Rules to Better Calendars

​​It's important to use your calendar correctly as it's your main organizational​ tool and how others view your time.

See Rules to Better Email.

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  1. Appointments - Do you send Outlook Calendar appointments when appropriate?

    ​​​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.
    Outlook Appointment
    Figure: Use Outlook appointments to easily synchronise your calendar with your client's

    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).

    Bad Multiple Day Appointment
    Figure: Bad Example - Multiple-day appointments appear hidden at the top of your Outlook calendar, so you might miss it, thinking that the time is free
    Good Single Day Appointments
    Figure: Good Example - Send a separate appointment for each day so you can clearly see it in your Outlook calendar

    You should always have calendar on your phone, so we can quickly add a client booking into the calendar, then add a note what to do with CRM (e.g. Uly please set regarding flag)​.

  2. Appointments - Do you avoid putting the time and date into the text field of a meeting?

    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.
    Appointment with date in the text Figure: Bad Example - The appointment with the date in the text. Appointment without date and time in the text Figure: Good Example - The appointment without time and date in the text.
  3. Appointments - Do you explain why you've deleted or modified an appointment?

    Whenever you have to modify the time, attendees or subject of an appointment, always send the updated one with comments at the top to explain why you want make these changes.

    This will help to solidify the changes and alleviate confusion.

    Figure: The note in brackets explains the change that has been made

    ​Related Rule

  4. Appointments - Do you know how to add an appointment in someone else's calendar?

    ​​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.
  5. Appointments - Do you know how to Reply All to an Appointment?

    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 1 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:

    Calendar window
    Figure: Open the appointment in your Calendar (You should already have Invited all the required people to attend)

    Figure: Click on "Contact Attendees" | "Reply to All with Email" if you created the appointment, or "Respond" | "Reply All" if you were invited
    Type the messages
    Figure: Send a friendly reminder!

    Reasons you might want to Reply All to an Appointment include:

    1. Continuing the conversation after a meeting
    2. Reminding someone about an upcoming meeting (especially if you know they have unwieldy calendars)​
    3. Getting more information before a meeting

  6. Appointments - Do you know how to send a schedule?

    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. 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 in to your email in Outlook, do the following:

    1. New email in Outlook, go to the ribbon and select Insert / Calendar:


      Figure: Ribbon Insert / Calendar
    2. Select your options to insert the fancy HTML calendar and .ICS file in to the email:


      Figure: Pick your calendar, date range, and amount of detail
    3.  You now have a nice looking calendar showing your availability, ready to send:


    Figure: Pretty calendar ready to send via email


  7. Appointments - Do you make sure your appointment has a clear location address?

    ​​​​Make sure appointments have address details unless it's obvious for all attendees.

    Bad location
    Figure: Bad Example - Appointment field should have addresses in location when appropriate
    map example.png
    Figure: Good example - Address is clearly identified in the location field, meaning it can be mapped using applications on smartphones

    It's important to always add the address information in appointments when a third party is included. i.e.:

    • A client meeting at your location
    • A meeting at the client location

    The exception is for internal meeting appointments:​

    I would invite Zune to work Saturday @ SSW (but not include the address)

  8. Appointments - Do you show all the necessary information in the subject?

    When sending an appointment, it's a good idea to choose your subject intelligently so that people can see all the information they need to see in 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.

    Bad Appointment Subject Figure: Bad Example - appointment subject with very little informationGood Appointment Subject Figure: Good Example - Appointment subject with all of the relevant information shown

    CRM u​sers making bookings should keep their naming standards consist​ent.

  9. Appointments – Do you use Propose New Time?

    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.

    Figure: Bad Example: The person who sent the appointment has to interpret your message, then go back in and edit the 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 from multiple recipients
  10. Calendar - Do you check someone's calendar before booking an appointment?

    ​​Imagine someone wants an appointment with a team member who has shared their calendar with you. Offer to look up the calendar and book in time straightaway.

    Try calling him.
    Bad Example
    Sure, I'll just look up Adam's calendar and see when he's free. Obviously it's not a good idea to call Adam now as he is on a plane. 
    Good Example
  11. Calendar - Do you give your PA administrator permissions for your calendar?

    ​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 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.

    So always make sure the admin people are able to access your calendar with full permission in order to add/edit/delete appointments for you. ​

    Click on Calendar Permissions
    Figure: Click on "Calendar Permissions"
    Set full access to admins
    Figure: Give admins full access to your calendar

    Once the permission is given, open other people's calendar is as easy as 2 steps:

    1. Go to the Calendar tab in outlook and click "open a Shared Calendar"
      Open a Shared Calendar
      Figure: Opening a shared calendar
    2. Choose the calendar you want to open in the pop up form:
      Choose the calendar you want to open
      Figure: Find the calendar you want
      Then you can have this shared calendar shown in your Outlook.
  12. Calendar - Do you know the ways to see others' calendars?

    ​While working in a team, there are three ways of seeing others' or team calendars.​

    Option 1: Using Outlook Calendar - See a person's calendar

    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.

    In the example below, Chris is going to share his personal calendar with the "SSWAll" group, so they can see what's he's doing from Outlook calendar.

    outlook365 shared calendar - result.png
    Figure: In Outlook, after connecting to Chris's calendar, now people can see his events on this week

    Here's how to share your calendar (in this example, with a group):

    outlook365 sharing using right click.png
    Figure: In Outlook, locate the calendar you want to share, right-click on it, and click "Properties..."

    Image of calendar sharing on Outlook 365 (v1812 and newer)
    Figure: On the permission tab, click "Add..." to add a person (or a group). You can also choose the details you want to share with them (Outlook 365 v1812)

    If you are still using Outlook 2016...

    Image of calendar sharing on Outlook non-365
    Figure: The old way (Outlook 2016 v1812 and older)
    Then the other person will receive a sharing notification email:
    outlook365 sharing using right click - email.png
    Figure: The invitees will receive a calendar sharing notification. Click "Open this Calendar" to open the calendar in Outlook
    Here's how to open someone's calendar in  Outlook (if they have shared it ​with you):
    outlook365 open-shared-calendar.png
    Figure: In Outlook, click "Open Calendar" | "From Address Book..." (this opens the Global Address List)
    outlook365 open-shared-calendar - address book.png
    Figure: Find their name, ensure their name is on the list, and click OK

    Option 2: Using the CRM Service Calendar - See everyone's calendar

    When you want to see what's your colleague's is doing, you can use the CRM Service Calendar.

    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.

    Figure: The CRM Service Calendar shows everyone's booked in client work and leave

    Note: This will only show appointments that have been tracked in CRM.

    Option 3: Using SharePoint's calendars - See a team's calendar

    You can also create a calendar in SharePoint which will be shared with the team in that SharePoint site. By sharing a calendar using SharePoint, new developers who have just joined the team can immediately look at the project's events (e.g. Daily Scrum meeting).

    In this scenario, the scrum master of "SSWSugarLearning" wants to share the calendar called "Team Calendar" with his team.

    To share a team calendar, you just need to give the calendar URL to the person in your team.


    Tip: You can also connect the SharePoint calendar to your Outlook. Here's how to do that:

    sharepoint-sharing-calendar - using outlook.png
    Figure: In SharePoint 2016: On the "Calendar" tab, click "Connect to Outlook" to show the calendar in your Outlook account

    If you are still using SharePoint 2007...

    Sync calendar between Outlook and SharePoint 2007
    Figure: The old way on SharePoint 2007


  13. Calendar - Do you set your work hours in CRM and your calendars?

    ​​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:

    Choose your working hours
    Figure: Outlook Calendar options for working hours settings

    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.

    You can see the working hours in Scheduling Assistant.
    Figure: Working hours will be shown in Scheduling Assistant
    CRM work hours.jpg
    Figure: In CRM, go to your User Profile | click the arrow to the right of your name in the breadcrumb | select work hours
  14. Calendar - Do you use a centralised leave calendar?

    ​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 which is just used for leave. At SSW, we have the SSWAbsence calendar for this. This requires people to send their leave request as an appointment to SSWAbsence.​

    Since this is just a calendar, yo​u should also have these leave requests automatically forwarded to your admin managers, 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. At SSW, we use the SSWAdmin group alias for this.

    Figure - Good Example:​ ​You can see everyone's leave in one place​
  15. Do you know to duplicate email content into a calendar appointment?

    ​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 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’s also the risk that people will accept the appointment without reading the content – people don’t do this with email.  So if you are initiating an appointment that has a task in it, where you would like a ‘done’… then duplicate the content of the appointment into an email.

    -----Original Appointment-----
    From: Uly Maclaren
    Sent: Saturday, 1 August 2020 2:43 PM
    To: Adam Cogan
    Subject: Meet with the SSW software architects and talk about Code Auditor
    When: Friday, 31 July 2020 9:30 AM-10:30 AM (UTC+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney.
    Where: SSW Boardroom

    (copy of email - as per rule
    Hi Adam,

    I am the Scrum Master of the upcoming Northwind project and I’d like to understand the specific performance and code quality requirements
    1. Can you meet with me and review the current SSW Code Auditor rules we need to enforce per sprint for the upcoming Northwind project?
    2. 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’​

  16. Do you make it easy to your users to add an event to their calendar?

    If you have a date for any event appearing on your site, 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 reminder

    Next User Group Meeting:
    Wednesday, 15 February 2006 5:45 PM ​
    ​ ​ Add Outlook reminder​​​

    Figure: Good Example - Showing use of Calendar icon

    By clicking the calendar icon you can easily add reminder to remind you about particular event out of your busy schedule.

    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 standard icons to give user a proper idea about the file. User can quickly get the idea by just looking at the icon.​

  17. Do you track your initial meetings?

    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 to Dynamics 365 so that this information is readily available and reportable.

    Figure: Initial Meeting created in Outlook and tracked to Dynamics 365

    The idea behind it is that Power BI can then track and show this.

    Figure: It's clear to see that there is no yellow in the past couple of months, which may indicate work drying up for Stephen's area