We complain about spending countless hours in unproductive and mismanaged meetings.
But the greater crime is the time we all spend scheduling any type meeting. The endless back and forth communication and steps -- reviewing calendars, finding out the best place to meet, seting up a call-in number, adding the meeting to the calendar, and inviting all the necessary attendees -- can ruin your productivity.
I've been trying out a few meeting scheduler apps and have amassed a list of useful plug-ins, apps, and programs for you to try out to reduce the time and energy spent planning for either productive or fruitless meetings.
Finding a time for a group of people to meet can be a nightmare. Rally lets you create a poll where attendees can vote on a day for an event that works best with their schedule.
Assistant.to lets you work directly from Gmail and Google Calendar to select available meeting times and share those open slots with the person you are trying to schedule a meeting with. From within the compose screen in Gmail, you can select the meeting duration and where the meeting will take place. This information is included in an email where the recipient can click on the time that works best for them. Finally, the app adds the meeting with all the relevant details to your calendar. Currently, group scheduling is not an option.
Image via Assistant.to
This tool works well if you receive a lot of meeting requests from people outside of your organization. You simply send over your unique Calendly URL, and people choose a time and date based on your availability, which is synced with your Google Calendar or Office 365. You can add questions to the form people use to sign up to meet with you, include a link to a document or webpage people should review prior to your meeting, and even make events private.
Need to Meet
Need to Meet allows you to select a few different meeting times and create a poll page where people can indicate which option works best for them. Viewers can see what selection other members made, which could help with people changing around their own schedules -- if they have the flexibility -- so more people can attend. It differs from Rally in that you can indicate the date and time, rather than what day works best.
This meeting app allows you to compare your availability with another person's, regardless of email domain, and it makes it easy to schedule via your mobile device. Pick finds a time and date that works best for all the attendees, and it schedules the meeting and notifies attendees by email for you. It also provides you with a individual URL so you can share your availability with people requesting a meeting.
Clara is a software-backed scheduler with human support that takes care of communication over email to schedule meetings. Once you sign up, you indicate your preferences as to which days and times you are available for meetings and your favorite locations for coffee, lunch, or drinks. If someone requests a meeting, you simply CC Clara's email address, and the virtual assistant will determine a time, date, duration, participants, and location for the meeting.
It currently only works with Gmail, and it does have a hefty price tag, but it could be worth the cost if scheduling takes up a large portion of your time.
With Doodle, you can pick date and time options, and poll a group to see what works best for them. You can also create a public Doodle URL, where individuals can request a meeting with you based on when you are available.