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How to Schedule Meetings So They Are Convenient, Effective, and Fun

This chapter from Effective Time Management: Using Microsoft Outlook to Organize Your Work and Personal Life gives you tips on how to quickly and effectively prepare meetings with Outlook and Microsoft SharePoint, and exchange data and documents for review as a team to save you and your colleagues precious time and achieve better results.

IN THIS CHAPTER, YOU WILL

  • Send meeting requests with Outlook.

  • Use the calendar overlay.

  • Optimize your calendar.

  • Prepare meetings more effectively.

“A Total Chaos Squad!”

IF YOU frequently need to plan meetings with colleagues whose schedules are very full and who are hard to reach, the Scheduling Assistant in Microsoft Outlook can be a big help. However, if you are too rash, Outlook meeting requests can become a curse rather than a blessing. This chapter gives you tips on how to quickly and effectively prepare meetings with Outlook and Microsoft SharePoint, and exchange data and documents for review as a team—to save you and your colleagues precious time and achieve better results.

How much time and money do you waste in unnecessary, badly prepared, or ill-structured meetings? Just add up hourly rates and loss of productivity for time spent getting very little done. Do you frequently look for information, but can’t reach the colleague who could supply it, which means that you have to wait hours or until the next day?

The Problem: Way Too Many Inconvenient Meeting Requests and Insufficient Preparation

Some of the most common problems in this area of cooperation have the following causes:

  • Too many meetings that take too long and leave too little time for other things.

  • Meeting requests that are scheduled at very inconvenient times because they are squeezed in too late, when all other times are already taken for the next few days.

  • It takes a lot of back and forth until you finally come up with a meeting date and time that works for everybody. Some people don’t keep their calendar up to date, and others just put in a fake appointment from 5:00 A.M. until 11:00 P.M. each day to block their calendar for any requests (but because they have to be at some of the meetings, they end up receiving requests for the most inappropriate times possible...).

  • Unclear meeting goals, or very different meeting expectations.

  • No preparation or inadequate preparation, and lots of aimless chatter without a time limit.

  • Too many participants, some of whom the topic doesn’t concern and who therefore have nothing to contribute and only waste their time by being there.

  • Missing, obsolete, overly comprehensive, or unread documents.

  • No access to data required by everyone in the team, such as the contacts maintained by another colleague.