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Tips and Tactics for a Better Digital Life


Chunking up your time in Outlook

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The default calendar view in the Microsoft Outlook shows the day broken up into 30 minute chunks. This make is really easy to add appointments of 30, 60, 90 etc minutes duration but don't feel constrained by this convention. For example, it's good practice to set a one hour meeting to run for, say, 50 minutes to allow your attendees to leave on time and arrive promptly at their next appointment. You may also find that this practice helps you enforce a more rigid meeting agenda so you get things done in the allotted time and you don't end up making all the important decisions as people are standing up to leave the room. We've all been there ;-)

You can also change your calendar's time chunking (that's the not exactly technical term) from the 30 minute default to something more suited to your needs. I have mine set to 15 minutes which makes it easy for me to add meetings scheduled to last 45 minutes instead of the usual 1 hour. To change your "chunking", right click on the vertical time list in your calendar day or week view and select something other than 30 minutes. If you're a busy doctor, select 5 minutes. If you're a lawyer paid by the hour select 60 minutes.

One final thought: when entering start and end times into a calendar appointment you can save time by not using the drop down list of suggested times but by typing the time directly into the box. Don't bother typing those fiddly colons though; Outlook's pretty good at understanding what you mean. Entering 945 will be accepted as 09:45. Similarly 1517 or 317p or 3p17 or p317 becomes 15:17, and 17 or 5p will become 17:00.

So think carefully next time you create a calendar appointment. Could you reduce the duration and still get things done? Could you finish earlier to allow yourself and other participants to get to their next meeting on time? Could you fit more into your day if every hour-long appointment took only 45 minutes? Would people arrive more promptly if the start time was 317p?