Back and forth, back and forth…endless emails to ascertain someone else’s availability to set up a meeting or a Zoom call. What a waste of time, right? There must be a better way to get more productive and to streamline setting up meetings. And there is! It’s called Calendly. I wanted to share my observations and learnings, having set it up recently, and give some thoughts on how you can use it to your benefit.
Refining what makes me productive is a constant journey and I’m always looking at little ways and hacks to improve myself, my use of time, to understand why I procrastinate sometimes and I how I can move myself forward by 1% each day. You can read some of my other productivity articles, Why Productivity Matters if You Want To Be An Amazing Networker and Online Tools for Increasing Productivity.
So to start with, let’s take a look at a ‘traditional’ meeting booking process:
- Emails going back and forth to get availability for both parties. It’s even worse if there are even more people involved in an email chain. And it’s even more complicated again when the time zones differ!
- Now you’ve got a date and time, so you go into Zoom or your online meeting platform and create a virtual meeting link.
- You now copy the link to your clipboard.
- You open a new email and send the note to the person with the Zoom (or other) details.
- You then go into your own calendar and input the meeting details.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, the other person can’t find the Zoom details, so they email you again or whatsapp/message you to get the details. Or they forget to put the meeting details in their diary and miss the appointment altogether…you get my drift – the list goes on. The emails are endless.
Not any more! Here are my thoughts and my lowdown on Calendly and why I’m such a big fan!
I wish someone had introduced me to Calendly much, much earlier. Oh my, it’s a game changer! I’d written a couple of blogs around getting more productive (linked above), and I had written about using a scheduling system, as I knew it was something that would save time. But I hadn’t got around (yes, I know – the irony!) of setting it up for myself.
Benefits of Using A Scheduling System Like Calendly
If you haven’t heard of the phrase, context switching, let me explain. It refers to us hopping from one activity to another. It causes fatigue and means we are not laser focussed or giving the best of ourselves to any individual task. The experts advise batching our work and this is another reason why using Calendly (or any other scheduling system) is a game changer. You can pick and choose the hours, the days and time of day it suits you to undertake any type of activity.
For example: If you wanted to only allot 4 hours to mentoring during your week, you can pick the days and times that suit you best to undertake this activity. Your availability is pre-set and when you send your Calendly link, the recipient automatically knows when you are available. They can look at their diary, choose a good time, book in with their email and they get a notification to say that meeting is booked.
Calendly – Free Version
The free version of Calendly allows you to schedule one meeting type. This is fine for people who don’t have different sub categories of business or verticals for which they are planning meetings. Let me explain this in a little more detail.
Calendly – Paid Version
I have the paid version of Calendly and quite honestly it’s worth it every day of the week. I now allot time for multiple types of work that I’m involved in. My process for booking meetings has moved from all the steps outlined at the beginning of the article, to sending just ONE link by email. That’s it!
The recipient books in at a time that suits them. As soon as they answer my couple of filter questions (also known as qualifying questions), insert their email, the Zoom link is automatically generated and populated into my diary and the other person’s diary. And all I had to do is send one email. It SAVES so much time and hassle.
How I Use Calendly
I have my diary currently subdivided down for:
- Network Interviews
- Podcast Interviews
- Scoping calls
- Mentoring for Success with Network Ireland
- Walks and Talks
By doing this, I can track where I’m spending my time and I can manage it most efficiently. For example, I had a lot of 1-2-1 requests and I had to edit the time I made available for this task. Likewise, my childcare arrangements with my partner meant that I needed to free up Thursday and Friday afternoons to collect the kids from school, so now I don’t have any availability scheduled for those afternoons.
You can set your availability ad infinitum or you can set it per quarter, depending on your business and business cycle.
Connecting Calendly to Your Other Systems
If you are organising an online meeting, this can automatically be set up on Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google Meet or Teams, as suits your organisational requirements. Mine is linked to Zoom, as an example.
You can connect certain meetings to a payment system, so for example if you are charging for a consultation call, a mentoring call, a coaching call, the payments can be processed directly at the time of booking. Systems supported include: Stripe and Paypal.
You can connect Calendly into Microsoft 365, so I have all appointments directly synced into my Outlook calendar. The same applies for Google Mail and other systems.
A Few Pro Tips
I made a few mistakes, unwittingly, when I started using Calendly, so here are some thoughts on how to avoid getting booked in on days that you want to take off.
Tip #1: Block out all bank holidays and days you want to take off, e.g. your anniversary, children’s birthdays etc in full in your Outlook or Google diaries. This will make the days automatically ‘unavailable’ in Calendly, so people can’t book in an appointment then. You can simply Google ‘Bank Holidays + year + country’ to get a full list as appropriate to your region.
I didn’t do this at the start, so people scheduled meetings with me on Bank Holidays. It meant I had to email ahead and start cancelling and rescheduling appointments, so I learned my lesson.
Another thing to note, is that if you manually add in an appointment or meeting to your diary, Calendly will automatically know that you are unavailable.
Tip #2: Be mindful of when you work best and are most productive. Keep this time for you. So work out if you are an early bird, night owl (or like many of us – the exhausted pigeon!). Many people are ‘morning people’, so save your best time for producing your own work and getting writing, projects, tenders done – whatever it is that requires more focus and dedicated time. Schedule meetings at the time of the day that falls outside your prime focus time, e.g. the afternoon.
Tip #3 Promote your diary and Calendly link(s) on your autosignature, your social media, your website and/or blog so people know you are available for meetings.
Connecting With NetworkingJean
Have you got other tips to share? You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know or post in the comments.
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