All Day Events in Outlook

Using All Day events in your calendar can be very helpful to remind you of important events or dates without cluttering up your calendar.

To create an All Day event, go to your Calendar in Outlook and click on New Appointment.
Click the All day event checkbox beside start and end time to indicate this is all day event.

Outlook’s default status for All Day events is FREE, so creating an All Day event still keeps that time as FREE on your calendar. This makes sense and is actually quite handy, because most of my All Day events have little to do with my availability on a certain day.

In my previous work life, before we moved it to SharePoint, my calendar was the team’s calendar, and thus was shared with everyone in the department. I used All Day events to capture my team’s out of office notices and birthdays, term start dates and other events of note.

So while it is handy that I am not marked out of the office when creating All Day events, it does mean that if I actually do want to mark myself unavailable for an entire day, I need to manually set the status for that event to out of office.

Outlook: Meeting Options

From within the Options section of the MEETING tab, change FREE to Out of Office. That will generate a little purple rectangle next to your appointment on your calendar and will also populate your unavailability to the organization when they use Schedule Assistant to set an appointment.

That way you can be sure that nobody invites you to a meeting when you’re supposed to be at your relative’s wedding. Yes, that has happened.

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Advanced features of Outlook’s Scheduling Assistant

In my previous post I introduced the Scheduling Assistant in Outlook, which allows you to find a meeting time suitable for everyone.

Many times when using the scheduling assistant feature you should be able to find some meeting slots on the calendar that work for everyone, but the more varied the calendars, the more difficult that becomes.

If you’re having a difficult time finding a suitable time for everyone, there is an OPTIONS button at the bottom of the screen which contains an AUTOPICK feature. Autopick will select the next available time at which everyone is available.

Show Work Hours Only

If you’re using the Autopick feature and the only time it suggests for you is about midnight or 5am (yes, it did that to me), then from the OPTIONS button, choose Show Only My Working Hours.

Required vs Optional Attendees

Sometimes it’s going to be just plain impossible for you to get everyone together for the meeting you wish to hold. In that case, think about who you absolutely need to have at this meeting, and set your other attendees as optional.

As a default, Outlook sets all attendees as required and places a red icon beside each person’s name.

Clicking on that red icon generates a drop-down menu where you can choose Optional attendee.

Using Autopick to find a meeting time for All Required people can sometimes be easier than finding one for all, and then you’ll at least be assured that those key contributors or decision makers will be available.

For one of my committees, the only times when all of us are available actually were midnight and 5am. By setting everyone as optional attendee, I was able to find a number of meeting times where most of us could make it.

Try this feature and let me know in the comments below how it works for you.

Scheduling Assistant in Outlook

With many of us keeping our office calendars in Microsoft Outlook, scheduling meetings becomes much easier, especially when you use the Scheduling Assistant.

You can find the scheduling assistant in the SHOW section in the MEETING ribbon when you create a New Appointment.

Under the All Attendees box, you can enter each invitee on a separate line. Doing so will generate a number of blue BUSY boxes, some striped TENTATIVE boxes, and/or some purple OUT OF OFFICE boxes next to their name, indicating the times that they are busy or free.

Most of the time when using the scheduling assistant feature you should be able to find some meeting slots on the calendar that work for everyone, but the more varied the calendars, the more difficult that becomes.

The Scheduling Assistant has some more advanced features which I will cover in a future post.

Quick Parts in Outlook (and Word)

This tip about Quick Parts came from my colleague Annabelle Fuselier from VT Business Services:

Wouldn’t it be great to save time on typing the same e-mail over again? Well there is a feature in Outlook that will help you work smarter and not harder. It’s called Quick Parts and the feature is not only handy in Outlook it also works in MS Word. I have personally used this feature to request HokieMart/Banner approvals, sending screening matrices or meeting requests.

Creating a Quick Part in Outlook

  1. Create a new e-mail message
  2. In the body of the message type your text or select from a previous e-mail.
  3. Highlight the text you are using
  4. Click the insert tab
  5. In the “text” pane, select Quick Parts.
  6. Click on “Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery.”
  7. In the “Create New Building Block” screen:
    • Type in a descriptive name for the text or graphic in the Name field.
    • Type in a description of the Quick Part in the Description field.
    • Don’t change any other fields.
    • Click OK.
  8. When you want to insert the Quick Part into an e-mail message, click the Insert tab, select “Quick Parts” from the text pane.
    • scroll to the Quick Part you want to insert, and click it.

The process is the same in Word. However, Quick Parts are not shared between Word and Outlook, so you have to create separate ones for each application.

Creating OneNote pages from your Outlook Task List

In a previous post I talked about creating an Outlook Task from OneNote. The connection between these two applications works both ways. You can also create a task in Outlook and then use the Connect to OneNote button to create a page for that task in a notebook.

You can then use that page to add files, any other contributing notes, etc. Any time you select the task in the future and click the OneNote button, the specific OneNote page opens.

This also works for task lists that you have created on SharePoint, and then linked to your Outlook. You can connect tasks from those SharePoint lists directly to your OneNote files.

The result of this is a complete task management system, including projects, tasks and notes, all into one powerful system.

Embed Files into OneNote to keep them handy

Whether it’s a PDF or Word Document I need to proofread, or a video file that I need to watch and respond to, having the ability to keep these documents directly in OneNote versus keeping track of folders in a hard drive, makes my life a lot easier.

Oftentimes I am presented with an issue that a department wants to resolve, but I already know I won’t have time that day to take care of it, I move any reference files files into OneNote from Outlook, SharePoint, or someone’s shared OneDrive file, so that I can keep the file right there with my notes. *I also keep the links to those original files handy in case I need them for later.

I am able to file that document into the section of OneNote and it’s with all the other notes about that department.

You can attach files directly from SharePoint or OneDrive and place them into OneNote. In order to do so, you will need the location of your document library from your web browser.

What you need to be aware of is that the file in OneNote is a snapshot of the original file, and any updates in OneNote won’t reflect in the original file, and neither vice versa.

Some would say that is a good thing and therefore a welcome feature, and some would say it’s an unwelcome limitation. I am on the fence as to whether it’s good or bad, but I appreciate it for what it is… a feature of OneNote and how it works.

In some cases you may have an option to right-click the file and choose “Open Original” but that option is not available in all cases.

Next time you’re working in OneNote and you need to reference a file, try embedding it directly into your page and see if that makes your work easier.

Creating Outlook tasks from OneNote

OneNote is great at making notes, whether it’s your own personal to-do list, or a collective task list generated at a meeting. The to-do items can be turned into Outlook tasks by using the Outlook Tasks feature.

All you need to do is click into a pertinent paragraph or to do item, and then click the Outlook Tasks button, which opens a drop-down of your Outlook Task options:

  • Today
  • Tomorrow
  • This Week
  • Next Week
  • No Date
  • Custom…

Then once you have created this Outlook Task, you’ll now be able to review your task list in Outlook.

When you open the task in Outlook, you now also get a link back to the OneNote page and when you double-click on that icon, it will open the OneNote file to the page that includes the task.

*This tip works in the desktop version of OneNote.