Today I’d like to introduce you to an altogether pleasant Outlook life hack. Say goodbye to the hectic of gulping a coffee between back-to-back meetings. Instead you can enjoy a welcome break that is automatically included in your calendar planning.
The Challenge Planning without Break
Meeting 10:00-10:30 am. Telephone conference 10:30-11:30 am. Appointment 11:30 am-12:00 pm. Is there even time to move from one room to the next? To enjoy a coffee? To gather your thoughts? Or at least to visit the bathroom?
I admit it: Before I encountered this life hack, that’s precisely what my schedule of appointments looked like. After all, Microsoft Outlook proposes the appointments that match my calendar. And these appointments are scheduled in increments of 30 minutes. Hardly anyone will change that manually. So every appointment starts at a full hour or on the half-hour mark – without a break in-between
The Solution: Automatically Planning Appointments with a Cushion
There’s a simple setting in Microsoft Outlook to solve the entire dilemma.
Just open Microsoft Outlook and complete the following steps:
1. Click on “File"
2. Choose “Options” in the window that opens
3. Then go to the “Calendar” section
4. Tick the box “End appointments and meetings early”
5. You can decide how much of a cushion you would like to have:
“Less than 1 hour“ – 0, 5, 8 or 10 minutes
“One hour or more – 0, 5, 10 or 15 minutes
Your calendar will then be shown as follows:
This means that the cushion is deducted from the scheduled time. A meeting that is planned for 08:30 to 09:00 am will end 5 minutes earlier because I have defined a cushion of 5 minutes for each 30-minute meeting in Outlook. I have also selected a cushion of 10 minutes for meetings that last one hour or longer.
Implementing the Outlook LifeHack Enterprise-Wide
Unfortunately, the automatic appointment setting only works for the person who plans the invitation to a meeting. In other words: Your colleagues will continue to be scheduled for the whole time (without a cushion) if they have not enabled the setting.
Two Options You Can Choose From
You tell all your colleagues about the life hack until they have finally implemented it.
Your IT managers create a group policy for Outlook, which defines the two cushions for upcoming appointments. Before this happens, though, all of the people involved should be asked to state their preferred cushion, of course.
My colleagues and I used to rush from meeting to meeting. Not only was this a drain on our nerves, it also cut into our motivation, mood and concentration. Some of us simply need a break between appointments in order to continue working efficiently. That has nothing to do with laziness. Quite the contrary. Studies have demonstrated that breaks help to boost productivity. So my tip: Schedule the breaks automatically to make your work more effective!
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