Stop scheduling meetings manually
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Stop scheduling meetings manually

Tags
Consulting
Time Management
OSS
Published
February 17, 2024
Author
Onni Hakala

Scheduling Meetings Inside vs Outside Your Organization

Scheduling meetings is a common aspect of any knowledge worker profession, especially in fields like software engineering and management. There's often a need for status updates with partners and clients, or sales calls with companies offering interesting products.
Scheduling meetings within the same organization is relatively straightforward. You can easily see your colleagues' availability through systems like Google Workspace or Microsoft Office 365.
However, what happens when you need to schedule a meeting with someone outside your organization?
For too long, those conversations typically went like this for me:
Outside collaborator:
Hey! Could we have a meeting to discuss our collaboration further and to showcase what our product could do for you?
Me:
Yes of course. I’m available on wednesday and thursday between 14-15. Would either of these work for you?
Outside collaborator:
I just checked my calendar and we have mandatory company wide training during that time. Would next week monday between 9-10 work for you instead?
Me:
Sorry I have a dentist appointment during that time. How about …?
And it can continue surprisingly long and just waste so much time 🤦…

Considering a Scheduling Tool

Most readers are likely aware that scheduling issues can be resolved using a tool like Calendly. Perhaps you haven't started using it because the free plan is quite limited, and you didn't see enough value in subscribing. For instance, the free plan doesn't allow syncing of multiple calendars, such as work and personal ones, simultaneously.
Let's explore other available options. I tested how Calendly vs. Savvycal vs. Cal.com compare to each other.

Calendly

This is the de-facto product (at least for me) and people immediately know what you’re talking when you say “Calendly link”. Sadly their free version has pretty hostile pricing for solopreneurs or companies which are just starting out. Also this is not open-source and you can’t host it yourself if something happens. Calendly doesn’t support fastmail calendars at this time.
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Summary of Calendly ➕ Widely known product ➕ Has html embeds to your site ➕ iCloud calendar support ➕ Unique url for username is free ➖ Only 1 calendar in free version ➖ Only 1 event type in free version ➖ No recurring meetings

SavvyCal

Few of my friends have been happily using SavvyCal to schedule their meetings. It contains beautiful Guided setup which is useful if you’re using a tool like this for the first time. This was also the only scheduling tool which supports Fastmail and iCloud calendars. Their automation options include stuff like reminder message before the meeting or post-meeting thank you message which is cool 💪
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Summary of SavvyCal ➕ Fastmail+iCloud calendar support ➕ Has disposable single use links ➕ 30 day free trial ➖ But no free tier ➖ No html embeds to your site ➖ No recurring meetings
 

Cal.com

This is what I ended up using. Cal.com is open-source in Github and you can even contribute to it’s development if you want. It has very generous free tier and like Calendly you can build automation based on the events. Cal.com doesn’t support iCloud or Fastmail calendars but.
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Summary of Cal.com ➕ Open sourced in Github ➕ Custom text in the profile page ➕ Supports recurring meetings ➕ Unlimited calendars for free ➕ Unlimited event types for free ➖ No html embeds to your site ➖ No iCloud or Fastmail calendars ➖ Less known

📅 How I’m using scheduling links with Cal.com myself

You can even see my meeting scheduling page here: https://cal.com/onni-hakala-68jevg
I have 3 different meeting lengths of 15, 30 or 45 minutes. You can describe a custom purpose for the meetings and you can decide which online meeting tool it will use for the meeting. I’m a happy user of Google Workspace so I use Google meet.
I have set a few rules to the meetings:
  • Automatically hide meetings which would happen in next 24 hours
  • Automatically block 15 minutes after last meeting or 15 minutes before next meeting
  • Only allow 1 45 Min meeting per week
Screenshot from cal.com scheduling page for Onni
Screenshot from cal.com scheduling page for Onni
 
This has worked well and nowadays I just send this link when I’m talking to recruiters or stakeholders or even old colleagues of mine. This just saves so much time for all parties.
One annoyance is that I can’t make the “Additional notes” field mandatory. I don’t really like meetings where both parties haven’t prepared in advance and I would want to avoid these.

Reducing spam meetings

I have just started to use cal.com so I haven’t yet seen my calendar yet blocked with meetings. It does support Stripe integration and I think I’ll add a small fee into the meetings if it starts to be a burden. They also support secret links which are not publicly available.

Using cal.com for teams

I’m using this product as a solopreneur and freelancer and I’m very happy with it. They do have a team plan as well which will allow you to schedule meetings with multiple people from your organisation and outside collaborators.

Summary

I hope that all of the readers will start using a scheduling service after reading this. This should save multiple days of time per year for people who have multiple outside collaborators to work with. I hope you can now use that time into something more meaningful. 📈
Let me know if you know even better tools for meeting scheduling or if I missed something 🤝