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Organise your time with Outlook Calendar

In this article, we will look at how to use the diary feature within Outlook, which is called Calendar. Outlook Calendar's main function is as a time planning tool and is invaluable in helping to plan your time by, for example, sending you reminders for meetings, scheduling repeat appointments and much more. The Calendar tools also enable groups of people to find the best time to hold meetings, add and change appointments, and can help plan your work time, social and personal life. In this article, we will show you how to use each of these features.

Let's begin by adding a new appointment. First, click on the Calendar tab at the bottom left hand side of the Outlook Home screen. Next, click New Appointment at the top left hand side of the window. A dialogue box will appear, with spaces to enter the Subject and Location of the appointment. There are drop down menus to select the start and end times of the event. If the event will take up a full day, or continues for several days, click the All Day Event checkbox. Using the checkbox is faster than entering a separate appointment for each day.

At the top of the screen there is a Show As drop down menu, which allows you to set how Outlook displays and handles your time during an appointment. If you choose Busy, colleagues know that you will be unavailable during that appointment and Out of Office lets them know you will also be physically absent from work. Free means other people can still set up meetings with you at that time, and Tentative indicates that the appointment is not yet confirmed.

Below the Show As menu, is Reminder, which generates an alarm to remind you of the meeting at a specific time you choose from a drop down menu. You can choose to be reminded at any time from minutes to weeks before the appointment. Click Save & Close once you are happy with your appointment.

Calendar also allows you to arrange meetings with your Outlook contacts more quickly and efficiently than emailing to and fro. There are three ways to create a meeting request.

1. The first way to create a meeting is to add a new appointment and fill in all the fields exactly as you did to create a solo appointment. When you have finished filling in the details, instead of Save & Close, click on Scheduling. If you are arranging a meeting with colleagues, type their names into the To: slots provided.

Most offices have a Microsoft Exchange Server, so you should be able to see whether your colleagues are available at the time you wish to meet. In the event of a diary clash, use AutoPick Next at the bottom of the screen to find the next available slot when everyone is free. Click Send and Outlook will email invitations to all the entered colleagues. Your colleagues can each respond to your invitation individually, and Outlook will inform you of each reply. If the person you wish to meet with is not a colleague, type their email address into the To: slot.

2. The second method to create a meeting is to click New Meeting towards the top left-hand side of the screen, and fill in the fields in the same way as you did for Add Appointment above, then click Send.

3. The final method for creating a meeting is via a shared calendar. If you want to set up a meeting with someone who shares their Outlook Calendar with you, first open their calendar, which can be seen towards the bottom left of your Calendar Home screen. To select a calendar, click the check box next to it. (If you check multiple calendars, they will appear alongside one another on your screen.) You will be able to see when your colleague is free to meet (and when you are free too, if your calendar is also selected).

Click to select the time you want to hold the meeting and drag to set the meeting length. Right click, and a drop down menu will appear: select New Meeting Request. A new appointment dialogue box will appear, with the name of the person whose calendar you're viewing already inserted into the To field. Click Send to send the invitation.

Customising Your Calendar Display

In Outlook, you can choose how to view our calendar, and quickly switch between views. The different views available are Day, Working Week (Monday to Friday), Full Week or Month. To switch between these use the buttons at the top of the calendar screen.

Tip: If you live or are working in a country whose working week is not Monday to Friday, you can change the Working Week view to the appropriate days as follows:

1. In the Calendar section of Outlook, click File and Options.

2. A dialogue box will appear: select Calendar from the list of options at the left hand side of the box.

3. Below Work Hours are the days of the week, with check boxes next to them: check the days you wish to see in your Working Week view. You can also scroll down the page to choose your Time Zone from a drop down menu.

4. Click OK to save your settings.

Creating Meeting Notes

Notes can be added to a meeting, to help you or others prepare, or even during the course of the meeting itself. To add meeting notes, first open the meeting or appointment, by double-clicking it in your calendar. Click the OneNote button on the left hand side of the Appointment Ribbon. This allows you to create a notes page for the chosen meeting. You can also record video or audio. The notes created in this way will remain connected to this meeting. You can view your notes at any time by clicking the OneNote button.

As you can see from this article, Outlook Calendar is an invaluable tool for to schedule appointments and inviting others to meetings. This feature is an important personal organisational tool and can form the backbone of most people's working lives in offices all around the world.

In our next article, we'll show how to set up a repeat meeting (such as a weekly staff meeting) only once, and later change the timing of one such meeting, or all of them. You'll also learn different ways to share your schedule with others, online or by printing a copy of your schedule. Please see the future article 'Do More with Outlook Calendar'.