Microsoft is Bringing New Time Management Features to Outlook

Posted on July 14, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft 365, Office 365, Outlook.com with 8 Comments

Personal and work calendars side-by-side

Microsoft has announced a big set of new and updated experiences across various Outlook versions related to time management.

“You need ways to manage your time in a way that evolves as the world is changing,” Microsoft’s Gideon Bibliowicz explains. “We recognize that and are working to do so across Microsoft 365 whether in Outlook, Teams, To Do, MyAnalytics and other apps. We hope this first set of new and updated experiences will help you get back more control of your day, spend less time preparing for meetings, protect your personal time, and organize your calendar to stay balanced.”

Here’s what’s coming soon to Outlook. Unfortunately, Microsoft hasn’t made it clear in all cases when these features will arrive.

Meeting Insights. To help prepare you for the next meeting, Meeting Insights displays the email messages and files that may be relevant to the meeting in the event details in your calendar in Outlook Mobile.

Meeting invites improvements. In Outlook on the web (Microsoft 365 commercial), you can see messages, meeting details, attendee’s responses, and add an online meeting right from your email inbox.

Join online meetings with one tap. Microsoft has added a one-tap join meeting experience in Outlook Mobile that works with third-party services like Webex and Zoom.

Make online meetings the default. With so many people working remotely now, Outlook Mobile and Outlook on the web now have an option that will make an online meeting the default for new meetings.

Add your personal calendar to your work account. When you add a personal calendar to Outlook on the web, the times for its events will be shown as busy (with no details or information) when someone else in your organization wants to schedule a meeting with you using the Scheduling Assistant. You can also view your personal calendar side-by-side with your work calendar in a single view.

Meeting availability and schedule suggestions. The Suggested Replies feature in Outlook Mobile will soon be upgraded to support suggestions to Send Availability and Schedule Meeting when someone wants to meet with you.

Scheduled email delivery. Outlook on the web users can schedule emails to be sent later, such as at 9 am on Monday or when the recipients return from vacation.

Snooze an email. In Outlook on the web and Outlook Mobile, you will be able to “Snooze” an email so that you can deal with it later.

Create a task from an email message. You can create a task from Outlook for iOS and then manage it in Outlook or To Do. These new tasks will use the same email subject and include the original email and a link to the conversation in Outlook for quick reference from To Do, Microsoft says.

Cortana-based daily briefing email. The Briefing email from Cortana is a personalized email message that arrives near the start of your workday and Cortana finds actionable recommendations of documents for you to review ahead of meetings and pending requests from prior emails that you may want to follow up on. Microsoft says that this email will also make it easy for you to reserve “focus time” during your workday for uninterrupted focused work with Microsoft Teams notifications silenced. It’s like they read about how I schedule my day and then turned it into a feature.

Schedule shorter meetings. Now you can set all your meetings to end early in Outlook on the web or Outlook for Windows to get back 5 to 15 minutes of extra time “to stretch or get a coffee.” Long meetings are disrespectful, especially during the lockdown, and this is long overdue.

Play My Emails. Cortana can now read your new email messages out loud in Outlook for Android so you can listen hands-free and stay connected. You can also add emails to your task list and schedule and RSVP to meetings using your voice with Play My Emails in Outlook for iOS.

Meeting hours. With the traditional 9 to 5 workday thrown out the window for many people, Outlook for Windows supports a new Meeting Hours feature, similar to Work Hours, that lets you inform your coworkers when you’re available for online meetings.

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