Keep Everything From Happening At Once with Outlook Calendar

You likely use Outlook Calendar on a daily basis and have a good understanding of the basics. But do you know how it can help you with your time management?

Gmail may have a monopoly on personal email accounts, but in the professional world, Microsoft Outlook is still on top. Outlook — not just email but also Calendar — comprises the nervous system of many companies, by which instructions, information and appointments are sent back and forth all day long.

Contrary to what Albert Einstein said, it isn’t time that keeps all those things from happening at once. It’s Outlook Calendar. You probably already know how to use some Microsoft Outlook features, but here are a few Outlook Calendar tips and tricks to simplify your workday.

1. Schedule your calendar from your email

In the past, Outlook email has caused some confusion by constantly requiring switches between the email and Calendar windows when the user tries replying to an email with scheduling information. Now, you can view Calendar from the email tab or window directly. To do this, hover your cursor over the Calendar item at the bottom of the Outlook email screen. A mini version of your Calendar will display, and you’ll have the option to click through it to bring up individual appointments.

2. Take the middle view

Most calendars offer day, week and month view options. By switching between them, you can see immediate, short-term and long-term schedules. But did you know that Calendar also has a 10-day option? By pressing Alt+0 (Cmd+right arrow for Mac), you can show not just the current week, but most of the following week as well. This can be invaluable for scheduling work on longer-term projects, planning for returning from vacation and looking ahead at the next business week's specifics.

3. Be tentative

Normally being tentative is terrible in the business world, but it’s actually a helpful Outlook Calendar practice. When you have a flexible meeting, or one whose time isn't completely nailed down yet, you can mark that meeting “tentative” rather than “busy.” Its border will take on a striped pattern rather than a solid one, so you and the other people involved will know that meeting time is somewhat flexible. Once the time is nailed down, you can change it back to “busy.”

4. Keep your notes to yourself

When you make changes to a meeting, everyone invited to that meeting gets to see those changes. But what if you just want to make some reference notes for yourself? Check out the Notes section for your meeting. If you make changes to that section (by writing your notes in it) only you can see them, since it’s your calendar.

5. Stop searching for dates

No, this tip doesn’t mean you have to stop going out with people. (Keep that up all you want!) This means instead of racking your brain to think what date is a week from Tuesday so you can input a meeting, just type “one week from Tuesday” in the meeting’s schedule function. Outlook will put it on the right day. You can do that with any timeframe. Outlook Calendar will even recognize holidays if you type in “Thanksgiving week” or “Labor Day weekend.”

6. Export Calendar

If you need to send or share your calendar with someone who doesn’t use Outlook, you have a few options. There are several ways to transfer calendars between Outlook and Google Calendar, for instance. You can also export your Calendar from Outlook into an Excel file, an Access file, or Outlook data file via the Import/Export wizard. This file can then be copied into other calendars as needed. Just make sure you update your calendar fully before you export it, since the exported file will not update itself.

These are just a few of many Calendar tips and tricks. When you master these and start finding your own, you’ll love working with Calendar so much, you might even wish there were eight days in a week.

Do you have a neat tip, trick or hack that’s made Calendar easier or more organized for you? Please share it in the comments below.

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