Ever notice how much time you can spend emailing back and forth when trying to setup a meeting? Swapping available times and confirming meeting logistics take you away from doing things that actually add value.
With Google Appointment slots you can share one link and be done. If you have a paid Google Apps account you can set it up in minutes. And if you’re not on a paid account this feature might be worth the $50/year.
Creating Appointment Slots
Now to create your first appointment slots. First, open up your Google calendar and drag to create a new time slot. The default type will be Event. Click “Appointment slots” on the top left corner by clicking the blue link that will change the edit options.
From this view you now have the option to pick how long you want the appointment slots to be. I typically setup one chunk of time for phone meetings for 30 minutes each.
To have further editing options, click ‘Edit details’ from this view [screenshot below]. Now you have the ability to create the appointment slots on a weekly basis (blue arrow). I try to take most meetings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday so I have them repeat weekly. And you can set default location or phone number for the meeting (red arrow).
Once you have your appointment slots setup, you can copy and paste the calendar link to share when setting up your next meeting (purple arrow). This link will show all of your available appointment slots. I set up separate blocks for phone calls, breakfast meetings, lunch meetings and in-office meetings. This link will show you all of those even though they were edited separately.
When you click on the calendar link you see the appointment slots compared against your calendar since you are likely logged into your own account. Your meeting partner would see their own calendar with your appointment slots overlaid so they could choose a time without an existing conflict. Once they click an appointment slot to edit any additional details and you receive an email confirmation.
You’ve now just turned three back-and-forth emails into one reply and one confirmation email.
Putting appointment slots into your work flow
The calendar link is pretty ugly and a few clicks away to access on a regular basis so I use Google’s canned responses option to shortcut the link into my email flow.
In addition to adding my Google calendar appointment slot link as a pretty URL, I also added some language around it that I found myself always including. As developers know, take the DRY approach (don’t repeat yourself).
Now you’re good to go!
Beyond just saving my inbox, I’ve found that creating appointment slots helps me stay disciplined about blocking off solid chunks of time to do work. Instead of jumping in and out of tasks, I have set time periods of work and set time to speak with others. Productivity hacking at it’s best.
What about Tungle.me?
Tungle.me has a similar use case but I found it to require too much work for the other person to book an appointment. I wanted something that was saving us both time, not offloading my work elsewhere.
What if the other person doesn’t have Google calendar?
How sad! You’ll have to default back to the old way of doing things.
What if the person is in another time zone?
Sometimes Google calendar can be a little wonky on time zones if your or your meeting guest don’t have it setup properly. You will get a confirmation email when the appointment is setup so it’s worth doing a double check that the hours make sense. Ex: 3AM call anyone?
What tools do you use to get back to adding value?
Let me know on Twitter @br_ttany.