Irregular recurring appointments and meetings

For a project, I have a whole list of meetings to discuss our progress for the upcoming months. We meet every week, but the day and time is very irregular as it is based on our availability and we skip a few weeks due to holidays. Aside from that, the topic and people involved remains the same.

How can I quickly set up these meetings without needing to fill out the information for each meeting separately?

Irregular recurrence patterns or creating a grouped set of appointments in one go is not something Outlook excels in. However, a semi-static recurrence pattern or the use of Categories will offer some relief in the need of filling out all information for each occurrence.

Exceptions and semi-static recurrence patterns

This approach is suited as long as there is some stable recurrence pattern with only a few exceptions. If your list basically only consists out of exceptions, then using the “Grouped set” approach would be recommended.

In this approach, you can simply set up a recurring appointment on the most common day/time combination. If you want to invite others and turn it into a real meeting, do not add them just yet.

Now that you have a close approximation of all your scheduled meetings, you can go into your Calendar and move around the generated meeting via drag & drop to the correct day/time combination for that week. You can even drag the top and bottom edges of the appointment to increase or decrease its duration.

You changed the date of this occurrence. If you want to change the date of all the occurrences, you must first open the appointment series. Do you want to change only this occurrence? (click on image to enlarge)  Date changes for an occurrence require confirmation. Time changes will not prompt you. (click on image to enlarge).

Turn your appointments into a meeting
Once you’ve made all the changes and want to turn this into an actual meeting, double click on an occurrence and select to open the entire series. Add your attendees and send out the meeting request. The attendees will now receive an invite for the series and one extra for each exception.

Exception: skip an occurrence
If you happen to skip a week, simply select the meeting and press Delete. You now get a prompt to select whether to delete the series or just the selected occurrence. Select to only delete the occurrence and move to the next. If this is an actual meeting, then a new message will open to send out a cancellation for that occurrence.

Exception: add an occurrence
If you want to add an extra occurrence for a week, drag the appointment for that week with the right mouse button to the correct day/time combination and release the mouse button. You’ll now get prompted if you want to move or copy the item. Select copy. If this is an actual meeting item, double click the item to open it and press Send to send out the meeting request since this occurrence is no longer linked to the actual recurring appointment.

Grouped set of appointments/meetings with Categories

If you were to have a really irregular schedule, with hardly any appointment/meeting on the same day/time combination or even a need to adjust the subject for each recurrence, using categories would be a better approach to create a series of related appointments/meetings.

  1. Create a new meeting/appointments and set up your first meeting with all the information.
  2. Assign it a unique Category to identify the grouped set of appointments.
  3. Save and close the item.
  4. Select the meeting in your Calendar.
  5. Copy the meeting (keyboard shortcut: CTRL+C).
  6. Select the day/time of the second occurrence.
  7. Paste the meeting.
  8. If this is an actual meeting item (you have added people as attendees to it), double click the item to open it and press Send to send out the meeting request.
  9. Repeat steps 5-8 for all the other occurrences.

Note: If you have a very unique subject and do not plan to modify this for any occurrence then you could skip the categorization step and sort your Calendar by subject to see all the occurrences for your recurring meetings.

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