Microsoft Outlook is one of the most widely used software programs for email, but if you're only using it for email, you're missing out on a great productivity tool! This month's column looks at a few ways you can use the Outlook calendar to make scheduling easier.
* Add public holidays to your calendar automatically.
On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click Calendar Options. Under Calendar options, click Add Holidays. Select the check box next to each country/region whose holidays you want to add to your Calendar, and then click OK. Your own country/region is automatically selected. Color code your appointments.
* When you select a label for each appointment, Outlook will assign it a color, drawing attention to your most important activities and allowing you to see at a glance how you are spending your time. The available labels are:
- Important - Red
- Business - Blue
- Personal - Light Green
- Vacation - Gray
- Must Attend - Orange
- Travel Required - Aqua
- Needs Preparation - Olive Green
- Birthday - Purple
- Anniversary - Dark Green
- Phone Call - Yellow
- None - White
* Turn a message into an appointment or task.
What's the quickest way to deal with an email inviting you to a meeting or event?
Drag the message onto your Calendar and a new appointment will be created. The entire message will appear in the details section - all you need to do is edit the subject line, location, date and time! Send an RSVP if necessary, and now you can delete the email!
Not sure if you're going to attend? Set "Show time as" to "Tentative" and the appointment will display with a dashed border rather than a solid one. In this case you should also drag the message onto your Task Pad and a new task will be created. Edit the subject line to be a reminder to register for the event, and set the due date early enough that you won't miss out if you decide to go.
* Print pages for your paper planner.
If you like the idea of using the Outlook calendar, but are more comfortable using a paper planner, Outlook allows you to print pages in daily, weekly or monthly layouts, formatted to fit a variety of commercial planners. Print the whole year, or just today's schedule!
* It's not just about work.
There are many websites that allow you to download schedules right into your Outlook calendar, including sports teams and TV stations, among many others. You'll never have to miss your favorite team or show, and just think of the time you'll save!
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Janet Barclay, Organized Assistant, is a Professional Organizer, Virtual Assistant and Time Management Consultant. For more information visit http://www.organizedassistant.com.