The tips and tricks in this blog post are to increase your productivity. If you use Outlook on a daily basis, check the list below for ideas you like.

1. Start Outlook in Calendar View

Your calendar should be your central point of focus for Outlook. It puts you in control of your time and empowers you to plan your day and reserve time for work sessions, meetings and  other important events. Alternatively, you can start Outlook in Email which means that you are simply reacting to your inbox……and what other people want from you.

Opening Outlook directly to your calendar view will help you in several ways:

  • see your day and plan mentally
  • organise your schedule based on priorities
  • prepare for important meetings and review necessary material

Configure Outlook to open with your calendar by clicking on File > Options.

In the menu window, choose Advanced and look for the Outlook start and exit section.

Finally, click Browse and choose the Calendar.

2. Optimise your meeting settings

The default meeting settings in Outlook aren’t the best. The default reminder is only 15 minutes before any meeting, and meetings don’t allow time for breaks in-between slots. Update these settings to make your meetings end at appropriate times and to be notified enough in advance to prepare.

Configure your meeting settings by clicking on File > Options.

In the menu window, choose Calendar and look for the Calendar Options section.

Check the box for End appointments and meetings early, then choose your desired time.

Next, update the Default reminder to a time that works for you. I prefer 30 minutes.

As a note, if you work longer hours than the standard 9 to 5, or you want to show yourself as available beyond those hours, you can change your availability in the top section, Work time.

3. Add a second time zone to your calendar

Not everyone works in a company where different time zones are a consideration.  At Mobile Mentor, we have employees in New Zealand, Australia and the USA, so trying to get meetings set up with people in different locations can be a pain.

If you are in a similar situation, you can add a second and even a third time zone to your calendar.

To add another time zone (up to three), click on File > Options.

In the menu window choose Calendar and look for the Time zones section.

Check the box to Show a second time zone (and for Show a third time zone if needed). Then choose the appropriate time zone(s) you want.

Be sure to name your original time zone as well as any additional ones. Those names will show in the top of the column in your calendar.

In the image below you can see Auckland and Nashville, respectively.

4. Make use of Meeting Categories

Outlook gives you the ability to categorise your messages, appointments and meetings. Doing this for appointments and meetings, in particular, is valuable as it allows you to visually separate your calendar by category e.g. work sessions might be red, while off-site for formal meetings could be in yellow and personal meetings could be in black. I’m a fan of reserving a category for offsite or formal meetings, in particular, as this quickly lets me know if I need to dress up. I review my calendar each night before I get ready for bed so I know if I need to dress up for client meetings the next day. Please note, you cannot make use of categories when creating meetings and appointments in the Outlook mobile app. Hopefully Microsoft fixes this soon *cough cough*.

Select an appointment or meeting and open the Meeting Occurrence tab in the menu.

Click Categorize then All Categories to open the category window.

In the menu window you can create new Categories, rename existing ones and delete those which are no longer relevant.

I recommend keeping your categories as functional as possible. Naming a category after a specific client, for example, may run you into problems later if you end up with 300 clients.

5. Add your Daily Task List to your Calendar View

Many people use Tasks within Outlook. Tasks help users keep track of such things as follow-up emails or activities that are time critical.

However, very few people take the time to add their tasks to their calendar view. I’ve seen many users switching between their Calendar and their tasks. To save time, simply add the Daily Task List to the bottom of your Calendar and get the best of both worlds.

In the menu, click the View tab then look for Daily Task List.

Click the Daily Task List button then choose Normal.

Now you will see your upcoming tasks for the week at the bottom of your calendar. You can even collapse the view to save vertical space and expand it when you want to review tasks.

Get Started

The only limited resource in your life is time. Make the most of your time with the Calendar app and these 5 simple tips.