Getting control of your calendar can be a big boost to your productivity! I enjoyed reading the calendar tips from Attorney at Work today, and it inspired me to share a few of my own calendar productivity hacks – some for Outlook and some for other platforms. Be sure to check out the FindTime group scheduling app and the IRS deadlines calendar!
Display Your Calendar
I discovered years ago that it was much more efficient for me to keep my calendar open at all times, just as I do my inbox. Opening your Outlook calendar in a separate window is quick and easy. Instead of clicking on the calendar icon at the bottom left of the Outlook window, right-click it and select Open in New Window as shown. I then position my Inbox and Calendar windows slightly offset, so I can easily switch between the two.
Scheduling Individual Meetings
If you’d rather not use another tool for scheduling, Outlook has a built-in way to send your schedule. Use the Email Calendar button on the Home ribbon in your calendar. This can be a helpful tool for both scheduling meetings and sharing calendar items with a spouse or coworker.
Detailed instructions on how to email your calendar are on this page. You are able to designate the date range, level of appointment detail included, and whether time outside of your designated Working Hours is included. The email sent (see sample above) displays your availability in the message and an attached iCalendar (.ics) file, which the recipient can open in Outlook or most other calendar programs.
Are y’all ready for this?!? Beyond just viewing the email, the attached iCalendar file can be opened as a new calendar in Outlook, which the recipient can then view side-by-side with their own calendar. Many people are not aware of this option, so you may wish to include these instructions in your email. Items can also be dragged from the received calendar to the recipient’s own Outlook calendar. If you wish for someone to use this added functionality, be sure to include more appointment detail than the default free/busy information when choosing what to send.
Group Scheduling Apps
Within your team, sharing calendars is the best way to do scheduling, because you can overlay team member’s calendars or use Outlook’s Scheduling Assistant to identify open slots. For those outside of your team or organization, Doodle polls or Microsoft’s FindTime app are designed to poll attendees about their availability. What I like about both is that they are web-based, so no installs are needed and they work on any device.
Cool Scheduling App: FindTime
FindTime is much more feature rich! However, it has one limitation. Anyone can be invited using FindTime, but the organizer has to have an Office 365 account. This is because FindTime installs as an Outlook add-in and utilizes Exchange Online. All of the details can be found on the FindTime app page.
Things I love about FindTime:
- Allows you to designate optional and required attendees
- Allows people to vote and designate their favorite times
- Has options to:
- Send the organizer notifications as people vote
- Automatically send the meeting request when everyone has voted
- Tentatively hold spots on your calendar during voting
- Include online meeting information
- Security! All information is encrypted
IRS Deadlines Calendar
If you are a small business owner like me, keeping up with tax deadlines is important! Even if you have someone take care of that, it’s good to ensure things are happening as needed. The IRS provides an IRS Tax Calendar for Business and Self-Employed page for reference and it includes several calendar tools, which will give you reminders of upcoming deadlines.
IRS Calendar Installation
At the top of the Tax Calendar page, go to Tools > Add to Mobile Device or Computer. To add an additional Outlook Calendar (also works on Apple OS X, iOS or Android Calendars), choose the Download or Subscribe link. Details on the two options are contained on the page. You should also choose whether you are a monthly or semiweekly depositor.
Open the IRS calendar by going to your Calendar navigation pane (bottom left corner) and selecting it under Other Calendars (as shown above).
RSS Feed Installation
There is also a Desktop Connector option, but it requires the installation of Adobe AIR and may not render well on some displays. Therefore, I don’t recommend it.
If you try any of these suggestions, I’d love to hear back from you, so leave a comment and let me know what worked, what didn’t, etc.
Also published on Medium.