At Resolve we've recently changed the way we use the calendar function in Outlook to take advantage of all the scheduling features and I thought I'd share with you a few of the things we're doing in case they are also useful for you:
Categorise your appointments carefully, so that they reflect the nature of your appointment:
- Out of the Office (and unavailable)
- Working elsewhere (and available on Skype, email or phone)
- Busy (in the office but not available)
- Free (Something in your calendar, but still available for other bookings)
- Tentative (when you are planning a meeting but it is not confirmed)
Mark your appointment “private” when dealing with sensitive or personal issues so other people will see you are busy, but won't be able to see any of the details.
Make sure your system administrator has defined your meeting spaces as resources in the Office 365 admin console so that when you set the location of the meeting it automatically books the meeting space, or declines the meeting when there is a conflict.
Ensure that you set the permissions on your calendar so that your colleauges can view, edit, delete appointments etc. depending on how much access you want to give them. This can also be set globally by your system administrator if you have a company policy on how they should be configured.
When viewing multiple calendars you can "overlay" them by clicking on the arrow at the top of the calendar so you can easily see where multiple people are available and when any meeting spaces are booked at any one time. This can also be done using the scheduling view when inviting colleagues to meetings.
Always remember that setting a reminder on an appointment when inviting others will give them the same reminder unless they remember to change it. You might want to be woken up at 4AM to get to a meeting, but your colleague might not appreciate the early morning wake up call!
Need to reschedule an appointment? You can simply drag and drop an appointment from one time/date to another and Outlook will prompt you to ask if you want to send the update to all recipients. Need to copy an appointment to a new time and date? Do exaclty the same as moving it above, but with the ctrl key held down.
You can display specific dates (and they don't have to be consecutive) by clicking the dates in the folder pane whilst holding down the ctrl key.
Finally when you are looking at emails and want to create an appointment, you don't need to switch to the calendar view... Simply right click on the Outlook icon on your Windows task bar and select "New Appointment".