Friday, October 31, 2014

Share your availability for specific dates to meeting organizer (Applies to Microsoft Outlook)

Do you ever get an e-mail from someone who is trying to arrange a meeting/conference call with multiple people who are at different organizations or institutions?  It often goes something like this, "Can you give me your availability for these dates or date range?"

If they were within your organization, you would just tell them to schedule using your Enterprise Microsoft Outlook.  Often people are unaware that they can schedule meetings like this, or are hesitant to do so.  They may also be uncertain if your Outlook calendar is up to date.

But what if the person organizing the meeting or conference call does not have access to your Outlook calendar?  They may use a variety of tools like Doodle or Calendly etc but these require you a follow a link and fill out multiple check boxes while viewing your calendar in another window.  Quite painful and time-consuming.  You have a couple of easier options:
  • Publish your Outlook calendar to the Web or
  • Sync it with a Google Calendar that you can share with someone
But both these options may have security or privacy risks particularly if you put sensitive information into your calendar or work at a health care facility and have to abide by HIPAA Privacy rules.

e-mail your calendar



A simple option for this problem is to e-mail your availability for the specific date range using the Outlook e-mail calendar functionality.  This is super simple and something folks may not be aware of.  The steps are explained here by Microsoft.  

The recipient gets an e-mail that looks like this:

Try it the next time you get a message asking for your availability.  It will save you a lot of email and phone tag and your colleagues will appreciate it.

The main risk is that if they don't schedule something soon, the calendar you sent them might be out of date.