Inspirometer does an excellent job of gathering data directly from your calendar using its Outlook Add-in tool. However, some calendar practices can lead to erroneous statistics, and so you may find that some simple but subtle changes to how you record things in your calendar can make all the difference to the accuracy and usefulness of your meeting statistics. To appreciate this, it may be helpful to understand how Inspirometer gathers and processes your calendar data:
- Inspirometer looks for any calendar entry where you have invited someone else or have been invited by someone else, and assumes that this is a meeting between you and them
- However, it ignores any invitation to you which has not been accepted, or has been accepted as tentative only – it assumes that you only attend those you have fully accepted by the time they occur in your calendar
- It also ignores any meeting subject which begins ‘Holiday:’ – this is to enable people to continue the common practice of sending their holiday requests to their boss’s calendar as a meeting request.
Errors occur when people do one of the following:
- Create or accept any calendar request which is not a meeting and does not begin the subject line with the text: ‘Holiday:’ (without quotes)
- Fail to accept a meeting which they actually attended
- Fail to attend a meeting which they actually accepted (e.g. when they have two meetings at the same time)
To overcome these issues, Inspirometer has the facility to allow people to filter out conflicting duplicates and meetings of over 10 hours long, but this is a blunt instrument for two reasons – you may actually have meetings over 10 hours long that are not holiday, and you may actually have attended the conflict meeting that Inspirometer has ignored. It is therefore far better to follow some basic calendar practices so that these filters can be avoided.
We propose you follow these quick and simple practices to ensure your data is as accurate as possible:
- Always accept meetings that you attend
- Always cancel meetings from your calendar that you are not attending
- Always remove meetings that have been cancelled by their organisers from your calendar
- Always ensure holiday requests by you or to you begin their subject line with ‘Holiday:’
- Review your calendar at the end of each day to ensure that the calendar entries are accurate
- If you discover a calendar entry for a previous day that is wrong, fix it retrospectively, but then click the refresh statistics button on your add-in
These simple practices will help to ensure that you are better able to rely on your meeting statistics and use them to drive improvements.
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