If you use Microsoft Outlook Calendaring to book meetings and resources such as meeting rooms, double bookings can be a common and frustrating occurrence.
Here’s 5 top tips to help you avoid it happening:
1. Don’t book meetings as All Day Events
‘All day events’ are intended for things like anniversaries and birthdays and as such the default setting for this is ‘Show time as Free’ (as you wouldn’t want your aunt’s birthday to show your calendar as blocked out for the day).
You have probably seen all day events such as Public Holidays appear as banners in your Outlook Calendar, and that they don’t block out your entire day.
This means that if you send an invitation to an event that will last all day to co-workers – or indeed a room – and mark it as an ‘All day event’ the default action will be to show the invitee’s calendar time as free.
This is dangerous as it means the people and resources you’ve booked could still be booked by someone else.
The best solution is to create an appointment with the desired Start and End times, and check that you set Show time as ‘busy’.
2. Don’t Change, Delete or Update Meetings without Sending an Update
It’s vital that if you cancel, delete or move a meeting, that you send an update to all attendees and resources. Put simply, if you don’t send an update, people and meeting rooms can get double-booked or still shown as ‘booked’, when they’re no longer required.
If you use Outlook 2003, it’s possible to ‘delete a meeting without sending a cancellation’. Avoid selecting this option at all costs, as it could mean leaving someone’s time or a much-needed meeting room booked in the company calendar. See next point about working with later versions of Outlook.
3. Don’t try to get around the system.
If you use Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2010, you will notice it’s hard to change any element of a meeting without being forced to send an update to everyone or at least the person or resource you are adding or deleting. Even though you might think it could be useful in certain situations, don’t try to use workarounds as you risk getting your own or other’s calendars out of kilter. For example, if you organise a meeting, but then realise you won’t be around, delete the meeting and get someone else to re-organise the meeting, don’t try to delete yourself.
4. Avoid using your mobile to work with calendar invitations
Only accept or decline meetings from within your email application. Meetings responded to elsewhere (i.e., iPhone, iPad, Android, etc) are known to result in missed updates and changes that don’t get properly synchronised back to the main Outlook Calendar.
5. Remove a meeting properly
If you receive a meeting cancellation, click Remove from Calendar to remove the meeting from your calendar. Deleting the cancellation from your Inbox won’t remove the meeting from your calendar. This won’t result in a double booking as such, but it can create a lot of confusion.