Where would we be without meetings? Probably getting more work done but once the number of people you work with reaches a certain number, meetings become necessary. Scheduling a meeting isn’t easy; you have to check and make sure everyone is available, make sure they know when the meeting is, and send out an agenda. If you work with geographically dispersed, remote teams, it’s even harder to manage with different time zones. Outlook isn’t much help with time zones but it does let you send out meeting invites, and see who’s accepted or declined a meeting. Outlook users have the option to automatically accept or reject meeting invites based on their availability.
Outlook can warn you when you have a meeting clash so it stands to reason it knows which of your time slots are free. If you want Outlook to automatically accept and reject meeting invites, you’re going to have to enable the option.
Accept And Reject Meeting Invites
Open Outlook and go to File>Options. On the Options window, select the Calendar tab from the column on the right. Scroll down to the ‘Automatic accept or decline’ section, and click Auto Accept/Decline.
A small window will open with three options; the first will accept meeting requests, the second will decline the ones that conflict with existing invites, and the third will automatically decline meeting requests for recurring meetings.
You an enable all these options but make sure you maintain your schedule religiously in Calendar. If you have unplanned time set aside for working on something, Calendar will treat it as ‘available’ time and accept meeting requests for it.
If you don’t feel like filling out every aspect of your work day in the calendar, you should only enable the option to decline meeting requests that clash with other commitments, and to decline recurring meeting requests. You will want to have more control over which invites you accept.
Outlook doesn’t let you set acceptable times or available hours that other people in your organization can see when they invite you to a meeting. If it did, you could use those to automate accepting invites. If you still want to automate accepting meeting invites but can’t be bothered filling in your schedule, add unnamed events in Calendar for the hours that you plan to spend on work. Outlook isn’t going to verify if you’re adding a real event or task so just add anything and make it long enough to cover the time you can’t attend a meeting. This is shoe-horning it a bit but it is the simplest solution there is.