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

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To meet these challenges successfully, you might find the following strategies helpful:

  • Use the shared calendars of your colleagues to look for convenient times, and thus automate as much of the meeting planning as possible.

  • Optimize your own calendar to help colleagues when they are trying to set up meetings and to receive more reasonable meeting requests yourself.

  • Plan meetings more consciously—as few meetings as possible with as few participants as possible.

  • Set up more efficient, more effective, and shorter meetings by preparing them well.

  • Provide an agenda, contact data, preparation materials, and other information beforehand at a central location.

  • Set up a system to control what is under review or being edited, to avoid having several people change the same document simultaneously.

Technical Requirements for Using This Chapter

Outlook can be installed in single-user mode with a local data file, or your data can be stored on a Microsoft Exchange server. Using an Exchange server has several advantages, such as access to shared calendars from colleagues and instant wireless synchronization with your smartphone even when your computer is turned off. Some of the functions described in this chapter are available only if you use an Exchange server. Even if you are a freelancer working from a home office on your own, you can rent an Exchange mailbox and user account from various service providers for a monthly fee. If you later choose to hire a virtual assistant for a few hours each day, you can just book a second account with your provider for a small additional fee so that your assistant can manage your inbox for you and will always know when you’ll be available for client meetings and conference calls. If you have a small business with fewer than 10 people who need to share their calendar and other data with each other, in most cases it’ll also be cheaper and easier to use a hosted Exchange solution from a third party instead of setting up your own Exchange server in your office.