 a.m., arrive Toronto at 11:45 a.m.
Seat 2C, aisle

For the next part of the trip I do the same thing and cut and paste that part of the itinerary into the body of the calendar appointment.  If he is staying overnight, on the last leg of the trip I enter the name and address of the hotel he is staying at and the confirmation number. 


AC Flt. 1234 Oct. 24, 2010 Depart Toronto at 6 p.m., arrive Vienna Oct. 25 at 11 a.m.
Seat 2A, Window

Hotel Name, 112 Any Street, Vienna, Austria -  Confirmation #12345

You can put a lot of things in a meeting request.  You can drag and drop an email, add a contact card, include links to company websites, add directions, include a photo and brief bio of the person your boss will be meeting (which is useful if they have never met), you can attach documents they need for the meeting or you can draft a quick agenda to remind your boss what they wanted to talk to the person about.  Again, if there is anything in the body of the meeting request, always put OPEN FOR DETAILS or he or she will never know there is anything there for them to see.

I find the all-day meeting requests a little bit useless for meetings.  Undoubtedly if the meeting is put as an all-day meeting and someone is looking in your calendar to see if you are busy, they will probably not notice the all-day meeting that is at the top of the calendar.  If a meeting is from 9 to 5 for instance, I block that whole time in their calendar.  Then it is obvious they are out for the day.  If you have a meeting that is recurring for two or three days and you want to show they are gone the whole day, you can still use the recurring option.  To do this, block your time, then choose Recurrence and under Recurrence Pattern, choose Daily, click on Every 1 day and then choose the end date.  It will now block the calendar from 9 to 5 (or whatever time you chose) for the 3 days.

I like to use the all-day meeting option for reminders and I categorize them in different colours so they stand out.  For instance I will put a reminder to call a client and put the name and phone number in the Subject line.  The only problem with using the all-day meeting option for reminders is that now if someone looks at the scheduling option in Outlook, it will seem as if the calendar is busy.  I don't find many people use that option so it is not an issue, but if your office does, you will need to find some other way to remind your boss such as using Tasks.

I also like to turn on the stat holiday alerts in Outlook so you will see all the stat holidays in a calendar year.  To add holidays, go under Tools, Options, choose Calendar Options and in the middle you will see Add Holidays.  Choose the country you want and click OK.  Stat holidays will now be added as all-day items.


Maggie said...

Thank you! I am just starting to use Outlook more for meetings and found this post extremely helpful. :)

Maura said...

First of all I have to say I missed reading this blog. I too changed jobs recently and lost my "blog window" in the mornings. I need to start fitting it in again because of the infinite wisdom of your tips. I just finished reading this article in AAU and came to find it to offer you a tip regarding your tip.

You noted that you avoid using the all day feature because it looks like you are busy all day. While that is as true a statement as I have ever heard (we are all busy ALL day) there is a way to use the functionality and fix the problem. While you are setting up this all day "reminder" you just have to change the "Show time as" status to Free. And voila you have a reminder and your coworkers can book you silly!!

Patricia Robb said...

Good one Maura! I never thought of that, but you are absolutely right. Thanks for the tip...