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In this series on productivity, author Jess Stratton takes you through the latest tools that will help you run your business and life more efficiently. Each installment covers a particular feature or technique in a different online tool, such as Google Apps, Skype, YouTube, Mint.com, Etsy, and more. Check back every Monday for tips on topics from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
My name is Jess Stratton and this is Monday Productivity Pointers. Your office most likely already has a calendar scheduling app system in place. If you want to schedule a meeting, you add your list of invitees and see when they're all available to schedule. Easy. What's not so easy is when the same process needs to happen for a group of people that aren't on a unified calendar scheduling app. We've all taken part in this. The emails start flying around with everyone listing dates they're available and dates they're not. It's impossible to wade through everyone's schedules to easily see the big picture of the best date when everyone's available.
So today, I'm going to show you a website called Doodle, in which group scheduling becomes easy. Here's how Doodle works. You put in a date range and can include a time range if you want, and everyone lets you know when they're available in that range. Consider it a poll of availability so you can easily see a time when everyone's available. Let's see it in action. I've pointed my browser to doodle.com. To get started, click the big blue Schedule an event button right in the middle of the screen. From here, you can put in a title of your event, the location, description, and then your contact information.
When you're done, click the blue Next button. Here's where you start by selecting the days that you want everybody to choose between. For example, if I want everybody to choose the best date in a particular week, I can choose these dates. If I only want to make them days of the week or if I decide I've given them to many dates to choose from, I can click the trash can. For example, now I'll leave it as a possible weekday. Click the blue Next button, and now you can choose some time proposals You can bring those all the way down and you can even select Copy and paste first row, so it'll put those same times in everyday.
You can also click to add further time slots if you want. And when you're done, click the blue Next button. Here's where you can decide any settings. For example, can you add some extra fields for who's going to bring what type of food or if you want a particular menu selection. However, if you just want a basic poll, you can click the blue Next button. The last step is where you decide whether you're going to send the invitation yourself, using your own email application, or if you want Doodle to send the invitation for you.
If you want Doodle to send the invitation, you need an account. If you want to do it yourself, you can click the Finish button, and it's going to pop up the Mail app so that you can send out the invitations. It sent me an email. I have a choice. I can either forward that email to everybody that I want to participate or I can simply copy this link, open my mail app, and send it to other people. I'm going to go ahead and send those out, and then we're going to let somebody respond and I'll show you what it looks like.
Now that everybody's responded, let's go in and look at this Doodle. On the left-hand side, I can see the participants. Here's everybody that's responded. In the middle is all the choices. Now I can look down and easily see what everybody's responses are. I can quickly find a day that everybody selected that they were available. Now when it's your turn to enter a poll, you can simply put in your name, and place check boxes when you're available. If you're not available, just leave it blank. Scroll down and there's a blue Save button.
The person that created the poll will get a notification that you've responded. So once everybody's responded, you can know the best possible date. You can use Doodle in all sorts of situations. You can use it to see when a large group of friends can get together, school and non-profit committee meetings, which usually rely on a group of busy volunteers. I personally use it for band practice for real. It's hard to find a night when five busy people can get together for a few hours, but we use Doodle. Once we've settled on a day, we'll send out a new Doodle for that day to chose a time block.
You can even use Doodle in your business when you need to have a meeting with several people in a different company. It's just easier than managing a very long list of emails. Doodle is free to use. However, like most apps, there's a premium fee-based version that gives you some more options. For example, you can add the final date you settled on to your calendar automatically and you can also send a reminder to someone who hasn't answered the poll yet. Use the free version to get familiar with how it works and see how easy it can be to find the best possible day for your get together or meeting
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