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Scheduling Meetings Without Ever Leaving Your Desk

Novell Cool Solutions: Tip
By Pamela Ann Pawlowski Kubricky

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Posted: 1 Jun 1999
 

Scheduling isn't what it used to be: no more calling each person you want to invite to a meeting, no more guessing whether a room is going to be available, no more crying in your cubicle because you can't figure out if three o'clock on Friday is a good time to schedule a group hug. Why has scheduling become so fabulously easy, you ask? In a word: GroupWise.

With GroupWise, you can handle it all right from your desk. Of course, if you're the executive type, you can still peremptorily fire off meetings to all your underlings without regard for human life. However, if you live the simple life where your four walls don't go all the way to the ceiling, GroupWise lets you schedule important meetings without incurring the wrath of every co-worker in your office. How? Busy Search and Auto-Date.

Busy Search is a kinder, gentler way to schedule meetings. No more stepping on toes like some corner-office Genghis Khan (not that there's anything wrong with that; GroupWise also caters to those with a copy of "The Art of War" on their desks).

Auto-Date, in addition to being really cool, helps prevent carpel tunnel syndrome: for you when you send multiple appointments and for everyone else, when they receive your numerous appointments. After all, why make people jump through all the hoops of having to individually accept 52 appointments when accepting one simple Auto-Date would do.

Schedule with and
without Busy Search
Your boss, pointing in your general direction, says, "Hey you, schedule a meeting, and make sure everyone can make it and that the conference room isn't already booked when we get there, or it's your hide!" So you say: "You know what you can do with your meeting . . ." (although you only say it under your breath, because basically you're a coward). No worries though. You have a powerful tool (not to be confused with a power tool) on your side: Busy Search. What Busy Search does is allow you to search the schedules of not only all the people you want to invite to a meeting, but also the schedules of conference rooms and other resources. Nifty. No, more than nifty. Stupendous. Here's how it works: click the Schedule New Appointment button on the toolbar in the Main Window, then click Address. Double-click the names of all the people and resources you want at the meeting. (By the way, resources can be all sorts of things--not just conference rooms; it just all depends on what your system administrator decides to define as a resource. For example, a resource could be an overhead projector, a company car, a hacky sack . . . you get the idea.)

If you're not sure of a resource's name, make your search easier: click View, Predefined Filters, Filter for Resources. GroupWise will come up with a list of resources for you to choose from. Double-click the resource(s) you want. Then, to change your Address Book back to normal, click View, Filtering Enabled.

Click OK to close the Address Book, then type the Start Date and the time you want the appointment to begin. If you're Genghis Khan, just click Send. For the rest of you, here comes the cool part: click Busy. When the dialog box comes up, you'll see a grid to the right that shows cross-hatched times of the people (or things) that are already scheduled. Here's what it looks like:

Picture

Click Auto-Select if you want GroupWise to find the first available time that is free for everyone. Or, you can drag the little rectangle that represents your appointment to a free time. When you're satisfied with your selections, click OK and then Send.

So you see, Busy Search can not only change your ability to schedule effectively, it can basically make you a more beautiful person. People will love you. The birds will sing. (Okay, maybe you'll only be more efficient--but you've got to start somewhere.)

Oh. One last word of advice: like we've said, the great thing about Busy Search is that you can see when everyone is scheduled, but Busy Search can really only be effective if everybody has an accurate schedule. (Fascinating how that works.) So what you need to do is schedule personal appointments for any time you'll be unavailable--whatever the reason. This will not only make everyone's jobs easier, it will also save you a lot of grief because your co-workers will stop glaring at you for making them reschedule appointments. To schedule a personal appointment then, open your Calendar, go to the date you want, double-click a time, then fill out the appointment as usual. (There won't be a To box, because the appointment's just for you, remember?) The appointment will automatically be placed in your Calendar, so if you need to delete it, don't go looking anywhere else but there.

Get More Information
about an Appointment
When you schedule yourself for a meeting and then do a busy search, there will always be an "i" in a little circle next to your name. The "i" means you can click a cross-hatched area to see more information about that scheduled time--like where that meeting will be (Place), what it will be about (Subject), and who scheduled it (From). Since it's your mailbox, you can see your own information in its entirety. Go ahead and click a cross-hatched area next to someone else's name; you can see who the appointment is to but that's all. Clever. Now, if you want other people to also be able to see detailed information about your appointments, you'll need to give them Read rights in your Access List first. Here's how to do it:

1.  Click Tools, Options.
2.  Double-click Security, then click the Proxy Access tab.
3.  Type the name of a user in the Name text box, then click Add User. Do this for every person you want to have Read rights.
4.  In the Access List box, click a name or shift-click a name to select all the names in the list. Use shift-click only if you want to assign everyone in the list the same rights.
5.  In the Access Rights group box, click the Read check box next to Appointments.
If you want people to also be able to read items you've marked private, click the Read Items Marked Private check box at the very bottom. (But honestly, what's the point?)
6.  Click OK.

There. You're done. So what did you achieve? A circle "i" will now be boldly displayed in front of your name when those people do a busy search on you. This means that everyone you've selected will now know your business as far as appointments go. Hope that's what you wanted, because otherwise you'll be very sad when your boss finds out you've scheduled weekly three-hour scalp-massages during your lunch break.

OK. So you've used Busy Search, sent your appointment, the whole nine yards. Now you want to find out who's coming and who's not. Are you back to square one--calling everyone to see if they'll be there? Would we do that to you? We don't think so. This is what you should do: make sure you're scheduled for the meeting too. Once you've sent the appointment and accepted it yourself, you can check to see if others have accepted it by opening your Calendar, double-clicking the appointment, then clicking File, Properties. From there you can see which people delivered, opened, accepted, declined, or deleted the appointment. It's like being a spy, but not really, because you can only see all this information if you were the one who scheduled the appointment.

Other Neat-o Scheduling/Busy Search Tricks
New scenario: you want to exclude a name from the busy search but you don't want to remove it from the To box. Why would I want to do that, you ask? Well, what if you've invited someone who isn't really vital to the meeting, but who could come if he or she wanted to--like a CC recipient--or the janitor. (There's other reasons, of course, but we'll just go with this one.) Here's what you do: from the Choose Appointment Time dialog box, click the Available Times tab, then click the check box next to the names that are not mission critical to the success of your meeting. Piece o' cake.* * *

All fine and good, but what happens if you want to see the schedules of several conference rooms at once so you can keep the available good room and delete the others, all without leaving Busy Search? There's an easy way: from the Choose Appointment Time dialog box, click Invite to Meeting, click a room you want to remove, then press Delete (on your keyboard). Repeat this if you need to remove several rooms. This trick is kind of like having your friend stand in the next grocery store checkout line just in case it's moving faster.* * *

Try this one on for size: what if you want to do a Busy Search before opening an appointment and then transfer the results over to an appointment view? Do we have an answer for you? You betcha. Here it is: click Tools, Busy Search. In the To box, type the names of the people and resources you want to search. (There's an Address Book button in the lower-right corner if you get stumped.) Type the Start Search Date and the Number of Days to Search, then click OK. Find a time when everyone can come, then click Request Meeting. (If you want to add more people to your list, click Invite to Meeting first.) It's that easy. * * *

OK. Last one. If for some wild reason you actually need to reschedule a meeting, it's a pretty easy process. What you do is open your Calender, right-click the appointment you want to reschedule, then click Resend. Change what you need to change, click Send, then click Yes to retract the original meeting. You're done.

Schedule Recurring Appointments
Say you want to schedule a weekly group pedicure for an entire year, but you don't want to induce carpel tunnel syndrome by having to type and send all 52 appointments individually: Tuesday the 14th, Send, Tuesday the 21st, Send, Tuesday the 27th . . . (you get the picture). Never fear. The solution to your problem just HAPPENS to be found in a nifty GroupWise feature called Auto-Date. Auto-Date can help you schedule recurring appointments as well as recurring notes and tasks. (Sorry, you can't schedule recurring mail or phone messages, but that would be evil anyway.)

Here's why Auto-Date is so cool. Suppose someone schedules you for a meeting every Friday. Now you have to accept 52 appointments. Who has the time? If that person had used Auto-Date, you could accept all instances of the appointment with one simple click.

You can choose from three different ways of creating Auto-Dates: By Example, By Formula, and By Dates. Secretly though, By Dates is the easiest, so we'll tell you about that way first. Here's how Auto-Date By Dates works:

Here's how to schedule a recurring appointment (the same steps work for tasks & notes, except that the icons are different):
1.  Click the Schedule New Appointment button on the toolbar in the Main Window.
2.  After filling in all the other stuff, click the little calendar icon next to the Start Date field, then click Auto-Date.
3.  Make sure that the Dates tab is selected, then click all the days you want to schedule, then click OK. Click Send when you're done.

Okay, so you want to do something a little more advanced with Auto-Date. We're with you. Suppose you want to schedule a power lunch for the second Tuesday of each month. Here's how:
1. Click the Schedule New Appointment button on the toolbar in the Main Window.
2.  After filling in all the other stuff, click the little calendar icon next to the Start Date field, then click Auto-Date.
3. Click the Example tab, type a Start and End date. You can leave these alone if you want the Auto-Date to start with today and end in one year.
4. Double-click a month to select them all, click Days of the Week on the pop-up button, then click 2nd next to Tuesday in the big box on the right. Here's how it should look:

Picture

5. Click OK, take one last look to ensure that everything looks good, then click Send.

So you noticed the Formula tab in the Auto-Date dialog and want to know what's up with it. If you are a techie type, you'll like this feature and probably don't need me to explain it to you. The easiest way to understand Auto-Date by formulas is to use either By Dates or By Example to set up an Auto-Date, but before you click OK, click the Formula tab. Now you can see the formula for the Auto-Date you just set up. Cool, huh?


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