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Before you go on vacation or leave the office for an extended period of time (for example, before you leave for Thanksgiving), there are a few small things you can do to make your colleagues aware of your upcoming absence and to plan accordingly.
It is generally a good idea to let the people you work with know that you are going away. Over the years, I have seen many different techniques, and this one seems to be the most effective while being the least intrusive: schedule a meeting. The key is to remember that this meeting is for their calendars and not for yours. This way, while you are away, they will have their calendar as a reference
Next you should set your Out of Office message anytime before you leave.
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You can use the Out of Office assistant any time you want to let people know that you will be delayed in responding to their e-mail. For example, just after you return from vacation and have a mountain of e-mail to go through, it is wise to set up an Out of Office message indicating that you will not be responding quickly. If you are working on a project, even if you are in the office, setting an Out of Office message will help set realistic expectations of when people will receive a response.
You can still send automatic replies to incoming e-mail, just like the Out of Office feature. For details, see this article. If you have a Hotmail account, you can use Hotmail’s vacation feature.
Melissa MacBeth Program Manager, Outlook
If you mark the meeting as Free it has the drawback of the "vacation" not being visible in Group Schedules for example. That is; people could (try to) schedule a meeting with you even though you are out-of-office. So possibly you should set the time as "Out of Office" instead?
I am assuming the mini calendar only shows if you have Exchange 2007? I have Oulook 2007 but only Exchange 2003 and I do not see htose screenshots..
My Out of Office does not have the Start time/End time and Inside/Outside Organization options. I am on Outlook 2007 w/Exchange server. Is this something that would be disabled on the server? Any way I can get it? Thanks,
This trick about the vacations in the calendar is sooooo great! Thank you! I sent it to everyone in the office. We'll always do that from now on!
Thanks for the comments! Eric - if you mark it it as Out of Office, then the people who receive the meeting will be marked as Out of Office. On your own calendar, you should add a separate appointment that is marked as Out of Office. Riaz - the mini calendar is typed out by hand - it is not a feature of Outlook. JimC - the dates, and inside and outside of your organization is a feature of Outlook 2007 with Exchange *2007*. If you have Outlook 2007 running against an older version of Exchange, you will not see that feature. -Melissa
One other thing: TURN OFF THE REMINDER. I love getting those notifications 18 hours before -- or even better -- 15 mins before midnight about someone's travel or vacation starting, especially with my WinMo phone beeping next to me in the middle of the night. Great post, Outlook team! I sent this out to my extended team and I think it'll be getting forwarded around.
That in-line calendar looks handy -- here's a PowerShell script that saves you from doing it by hand: www.leeholmes.com/.../ShowingCalendarsInYourOOFMessages.aspx
We go a step further in our office for extended times away. In addition to setting the out-of-office assistant, we have established a vacation rule which forwards our e-mails to someone else in the department. The rule includes the forwarding and also moving the original to a folder marked "sent to....". Although this is not for everyone, it helps in our office where we share responsibilities.
This is a very handy feature however I am having some trouble getting it working correctly. When I send a meeting invitation using the process in the blog my colleagues are asked to accept or decline the meeting request. I have confirmed that I am turning responses off. Any thoughts on what I am doing wrong? Is there a difference between a meeting request and scheduling an appointment?