Digital diaries should mean it’s wonderfully straightforward to organise a meeting at a time and date that suits all parties. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way in practice – often seeing a deluge of back-and-fore messages (or even polls) to find out a time that works.
However, there is a much easier way to do it, and you don’t even have to leave Outlook. All you need to do is share your calendar availability to quickly pin down suitable dates and times.
To do this, first you need to create a new e-mail or reply to an existing chain. Then, you insert calendar in one of two ways: either click the drop down under Attach Item then select Calendar, or navigate to the Insert tab, where you can click Calendar.
Doing either of these options will open the Send a Calendar via Email pop-up. Here you can specify the calendar you wish to share (if you use more than one), as well as the date range to provide (the next 7 days, for example).
You also get the option of sharing – or indeed hiding – your meeting details. This means you can determine whether recipients see what appointments you have booked in, or simply get segments showing when you’re busy, free or have something tentative.
This window also allows you to set your working hours or patterns, so your recipients don’t schedule something in when you’re not at your desk.
Finally, just click the OK button and your email will be accompanied by a get a clear breakdown of your availability, so the recipients can organise a suitable meeting accordingly.
Whilst this works for smaller meetings, it may not be quite so straightforward for those with lots of attendees. To this end, try Microsoft’s own FindTime add-in. This creates polls within Outlook so that everyone invited to a meeting can put forward their preferred choices – all without having to leave their email and use third party software.
FindTime can be easily installed through Microsoft’s Get Add-ins feature.