Google Calendar has a new out-of-office feature that can automatically decline meeting invitations - here's how to set it up
Google just added a new "Out of office" feature to its Calendar app to make meeting management a little easier.
Similar to Google's Vacation Responder feature in Gmail, which can send automated replies while you're away from your computer, the new Out of office feature lets you preemptively deny meeting requests for certain periods of time on your Google Calendar. Google announced the feature in a blog post on Thursday, saying it will "further improve your digital well-being."
The way that Out of office messages are set up right now, incoming emails and invites automatically receive an "I can't respond right now," but only once you're out of the office. With this feature - which can be applied to day-to-day hours or for vacation days - the creator of the meeting will know you'll be unavailable on that day and time as soon as he or she makes the meeting.
That leaves you to get on with your work and your personal life, by avoiding the repeated conversation about your hours and travel time.
Here's how to set up the Out of office feature in Google Calendar:
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For one-off times — say, when you're going out of town or need to go heads down on an assignment — click on a day like you would for an event or a reminder, and select the Out of office mode. Then fill in the rest of the necessary information.
The days will appear differently in your 'Week' view, and any meetings previously created will be declined.
Google Calendar will also decline incoming meetings requests for those days with an email that includes your tailor-made message. Here's what it looks like on their end:
If you're going for a routine, Google also gives you the option to set specific working hours for each day of the week. You can de-select certain days and set hours separately, or assign hours for one day or all of them. These hours don't show up in your calendar view the way vacation days do.
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