Whereas many of us used to keep a diary for important and upcoming events or meetings, there’s been a steady encroachment on this by the advent of software capable of scheduling appointments and meetings and to integrate the whole process with email applications.
Developments in the future could revolutionise the manner in which businesses communicate with their customers but more on that later.
A number of applications are available, including Thunderbird’s Lightning and MS Outlook.
To set up an appointment in Outlook either click ‘New/Appointment’ or go to the ‘Calendar’ on the menu at the left and double-click directly on the date and time you want to make an appointment for. Both of these methods will bring up the box that allows you to create an appointment or schedule a meeting.
From here you can adjust the time to suit the occasion and provide it with a name and location. I often copy and paste information about an appointment from an email or website directly into the large description area to provide even further information for use when the time comes, though you can just as easily ‘attach’ such a document to the appointment.
lf it’s an appointment that recurs – such as a birthday, regular meeting, or task such as putting the recycling out or maintaining your bicycle, click on the ‘Recurrence’ icon and choose how regularly you’d like it to occur and for how long. Also consider adding a variety of labels, such as ‘Busy’, ‘Out of office’, ‘Phone call’ and ‘Free’ to the appointment if it’s publicly available, and be sure to set the ‘Reminder’ sufficiently before the event to give you the time to prepare and travel to it..If there’s no one else you’re inviting then save and close it.
If you have people to invite, click on the ‘Invite attendees’ icon and add their email addresses into the ‘To:’ line. To find out when they’re available, click on the ‘Scheduling’ tab, and scroll along until you find a point in time when everyone’s free. Click there and that will set the time accordingly. Once it’s all set up and looking professional, ‘Send’. Your appointment gets sent to their inbox. If they accept the invitation, it becomes visible for others so they too can avoid any clashes when organising meetings.
If you’re using the Open Source Thunderbird email application, there is currently a calendar extension available called ‘Lightning’. You can download the latest version from here and install it. Restart your computer and Thunderbird will now have the calendar beneath the folders in the bottom left hand corner and a new menu drop down list called ‘Calendar’. You can set up appointments for yourself within this, add reminders to events and import and export the calendar. Much as it looks good and what features there are are very easy to use, the functionality still had a long way to go at the time of writing. Do bear in mind, however, that Open Source Software is renowned for it’s speed of development so chances are it’s been updated by the time you read this!
We’ll be going into more depth about Calendars, and how to put them online, as well as reviewing the state of Open Source Software as the information age develops apace. Tune in next week, reader, for the next instalment!