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outlook frustrated female

Outlook Awareness: Avoiding etiquette violations in the Outlook calendar

December 17, 2014

Internally within my own company and externally through social media channels, I have been speaking a lot about “Outlook Awareness.” Outlook Awareness is a strategy driving the courteous use of everyone’s favorite emailing and scheduling tool—the Outlook calendar. By employing a little Outlook Awareness in our day-to-day lives, we can alleviate the common annoyances we all experience.

However, we must first define the problem, and today my focus will be on the calendar function.

The common violations associated with Microsoft Outlook’s calendar

Double-booking calendar invites

Double-booking over someone’s appointment already in calendar is a big no-no. I can’t help but think you either did not look at my calendar or you looked at it and double-booked me anyway. I’m not sure which is worse.

You can think of calendar spots like a dinner reservation. I wanted to dine with my fiancée after a theater performance in Washington, DC, and knew I’d need a reservation for a certain restaurant, so set it two weeks in advance. An angry gentleman entered while we were being seated, belligerently demanding a table and generally causing a scene because there was none available (at a restaurant where it is known that reservations are mandatory).

By the same token, double-booking over another appointment suggests you do not care about the time of others or the work they have already put into something.

Booking someone’s last available time slot

I know I am not the only one whose calendar is stacked on certain days. And there is nothing worse than someone scheduling a “quick catch-up” in my last available 30-minute time slot (thanks—the whole using the restroom or eating lunch thing is overrated anyways).

It reminds me of the upcoming holidays. Many of us travel to two locations for an early meal with one side of the family and a late meal with the other side. The logistics around this scheduling can be challenging and something like a flat tire can throw off your entire schedule. Don’t be the flat tire of someone’s calendar.

Not reading the calendar invitations you receive

I love going out to restaurants and trying new food. Whether it is my first time going somewhere or my 100th, I analyze the menu and prepare myself for when the server comes over. What I do not do, however, is go into a restaurant, ignore the menu and ask the waiter to explain everything to me when the information is available right in front of me. That approach would be a waste of everyone’s time, and could have been mitigated by reviewing the information that was already available.

Similarly, calendar invites often lay out critical agendas, action items to be discussed and other topics of importance. Don’t shortchange the work of others by ignoring the information that is already available.

Five tips to improve your Outlook Awareness

1. Look at the shared calendar of all attendees prior to scheduling anything—and start this process as early as possible because calendars fill up fast. Do not ever double-book someone.

2. If someone has numerous calendar entries on a given day, give them the respect of booking your entry for another day.

3. When sending a calendar invite, write clear expectations for all parties attending the meeting or call.

4. When receiving a calendar invite, read the invitation and associated attachments ASAP. Reviewing this material prior to the meeting or call can eliminate those clunky meeting starts while the unprepared get up to speed on everyone else’s time.

5. Always remember there is someone on the other side of the computer screen, and their time is just as important as yours. Consider that when sending out any request or invitation.

While it is impossible to eliminate all of the annoyances associated with Outlook, we can partner together to make our Outlook Awareness stronger.

Everyone has their own Outlook Awareness pet peeves. Please help the workplace get better by sharing yours in the comments.

Joey Iarossi is a senior proposal writer who helps develop IT strategies in support of TEKsystems’ 6,000 clients. In his downtime, he enjoys the outdoors, traveling and conversing with his cat.

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