When Are You Available…?

**DISCLOSURE: While I am contracted to Microsoft Corporation, I am not an employee. The articles that I write are not meant to represent the company, nor are they meant to represent me as an employee or spokesman for the company. As has always been the case, all articles on this website represent me and nobody else.

Outlook LogoFor my non-admin readers, I am happy from time to time to share a post that applies to everyone!

I have had this e-mail exchange too many times.

Me: Let’s have a 30-minute call to discuss.

Them: Okay, what is your availability today?

Me: I have two open slots, from 12:15-12:45, and from 2:30-3:00.

Them: That doesn’t work for me… how about tomorrow?

Me: I have the following availability…

…and so on.

Because Microsoft Office Outlook manages both your e-mail and your calendar, there is a better way. It allows you to share your availability, and to let Them pick a convenient time. Let’s go through it.

1) In an outgoing e-mail message (either one you originated, or a reply) click on the Insert tab. Then click Calendar.

image

2) In the Send a Calendar via Email popup:

a) Select the relevant calendar you want to share.

b) Set the date range. (choose from Today, Tomorrow, Next 7 days, Next 30 days, Whole calendar, or Specify dates…)

c) Select the detail level you want to share. (choose from Availability only, Limited details, or Full details). I do not like to share any details, so I almost only use the first option. Nobody needs to know what meetings I have, only my availability.

d) I always select Show time within my working hours only. You can set your working hours by clicking on that option.

e) Select the email layout from the dropdown (either List of events or Daily schedule)

image

When you click OK, this is what you are going to see… and what your recipient will see too:

image

Notice that not only do we see all of the busy times on my schedule, but there is also an .ics file attached which your recipient can open in their Outlook calendar, so they can compare your availability to theirs visually.

I find this to be a much easier way of scheduling meetings, especially when there are multiple people involved.

Conclusion

I will not say that everyone uses Outlook for their email and calendar, but I suspect it is safe to say that a majority of my readers likely do. I have been using Outlook for both of these for nearly two decades. It is unfortunate that I, like most people, have not evolved how I use Outlook much during that time. The product has evolved tremendously over that time, and to not learn and use the new features is to leave money on the table. There are great features in the product that you will find and love… if you spend the time to learn them.

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