(v. 2.5 & up)
SkedPal needs to be aware of your busy times according to your Exchange/Outlook Calendar so it won’t schedule tasks when you’re in a meeting. Currently, SkedPal integrates with Microsoft Exchange 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, and Office 365.
But, before connecting your Exchange/Outlook Calendar to SkedPal, let’s review what you have on your Exchange/Outlook Calendar:
- Fixed Appointments – If you’re using your Exchange/Outlook Calendar to book meetings with others, SkedPal will read your busy times to avoid scheduling tasks over them. See Fixed vs Flexible Tasks in SkedPal for a more in-depth discussion.
- Reminders – If you use full day events on your Exchange/Outlook Calendar as reminders (e.g. Birthdays), make sure they are set as ‘Free’. You can see this option in Outlook Calendar’s edit event under ‘Show As’ dropdown menu.
- Shared Calendars –When you start the process to connect to your Exchange server, you will see the list of all calendars in Exchange that you have access to. Some of these calendars might be group calendars and might not be related to your busy times. If you do decide to connect these group calendars, their busy times will also be your busy times, and SkedPal will avoid scheduling tasks over those busy times. So, during Exchange/Outlook Calendar connection process, make sure you select the right calendars.
- Holidays – Outlook allows you to add standard holiday calendars such as United States Holidays. You can use this calendar to avoid scheduling tasks on holidays. You will be able to select which Time Maps will be affected by holidays. See below for more details..
- Appointment Status Types – Please note that SkedPal will ignore any ‘Free’ , or ‘Tentative’ status appointments on your Outlook calendar, and reads all other statuses (Busy, ‘Working Elsewhere’ & Out of Office ) as busy times.
- Time Blocks – You need to think about using time blocks on your Exchange/Outlook Calendar when starting to use SkedPal. If the activity for which you’re blocking time is at fixed times, then keep them as time blocks in Exchange/Outlook Calendar. You won’t need to add these as tasks to SkedPal. For example, if you’re going to a weekly community activity every Saturday from 10 AM to 12 PM, keep this as a recurring weekly time block on your Exchange/Outlook Calendar. However, if your activity does not occur at a fixed time, you’re better off removing your time block from Exchange/Outlook Calendar, and add this task to SkedPal for more flexible scheduling. Remember, that you can’t have the same activity as both a fixed time block on your Exchange/Outlook Calendar, and a task in SkedPal.
How SkedPal calendar blends in: Once you connect your Exchange/Outlook Calendar to SkedPal, you’ll see a new calendar named ‘SkedPal’ on the list of calendars in Outlook. Your tasks from SkedPal will be scheduled in this calendar. Your own calendars in Outlook/Exchange will never be altered by SkedPal. SkedPal only reads them to understand your busy times. SkedPal schedules your tasks around your busy times in Exchange/Outlook Calendar.
A copy of your Exchange/Outlook Calendar’s busy times will also be displayed on your SkedPal calendar. So, when you add a new appointment to your Exchange/Outlook Calendar, or alter an existing appointment, SkedPal calendar will be updated (see Sync’ing process below). Once you make changes to your Exchange/Outlook Calendar, you want to re-schedule your tasks in SkedPal to align with your new appointment times.
Your Company Information Security– If your company policies do not allow connection of other applications to your Exchange server for protecting appointments data, you can opt to read only your busy hours without any other details. Once you opt-in for this privacy option, you’ll only see ‘BUSY’ as the title for all the appointments from your Exchange/Outlook calendar on your SkedPal calendar. This will suffice to ensure SkedPal will not schedule. You will see this option in the settings as shown below.
How to Connect to your Exchange Calendar:
- Open the menu in the top right of the screen (profile image), and select Setting
- Your default browser should now open and load SkedPal settings page.
- If you’re not logged in already, use your SkedPal credentials to log into the website.
- From the left menu, select Calendars, and then Accounts. Click on + ADD ACCOUNT. If you already have existing calendar accounts connected such as other Office 365 accounts, or Google Calendar accounts, you will see them connected here.
- Click Next to go to the next step, and Next again. Now, you should see a pop-up screen asking you to log into your Microsoft account. Enter your Microsoft account (Office 365) credentials to authorize SkedPal to access your calendar.
- Go to calendar-select, and select the right calendars you want to sync. Make sure you include your holiday calendars too.
- Go to calendar-setting, and set the right options. See below for more details.
Note: If your Exchange server is not cloud-based (not Office 365), choose Other Exchange Server. You will need to be able to supply the server domain name. Please check with your Network Admin to get the correct domain name. Your username is usually in the format of an email address. Please ensure you get the correct email address from your Network Admin.
Syncing Exchange/Outlook Calendar with SkedPal – The sync between SkedPal and Office 365 will happen in the background and you don’t need to manually intervene.
Sidelining Exchange/Outlook Appointments in SkedPal:
You might have some appointments added to your Outlook calendar that do not really stand for busy times. In other words, you are still available to schedule your tasks during the Outlook appointment times. Examples include all-day reminders (e.g. birthday reminders), or a multi-day event in Outlook calendar denoting a certain context or travel time. In order to instruct SkedPal to use the event/appointment times as available time, you have two options:
- Make the appointment as Free in Outlook (not Busy)
- Sideline the appointment in SkedPal. You can do this by clicking on the event and you’ll see the sideline switch that can be turned on or off.
Please note that all-day appointments from Outlook are set as side-lined by default. This is true even if you set the appointment as Free.
Holidays have a varied impact on different tasks. For example, you probably want to complete personal tasks on a holiday, while not scheduling any work-related task. To do this, make sure you select your holiday calendar in step 5 above. If you do not have a holiday calendar by default, you can create your own Google calendar in your account and add your holidays to it. This will sync all holidays with SkedPal. Then, for each Time Map, you can indicate if you’d like to block your time or ignore it.
Your Tasks on Outlook Calendar
SkedPal syncs with Exchange calendar in both directions, that is it reads your appointments from Exchange calendar and writes your tasks to it. The SkedPal calendar in your Exchange calendar account displays your scheduled tasks. You can decide NOT to sync your tasks to Exchange calendar. You will find this option at the top of the calendar setting page. In addition, you may choose to sync your tasks as BUSY or as AVAILABLE (or FREE) time on your Exchange calendar.
Buffer Time Before And After Appointments
You’ve probably noticed that if you have a fixed appointment on your Exchange calendar from 10:00 to 11:00 AM, SkedPal assumes that you are available the minute after (or before) this event. But, what if you need to commute to the next activity? Or just need some time to switch contexts before you can get started with your next task? You can set a fixed buffer time before and/or after all fixed appointments. This can be set at the calendar level. In other words, if you have more than one calendar, you can set these buffers differently for each calendar.You will find the right options in step 5 above (How to connect to your Exchange calendar).