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Using Outlook effectively: part 1 – the calendar

Most accountants use Outlook for most of their appointments but few know how powerful the calendar function really is. This first in a series of three articles on Outlook (2007) focuses on how to make effective use of the calendar function.

Calendar view

Outlook’s calendar view is a great way to see the week’s workload at a glance, with tasks appearing on the date they are due. In this way you can see your appointments for the week and be pre-warned about work coming up that might need preparation.

Calendars subfolders

Like any folder in Outlook, calendars will accept subfolders. This means you can keep separate calendars for work and private appointments. You can also decide which ones to share/publish. To create a subfolder, click on the Calendar folder and select New.

Public calendars

To create a new public folder, right click on Public Folders, then select New. The new calendar will be available to everyone in the firm and could be used to track shared assets and facilities. For example, the boardroom could have its own diary with all meetings entered. Everyone can then easily see whether the room is free for a meeting when they want one.

To view multiple folders, select the Calendar icon and open the calendars you want to merge.

If the calendar has been opened before, simply tick the box next to the relevant calendars.

If the calendars have not been used before, then you will need to open them. A calendar in Public Folders can just be opened from Folder view but other users’ calendars will need to be opening by selecting File, Open, Other User’s Folder and then entering the name in the box or clicking Name and selecting from the list.

Both calendars should now appear side by side on the screen.

In this view, appointments can be dragged from one calendar to another to copy the appointments. So once the client appointment is booked, it can be quickly entered into the office diary.

If you want to see the calendars merged so appointments are shown together in the correct day, click the View in overlay mode arrow next to the appropriate diary.

To unmerge, simply click the arrow again.

Publishing a calendar using Office Online

Use Office Online to allow access to your calendar in such a way that you control access rights for individuals and ensure the information is up to date.

Any device that supports internet calendars can access this information; eg, those with an iPod, iPad or iPhone can add a read-only version of someone else’s diary to their device.

To use this service, first get a Windows Live ID. Go to http://get.live.com/getlive/overview and Sign Up.

Once you have an account (it’s free), right click on the Calendar folder and select Publish to internet then Publish to Office Online. Restrict the permissions so that only invited people can view the calendar.

Once the calendar has been set up, Outlook reminds you to send an invitation. This must be to someone with a Windows Live ID.

More people can be added or removed from the sharing list or the publishing options changed by right clicking on the Calendar folder again and selecting Publish to internet, Change publishing options.

Using reminders

Reminders are versatile and can be used with calendar items as well as email messages, contacts and tasks.

New appointment reminders

  1. Go to Tools and select Options.
  2. Go to the Preferences tab.
  3. In the Calendar group, select or clear the Default reminder check box.
  4. If you select the check box, enter the period before the appointment or meeting when you want the reminder to appear.

Reminders for existing appointments

  1. Open the appointment or meeting.
    Note: If the Open recurring item dialogue box is displayed, decide whether to change the reminder for this occurrence or for the entire series. Click either Open this occurrence or Open the series, and then click OK.
  2. Select Appointment tab; find Reminder (Options menu); and select the time you want the reminder to appear. To turn a reminder off, select None.
    Note:  There will be a default reminder which you can change individually for each appointment. There is a list of reminder times, all of which you can overwrite if necessary.

November 2013