By its title, this post probably should be more profound than it is.
Sorry, but this isn’t a post about searching for time or making time for things, although that does come into a bit. Instead it’s a post about arranging time. In particular, scheduling. And how we can use tools to make our lives easier.
How to simplify appointment making using an online scheduling tool
Booking in appointments with clients for conference calls and meetings can be a bit tricky. Do you suggest a time first or they? What if they come back with a time that’s really late or really early? How do you manage their expectations whilst appearing accommodating at the same time?
There’s the back and forth email exchange to find a mutually convenient time across different time zones. Then managing changes and rescheduling as priorities change, it can be a bit of a headache.
But with so many of these everyday work things, we just get on with it. We manage. So what if it takes five emails to set up an appointment. That’s ok, isn’t it? That doesn’t really take up too much time.
That’s fine, to a point.
Until something happens and you reach a tipping point.
For me, it was a recent deluge of appointments to book in across different time zones coupled with an impending change of clocks at the end of October. Scheduling calls is one thing, different time zones are also workable. But the possibility of our availability being an hour out by the time we’ve confirmed was enough to send me scurrying to set up a better system. Finally.
Setting up an online calendar booking system
I opted for Calendly. “Say goodbye to phone and email tag for finding the perfect meeting time with Calendly.”
It’s a tool that I’ve been on the receiving end of a booking before, so knew that it was easy to use from a client perspective.
The basic version is free and the sign up is simple. You just need an email address to create an account and you’re good to go.
- Sign up using an email address.
- Personalise your Calendly URL.
- Link the account to your calendar.
- Create your event.
- Set availability for the event.
- Copy your event link to share.
It prevents any embarrassing double bookings as Calendly integrates with your usual calendar such as Google Calendar, iCloud or Office 365. Even better than that, you can have greater control over your schedule by managing availability for that particular event type. Which means you can group similar events to suit. You can also set a buffer between bookings, set a maximum number per day and set the lead time before events.
On the free version, unfortunately, you can only set one event type, e.g. 15-minute call. This is fine if, like me, you only need one type of event, but I think this could be easily worked around anyway, by having a general event and then managing any details in a separate email. I know that means we’re back on email, but I personally feel that a personal touch is important and wouldn’t want to automate every step of the process.
Two week review
I’m now two weeks in and have successfully scheduled seven conference calls so far. One of them rescheduled, and my client was able to do that from her end of things. I just received an email to alert me of the update and my calendar was already amended. Simple.
I’ve no doubt that after that initial time investment, I’ve saved time overall. I feel better in control of the bookings and I’m not put in a position where I have to agree to a meeting at a time that really doesn’t work for me. It’s eliminated the email back and forth as I now just send an email inviting them to book using my Calendly link. It’s still giving them the choice to suit their schedule.
Why do we resist simple changes?
Through this whole process and moving over to my new system, I’ve been wondering what’s taken me so long? Why I’ve put it off. I’ve been scheduling video calls with clients for the last few years for the work I do with Toggl and, prior to that, I was setting up calls on behalf of clients. I really have no excuse.
I’m all for making things easier, simpler and more joined up, but sometimes it’s a question of time. We’re balancing the time we’re spending doing that thing against the initial time investment we’d need to make, and calculating the cost of doing it or not. That’s before we’ve done any research or even set up a new tool, or we can’t find that one tool that does everything that we need. Even when we do, it’s not likely that we’ll find out everything that it does straight away, opting instead for the bare minimum to get us up and running on it. There are so many choices now and there’s this thing that integrates with that thing. If you’re not techy, it can all seem a bit complicated.