Rules to Better Calendars - 24 Rules
It's important to use your calendar correctly as it's your main organizational tool and how others view your time.
Since calendars are often used with emails, you should also have a look at Rules to Better Email.
If you wish to organize a meeting that involves some of your colleagues and a client, instead of sending an email, send an appointment. Sending appointments is convenient because all the user has to do is click 'accept' and it is in their calendar.
This way Outlook will remind your colleagues about the appointment and you can update them if any changes are made.
If the appointment is for 3 days or less, send a separate appointment for each day. This is because multiple-day appointments appear at the top in your Outlook Calendar, so you risk missing the appointment (see below).
A lot of people talk about appointments and plan to do it later. E.g. you’re at the dentist and they give you a card with your next visit’s time written on it. People take the card and plan to enter it into their calendar later.
A better way is to stop, pull out your phone, and enter it immediately before leaving the dentist.
Similarly, you might be on the phone with a client and arrange a date and plan to enter it in later. A better way is to say “Hang on a second while I shoot you an appointment for the time.”
Locking in time as soon as possible is a big efficiency gain, and helps to avoid any possible mistakes or double bookings.
One of the least successful ways to get an appointment is to ask for one. The reason is that by asking for a meeting, you're creating hurdles. A hurdle for you to look at your calendar for available times, a hurdle for them to look at their calendar, a hurdle to reply to the email. And then there is the obstacle that arises when their proposed time conflicts with something you're doing, and the process begins again. Even for people who don't have busy calendars, these meetings often don't happen because they slip down the inbox.
The better way to get an appointment with someone is to throw an appointment their way. You have a higher chance of it sticking if it appears in their calendar. You will be amazed at your success rate. That said, make sure you soften the appointment with something like “if there is a better time for you, let me know”.
It is a good idea to send the appointment a few weeks out, it is less confronting and less demanding than finding a meeting in your calendar for the next day (or the same week).
The obvious caveat is that you shouldn't send meeting requests to people who have no idea who you are, that's just spam in a different vehicle.
To: Adam Cogan Subject: Intro to SSW - Marni
Figure: Bad example - Leaving the ball in their court
To: Adam Cogan Subject: Intro to SSW - Marni
Figure: Good example - Sending the appointment first. They can change the time if necessary, but it's in their calendar
Make sure appointments have address details unless it's obvious for all attendees.
It's important to always add the address information in appointments when a third party is included. Example:
- A client meeting at your location
- A meeting at the client location
The exception is for internal meeting appointments.
In internal, you should invite a co-worker to work with you in the specific room and not include the address. Example:
- SSW Boardroom Sydney
- SSW Boardroom Brisbane
- SSW Chapel Sydney
When sending an appointment, it's a good idea to choose your subject/title intelligently so that people can see all the information they need to see on the Subject of the Appointment.
For example, if the appointment is a meeting request you should include the names of the persons attending that appointment. Another example is flight bookings or hotel bookings. Including the flight number and/or Hotel name in the Appointment Subject so that you can see the information without having to open the item. Think about what the recipient sees in their calendar and try to make it as clear as possible.
CRM users making bookings should keep their naming standards consistent.
Whenever you have to modify the time, attendees, or subject of an appointment, always send the updated appointment with comments at the top to explain why you want to make these changes.
UPDATED: Moving to Thursday as Adam could not make it
Figure: Good example – changing the date or time
UPDATED: Adding Uly since he may want to know that we are working on TimePro this day
Figure: Good example - adding someone as per Do you know how to add or remove someone from the conversation?
UPDATED: Changed subject as we will be taking about Marketing first
Figure: Good example – changing the subject. Learn more on Do you know when you should change a subject?
This technique helps alleviate confusion.
To: SSWBrisbaneAll Location: SSW Brisbane office Start time: 2022/11/20 @ 1PM End time: 2022/11/20 @ 2PM Subject: Free Lunch from Thai Restaurant
UPDATED v2: Changed attendees from SSWAll to SSWBrisbane
UPDATED v1: Changed Subject
Figure: Good Example - Explaining the change that has been made using the prefix "UPDATE:"
Note: Using brackets is also an option
Often your conversation flow with someone will go from a phone call to emails, to an appointment, and then back to emails.
It's nice to be able to look back and see the whole history in one thread, so you will need to be able to Reply All to an appointment to continue the email conversation after the meeting.
Outlook makes this easy:
- Option 1: Right-click on the appointment in your calendar and click "Reply All"
- Option 2: Left click on the appointment in your calendar and type "Ctrl + Shift + R"
- Option 3: Use the ribbon as below
Reasons you might want to "Reply All" to an Appointment include:
- Continuing the conversation after a meeting
- Reminding someone about an upcoming meeting (especially if you know they have unwieldy calendars)
- Getting more information before a meeting
One of the great things about email is that as a conversation progresses, you always have the thread history that you can refer to for context.
Calendar appointments, on the other hand, don’t have this. Therefore, if you make plans via email, and that email conversation includes details like times, agendas, locations, etc. It’s usually a good idea to copy the email text into the body of the calendar appointment. That way you’ve got the history and context right there, so the attendees don’t have to go searching for it in their inbox.
Warning: With calendar appointments, there is a risk of people accepting the appointment without reading the content – it doesn't happen with emails. If you are initiating an appointment that has a task in it (when you expect a ‘done’) then duplicate the content of the appointment into an email.
To: Adam, Jason, Tom Subject: Meet with the SSW software architects and talk about CodeAuditor When: Friday, 30 July 2021 9:30 AM-10:30 AM (UTC+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney. Where: SSW Sydney Boardroom
(copy of email - as per rule https://rules.ssw.com.au/duplicate-email-content-in-a-calendar-appointment)
I am the Scrum Master of the upcoming Northwind project and I’d like to understand the specific performance and code quality requirements
- Can you meet with me and review the current SSW CodeAuditor rules we need to enforce per sprint for the upcoming Northwind project?
- Once I understand, can you communicate those rules to the developers on the project?
Figure: Calendar appointment with tasks should be copied from an email, so the items assigned get read via the email (better visibility), and also the email can get replied to with a ‘done’
Avoid putting the date and time into the text field of a meeting since these are often overlooked when changing the meeting time/date metadata.
When you would like to propose a new time for an appointment that someone has sent to you, use the Propose New Time button in Outlook instead of simply declining the message. By using the Propose New Time option, the requestor can easily accept your proposed time, rather than having to edit the previous appointment.
Instead of simply declining the message and typing your proposed time in the message body, propose a new time as follows:
Figure: Good Example - The new time is proposed, and the person who sent the original appointment can easily accept your proposal (or view all proposals if there are multiple recipients)
We've all been part of that email chain... "Let's meet to discuss this", "When are you free?", "I can do Friday", "Friday's no good, what about Monday?", "I'm free in the morning", "Penny can't make that, how about Tuesday afternoon after 3?", etc.
AI can make scheduling meetings with multiple attendees much easier.
Note that both of the following solutions work best when you're dealing with people in your own organization, as they then have access to all calendar data, but with a bit of back and forth, they can still work for externals too. There are some options.
Note: The helpful tool Scheduler has a portal too at https://calendar.help/user/dashboard
Register yourself at Meet Scheduler before you can use this feature.
Open an email... not an appointment!
To: Adam Cc: Cortana@calendar.help Subject: Talk about Northwind project
Figure: after your message, add some request to Cortana as you would a PA
Cortana then handles all the back-and-forth emails to find a time when everyone can meet and then she sends out an invite on your behalf.
More help for Cortana:
To make it easier to add Cortana to your emails, create a Contact.
Mobile – works great ✔
This option is best if you want to be selective about a few options for when to meet, and send a poll to attendees to choose.
FindTime shows what days and times work the best for you and the attendees when available using free/busy data.
Propose your selected times to all attendees and allow everyone to vote and quickly come to a consensus... and you’re done!
FindTime sends out the meeting invite on your behalf. More on https://findtime.microsoft.com
Note: Findtime’s competitor is https://calendly.com
Mobile – does not work ❌
As of Dec 2020, FindTime does not work on iOS.
By default, when you click the button to turn an appointment into a Teams Meeting, it adds the link to join the call to the bottom of the body content. It’s generally a good idea to move this up to the top, as It’s the 1st thing you’ll want people to do when they open the appointment on the day of the meeting.
Within a company, there are occasions that you are not able to access your computer to send sick emails, or you get a call from your client on the way to the office that you have to drive to a client site straight away; when such things happen, you need someone else to update your calendar when you call in, so others are aware of your availabilities.
Always make sure that:
- Admin people are able to access your calendar with full permission in order to add/edit/delete appointments for you.
- The whole organization can see your full calendar details.
Do this to allow Admins to edit your calendar permissions:
- Open Outlook (or Outlook Web) | Click Calendar | Click "Share Calendar" | Click "Add..." | Add the Admin group | Select "Can edit" Note: Check you are looking in the right address book using the "Address Book" dropdown if you cannot find a user or group.
Now do this to allow the whole organization to see your full calendar details:
- Open Outlook (or Outlook Web) | Click Calendar | Click "Share Calendar" | Click "My Organization" | Select "Can view all details"
Once the permissions are given, opening other people's calendar is as easy as 2 steps:
- Go to the Calendar tab in outlook and click "open a Shared Calendar"
- Choose the calendar you want to open in the pop-up form
Then you can have this shared calendar shown in your Outlook.
If someone has shared their calendar permissions with you, you will be able to check their calendar directly without needing a conversation.
Imagine someone wants to book some time with you. Offer to look up the calendar and book in time straightaway.
Bad Example - "Try calling him."
If someone has shared their calendar permissions with you, you will be able to send appointments on their behalf.
If someone wants you to send an appointment for them, but you don't want it to appear in your own calendar, this is the way to go.
When sending an appointment from someone else's calendar, you should always include that person as an attendee so that they also receive the same appointment email that their guests do. It shows them that the invitation has been sent, and also allows them to check for any mistakes or additional information that needs to be added.
Sometimes your schedule is chockers and you want to be transparent!
Have you ever needed to send your calendar schedule to someone to figure out the best time to schedule a meeting with them? Figuring out when someone is available within your organization is usually easy, as Outlook can show you automatically using the Scheduling Assistant.
If you're trying to coordinate with someone outside of your organization, this can be more challenging. In Outlook you can easily include a copy of your calendar schedule to make this process easier.
To insert a nice looking calendar and .ics file attachment into your email in Outlook, do the following:
While working in a team, there are three ways of seeing others' or team calendars.
You can share your Outlook calendar with another person or a group in Outlook. This option is useful when you want to share your personal calendar with others.
See Calendar Permissions - Do you share your calendars? for step-by-step instructions on how to share your calendar or see another person's shared calendar.
If you do not have access to someone’s calendar, you can see their tracked appointments in Dynamics 365 | Appointments.
This can keep track of important things like client work and leave. See Scheduling - Do you know how to book developers for a project? on how to add a booking to CRM Service Calendar.
Note: This will only show appointments that have been tracked in CRM.
When joining a new team, it's easy to be lost and not know when the important meetings are (like the Daily Scrum, or the next Sprint Review). Broadly, use Teams as the appointment source (rather than Outlook) then the benefit is that you can have a tab where you see it in the context of the team. Then, when a new member joins a Team they do not have to go looking for the appointment, and can easily join the call.
- Open up the Team's SharePoint site (you can find this easily by going to the Files tab and clicking Open in SharePoint)
- Go to the SharePoint site's Home page (from the menu on the left)
- Add a new page
- Add a Group Calendar web part to the page
- Publish the page
- In Teams, click add a new SharePoint tab to the Team
- Select the newly published SharePoint page
- Click Save
- All done, now all you need to do is setup some meetings for the channel (see rule: Do you know how to create recurring teams meetings for a channel?)! 😀
Make sure you pick "SharePoint" tab (as opposed to "Website" tab) for best possible integration:
Suggestion to Microsoft: This is an unnecessary extra hoop to jump through. If you create an appointment from a Team then this tab should be automatically created.
Warning: Only the organizer of a meeting can make changes to it and Teams offers no ability to transfer ownership of that meeting. To be fair you also can’t change meeting owners in Exchange.
You should always set your working hours in your Outlook calendar so others knows when you are working, this will help us to do resource scheduling. This is especially important for people who are not working as full time, e.g. part-time, contractors etc.
You can find this setting in File | Options | Calendar Options, it looks like below:
Once you set this up, you will be able to see the grey area in "Scheduling assistant" so you know what's the best time to book that person.
This only allows for times that are the same every day. You should also update the work hours field in your CRM Details Tab.
People take leave all the time, and it can be frustrating to find out that someone is not in the office after you've already sent an email to book them for a meeting. You should have a centralized system to check for everyone's availability.
The easiest way to do this is to use a shared calendar that is just used for leave. At SSW, we have the SSWAbsence calendar for this. This requires people to send their leave requests as an appointment to SSWAbsence.
Since this is just a calendar, you should also have these leave requests automatically to your admin managers (e.g SSWAdmin), so they are always notified of what's going on, although normally these managers will decline the notification rather than add it to their own calendar by accepting it.
If you have a date for any event appearing on your website, you should make it as easy as possible for the user to add it to their Outlook calendar. This is why we use ICS links for all dates on our site.
Next User Group Meeting: Wednesday, 15 February 2006 5:45 PM
Figure: Bad Example - User cannot add a reminder
Next User Group Meeting:Wednesday, 15 February 2006 5:45 PMAdd Outlook reminder
Figure: Good Example - User can click and add a reminder
By clicking the calendar link, users can easily add the event to their own calendars.
You have 2 options - VCS and ICS. Both let you add appointments to your calendar. We use ICS because it allows collaborating information between personal information management programs like Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Calendar, Mac OS, etc. over the Internet, independently of differences between program vendors or operating systems, which is not allowed with VCS.
It is always preferred to use icons to give users a proper idea about the file. Users can quickly get the idea by just looking at the icon.
When creating an appointment email for an initial meeting, make sure you include the words " initial " and " meeting " on the subject.
Subject: Northwind project with SSW and Bob
Figure: Bad subject - not clear it is an initial meeting
Subject: Initial meeting with SSW and Bob from Northwind Subject: Initial phone meeting with SSW and Bob from Northwind
Figure: Good subjects - Make clear it is an initial meeting by having both words
The Appointment should also be tracked (without regarding) in Dynamics 365 so that this information is readily available and reportable.
The idea behind it is that Power BI can then track and show this.
The following steps will help you to setup your calendar to allow us track your current availabilities and improve our team collaboration.
Step 1: Set your work hours in Outlook Read rule: Do you set your work hours in your Calendars?
Step 2: Share your outlook calendar with everyone Read rule: Do you know the ways to see others' calendars?
Step 3: Allow calendar admins to have full access to your calendar Read rule: Do you share your Calendar?
Step 4: Send your leave appointments to a centralized leave calendar Read rule: Do you use a centralized leave calendar?
It's usually easier for users to remember where given information is when it is associated with an image/icon. This is especially true for non-technical people or the ones that are not very familiar with digital workspaces.
An easy and fun way to alleviate this issue and boost user adoption to Microsoft Teams is to use Emojis in your channel names (using Windows Key + .)!