The Calendar-Sharing Benefits of Electronic Scheduling Tools

By Dirk Zeller

One of the biggest benefits of using electronic scheduling tools is that you and your co-workers have access to each other’s schedules without making a phone call or pestering administrative assistants. This slashes the time you need to set up a meeting because the software also informs you where others are, what they’re doing, and when they’re available.

Electronic scheduling saves time on the recipient’s end, too — because others can see your schedule, you receive meeting invitations only at times you’re available, and you don’t have to consult your schedule to see whether you can attend.

Say, for example, you’ve been trying to reach Bob Smith for two days. Every time you call him, he’s in a meeting, and every time he calls you back, you’re out in the field. You cut through the time-wasting telephone tag, check into your network scheduling system, and schedule a time for both you and Bob to talk. You can see that he’s in the office but free of meetings between 2 and 3 p.m.

Using the meeting invitation system that’s built into most calendars (from Outlook to Google Calendar) can save time. You can ask for, confirm, or reschedule appointments with a few clicks of the mouse or tap of your finger. This enables both you and the multiple attendees of a meeting to drop the appointment into their schedules with little effort.

Scheduling systems, such as Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar, are great for setting up meetings for the convenience of the majority. For example, suppose you need to set a meeting next week for the ten people on your budget task force: Your attendance, as well as those of three department heads, is required. By using Outlook to schedule the meeting, you can see others’ schedules before you even send a meeting invitation. You can search through the week to find the best time for the most people, ensuring your numbers and the attendance of those critical to the meeting.

And when you’re not available? Don’t worry: No one knows that you’re actually getting a haircut at 3 p.m. Thursday — they just know you’re not available to meet.