Advanced features of Outlook’s Scheduling Assistant

Office 365 / SharePoint Blog

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.


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