A Guest Post by Lior Levin
Task management is a challenge for every professional, and therefore learning to master your calendar is central to becoming more productive. Bundled with the email and contact services of Microsoft Outlook is a powerful calendar feature that you can learn to use and customize in order to make yourself more productive and organized:
Automatically Add Holidays
Put everything in your calendar so that you never have any surprises in your schedule. You may not think you could book something during the week of a major holiday, but with Outlook’s calendar you can easily add all major holidays with a few clicks and remove the possibility of an oversight. According to Microsoft’s Outlook Calendar tips, under the tools menu, click on Options / Calendar /Options /Add Holidays. This calendar tweak ensures that your work schedule never overlaps with your personal plans.
Set Up Recurring Events
Every calendar program worth using offers a recurring event feature that allows you to add an event and then automatically add it to future calendar dates based on a variety of criteria. For example, if you have a staff meeting on the first Monday of every month or if you bill customers on the 15th of every month, you can set up those events or reminders in your calendar according to whatever your scheduling needs are. This saves you a ton of time when it comes to managing your calendar and makes it possible to never forget important tasks and events.
Send E-Mail Reminders through Outlook Calendar
You’ll never be more on top of your schedule than when you’re adding events into your calendar. Rather than returning to your e-mail program to send meeting reminders or risking the possibility that you could forget to send a meeting reminder, Outlook makes it possible to send meeting reminders through e-mail right from the Outlook calendar screen. This simple feature can both save time and ensure you don’t ever overlook inviting team members to an event.
Just be sure that when you manage your meetings through Outlook’s calendar that you send your attendees the right information when they need it. For example, CompuQuip suggests, “‘Send cancellation and delete meeting’ when canceling a meeting – Simply deleting the meeting without sending a cancellation notice to attendees will only remove the meeting from your own calendar, and will leave an “orphaned” meeting on the calendars of the other attendees. They will have no way of knowing that the meeting was cancelled, or if informed separately, they will have to manually remove the meeting from?their calendars.”
Keep Your Calendar Where You Can See It
The key for using any calendar effectively throughout your work day is keeping your calendar in a place where you can easily see it. A simple program like Outlook on the Desktop makes it possible to keep your calendar in plain sight. The program’s designer writes, “The calendar object gets pinned to your desktop and stays there all the time in plain sight so you can always see what’s upcoming. Of course, the benefits don’t stop there … because it’s the actual Microsoft Outlook calendar, you get all its functionality, such as direct editing, drag and drop of files, etc.”
Plan Your Projects Backward
One of the greatest challenges for any schedule is budgeting enough time to get a project done, especially if you run into unexpected delays. Michelle V. Rafter has a fantastic suggestion for overcoming that problem with your calendar: budget your time from the due date backwards.
She suggests, “When I get an assignment, I enter the due date in Outlook, then estimate how many hours I think the assignment will take so I know when I need to get started.” With this method, you can easily take into account possible delays and develop a plan that enables you to work according to your ideal time frame.
By automating, simplifying, and keeping your Outlook calendar easy to find, you’ll be well on your way to becoming more productive and in control of your daily schedule.
Your turn! Have you used Outlook’s calendar? What calendar do you use? How do you keep track of your writing? Join the conversation by leaving a comment.
Lior Levin is an advisor for Barilliance, a shopping cart abandonment service that provides a solution for websites from all over the world. He also advises to BillGuard, a Passbook application developer that created an app to follow credit charges from your phone.
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