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Communication & Collaboration Resources: Calendaring best practices

Introduction

Microsoft Outlook is the official email and calendaring tool of the MIT Libraries. Below are best practices to enable Libraries staff to have a positive and productive experience with the calendaring tool, while helping their colleagues do the same. 

1. Setting work hours & sharing your calendar

  • Share your calendar with all library staff/all-lib.  Give “reviewer” permissions so people can see availability and details. Set meetings as private when/if needed. (Background: On 11/28/17, a decision was made by the Associate Directors that the calendar default should be "open to all-lib". Please contact fix-lib@mit.edu for help in applying the setting.)
  • Show your regular work hours/schedule on your calendar. This can be challenging for staff that works varied schedules, so do what you can.
  • Mac Users – you must set up and update your work schedules via owa.mit.edu – otherwise, it won’t reflect in Outlook for others.
  • See TS3's Exchange calendar documentation for more detailed technical help.

2. Blocking time & ongoing maintenance

  • Keep your calendar current with information on vacations, remote work, etc. Staff with many meetings may benefit from updating 3-4 weeks ahead of time.
  • Check your calendar often – at least daily – it can be easy to miss a last minute meeting addition or change.
  • Inform others in your department or work group as needed, in keeping with your team/departments norms. Each department/group should discuss this.
  • Add vacations/outages to resources calendars (e.g., Hayden Service Desk Calendar,) as defined by calendar owner/groups expectations/norms
  • When adding vacations/outages to other calendars, use the “all day” event and mark as free.
  • Mark a meeting/appointment “private” whenever necessary.
  • If staff are unavailable (for any reason) during their regular work hours, this unavailability should be communicated on the calendar, either by a meeting event, a private event, blocked off time for quiet work, etc.
    • Meeting organizers - be respectful of people’s calendars and follow up with a conversation with attendee if needed

3. Scheduling meetings

  • If you are the scheduler of a meeting - make clear to invitees:
    • What is the purpose of the meeting
    • Whether an invitee’s attendance is required or optional
    • Avoid using acronyms and abbreviations that not all staff are familiar with
  • Include a WebEx option for all meetings – refer to TS3’s WebEx at MIT help document.
  • Consider and be mindful of travel time, lunchtime, back-to-back meetings, etc.
  • If scheduling an all-staff event, check the Libraries Staff Events Calendar to avoid major conflicts and add your event once scheduled. 

4. Accepting & declining meetings

  • Staff should take action on invitations as they come into their Inbox (Accept, Accept as tentative, or Decline)
  • Respond to meeting invites in a timely fashion. See section 5 of email best practices for more information. (set anchor if possible)
  • If you're in the required line please only accept or decline
  • Avoid accepting as Tentative as it means no difference to the organizer – acceptable scenarios for using Tentative are if you are double booked, office hours, conflicts with personal appointment, if it is an optional event. Use your best judgement and communicate with meeting organizer as needed, be mindful if food is being ordered.
  • For large meetings where an rsvp is required please respond by the organizers deadline

5. Getting help