Repeating or recurring Outlook Appointments

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Outlook can record appointments in the Calendar but it can also record ‘recurring’ appointments for things that happen on a regular schedule. We’ll show you how to make a repeating appointment and suggest some ways it can be used that might not be immediately obvious.

Repeating Appointments 101

To make a recurring appointment:

  1. Create a new appointment – there’s various ways to do this. One is to switch to Calendar view then click on the New Appointment button on the toolbar.
    Outlook New Appointment - Repeating or recurring Outlook Appointments
  2. Fill in a Subject label for the reminder and, if you wish, Location.
  3. Then look up on the toolbar and click on the large Recurrence button (it was called Recurring in earlier versions of Outlook) – you’ll see a new dialog box appear to set the repeating options.
    Repeating Outlook Appointments - Repeating or recurring Outlook Appointments
  4. Appointment Time: choose a Start and End time for the appointment or choose a Start time and Duration (the end time will change accordingly).
    Repeating Outlook Appointments 1 - Repeating or recurring Outlook Appointments
  5. Recurrence Pattern: Daily, Weekly, Monthly or Yearly, the options on the right change to suit the pattern selected. For example choosing Weekly lets you choose the day/s of the week and how many week between each appointments. Choose 1 week for weekly, 2 weeks for fortnightly/every second week etc.
  6. Range of Recurrence: you can choose from a never ending recurrence, ending after n appointments or ending on a certain date.
  7. When you’ve finished click OK, on the calendar dialog you’ll see a summary of the settings you’ve chosen.
  8. Click OK to save the entire appointment.
  9. On the calendar view the appointment will show up with a little twin circular arrow to indicate part of a series.

You can change the appointment by double-clicking on it, you get the choice of changing just that appointment or the whole series. Which brings us to changing one appointment in the series.

Exceptions

Having setup a recurring appointment, Murphy’s Law says there’s been one-off changes. For example a regular appointment is cancelled or moved to another time. Thankfully Outlook can handle that, you can edit one or more appointments from a series.

Double-click on the appointment you want to change, choose the ‘Open this occurrence’ option to only change that event (not the entire series). You can then change the time, date or even delete that appointment entirely.

Time Zones

Recurring appointments can be set for any time zone.

For example an online meeting that’s hosted from another time zone.  Or reminder of a favorite radio or TV program from another country (e.g. reminder of BBC Radio 4 news programs).

Medication Reminders

Outlook can be very useful to prompt you to take your medicine. That’s especially true these days when Outlook can be synchronized to phones and PDA’s so your medication prompts can follow you around.

A simple, ‘one tablet a day’ regime is easy. Just create a daily recurring appointment, every 1 days with no end date or ending on a particular date as the case may be. The Start time is when you need to take the medicine, change the duration to ‘0 minutes’ so the End time is the same as the Start. Make sure the reminder is set on and the reminder time is also ‘0 minutes’ (unless you want to be reminded before the due time).

Twice a day or more can’t be done with a single appointment (there’s no provision for recurring events more frequently than daily). Instead you have to create a daily recurring appointment for each time of day you have to medicate.

For example, if you have to be reminded at 9am and 9pm create two daily recurring appointments – one for each time.

If you’re on a complex regime with different medicine at different times you might want to create an Outlook Category called, say, Medical, and link all the appointments to that category. Then you can filter the view to see only those appointments and mange them more easily. Categories is a powerful yet underused part of Outlook that we’ll talk about another time.

Privacy

If you have a shared calendar you probably don’t want you medical habits to appear to others. Even if you calendar isn’t shared you might not want to see those reminders cluttering up your daily view.

Any appointment can be flagged as ‘Private’ – there’s a check box in the bottom right corner of the appointment dialog box.

Then you can filter the Outlook view to not show Private appointments in the normal display. Editing your Outlook views is a topic for another time but in short you Customize the current view, Filter, the Advanced filter is set to ‘Sensitivity’ not equal to ‘Private’.

Birthdays and Anniversaries

You can use recurring appointments on an annual basis to remind you of anniversaries etc.

Birthdays and Anniversaries can be stored in one of two ways. Each Contact has a special field to record Birthday and Anniversary for a person – when you set those dates Outlook will automatically create All Day recurring annual events in the Calendar.

Naturally you can create annual reminders for people not in the Contacts list or for other anniversaries. You may wish to be reminded of the anniversary of the passing of a friend or relative. The more romantically inclined may want to record the date they first met that special someone or celebrate the day a past divorce was finalized.

Sadly the automatically created events have the same default reminder time as any other appointment. So the default is that you get 15 minutes warning of a birthday, hardly enough time to get a gift or send a (non-virtual) birthday card. If you want to extend the reminder time, open the automatically created appointment, choose to edit the entire series then change the reminder time and save.

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