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December 11, 2012

Flexing Your Outlook Muscles!

We know many of you use Outlook in your schools—particularly for e-mail and calendar features. Here are a few things we love about how Cole F., a teacher in Harlem, uses Outlook to manage his time.

We encourage you to steal some of his tricks!

  1. Time scheduled for Copy/Prep in the morning. And if you look even further, on Wednesday afternoons, Cole specifies exactly what he will do with his “work time.”
  2. All teaching time blocked out. This is helpful because it shows Cole when he can actually get other work done. He has a clear picture of which parts of his day are fixed and which are flexible.
  3. Out-of-the-ordinary appointments are noted. On Friday morning, Cole had to cover morning duty for another teacher. He noted it here so he didn’t forget.
  4. Out-of-the-ordinary events are noted. Check out Tuesday. . . Cole received a memo a few weeks back from his school reminding teachers to wear their own college sweatshirts that day. He didn’t want to forget, so he inserted the reminder as an “All-Day Appointment” and then got rid of the email. Go Cole!
  5. Blocked time for Calls and To-Do’s. Cole knows that as a busy teacher, he has a lot of phone calls to return, particularly to families. He blocked afternoon time to do this. Parents can count on him to call back!
cole calendar

Some of you might be wondering. . . does this take the place of the Comprehensive Calendar and Weekly Worksheet? The answer is YES! And it happens by switching views.

When using electronic calendars at this level of detail, Cole can easily:

  • Switch to the monthly view to show his Comprehensive Calendar. He can quickly scan for all deadlines, FYIs, and other important information for an extended period of time.
  • Switch to the weekly view to show his Weekly Worksheet. This prevents Cole from having to create something new each week. While many of our teachers really love the creation of the Weekly Worksheet (such as Katie and Drew), for our more electronic folk, this is a real time saver.
  • Switch to the daily view to get a detailed view of each day with appointment details. Cole actually prints out his daily view from Outlook each morning, and carries it around all day with his Together Teacher materials. Smart, and a strategy I often recommend to electronically-inclined teachers who cannot always take out their computers or smart phones.

I also got a sneak peek at Cole’s exercise schedule and how he spends his weekends. Using his calendar, he makes it all fit! It takes some planning, but it is well worth it for both his success and his sanity.

P.S. One of the most impressive things about Cole is that he does NOT carry a smart phone at all. As one who is prone to e-mail distraction, I’m inspired!

Together Teacher Sharing Question: How do you use Outlook to stay Together?

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