August 21, 2009, 6:43 AM — How many emails does it take to book you for an appointment? I am sure this has happened to you, where a simple request for a meeting turns into a hailstorm of email traffic back and forth as you and your meeting-mates try to find some common time that you are all free to take a meeting. There has got to be a better way, and luckily there are a lot of different software tools that are available, depending on the situation. Here are a few of my favorites and most of them are free, too.
- Situation #1: You want to try to arrange a common meeting time for people that are coming from different companies. The free service Setmeeting.com is appropriate for this task and there are others such as Tungle.com and TimeBridge.com too. You set up a Web page and people can indicate their free and busy times, and then it sends a confirming email to all parties.
- Situation #2: You want to remind your work team of a recurring meeting with reminder emails automatically sent. Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, and others work nicely for this purpose.
- Situation #3: You want to maintain a common calendar between you and your spouse or work partners. Or synchronize your calendar between PDA, Web and desktop. There are a lot of products for this, but some that you might not have heard of include Calgoo.com, BusyMac's BusyCal for Macs, and NuevaSync.com.
- Situation #4: You want to allow your clients to book your time via a self-service Web portal to avoid having a secretary or receptionist. There are a bunch of products here too: Timedriver.com , ServeMeHere and Hourtown.com are three such services, that charge various fees and plans.
- Situation #5: Your business makes use of a large number of shift workers whose schedules change each week, or you want to coordinate a large collection of volunteers or outside workers. Shiftboard.com is one such fee-based service.