I'm a Google Calendar user. It's easy to use. And for the most part, it helps keep the schedules of individual users organized. But one of its shortcomings is in scheduling meetings. In my experience, it just isn't nearly as advanced as it should be when it comes to things like arranging meetings among a group of people in various time slots. And unfortunately, the same goes for Yahoo Calendar and Microsoft's Live Calendar.
So I've decided to venture out in search of online applications for scheduling. Some are better than others, but many are worth trying out.
Calendarfly: Calendarfly is designed for schools, small organizations, or families. After you register with Calendarfly, you're immediately brought to a cluttered page that's difficult to understand, at first. But after a while, you'll get used to it.
When you start adding events to your calendar, Calendarfly lets you share them with others. Parents can also have their child's events added to their own calendar in a different color, keeping them apprised of what's going on in their child's life. Calendarfly lets you input the location of the event you're planning, thanks to its new geo-coding feature. It can be a little buggy, but it usually works well. If you're a teacher, parent, or coach, Calendarfly isn't a bad scheduling option.
Divvy: Divvy isn't your typical scheduling tool. In fact, it's designed to help you make more money in your business. But its scheduling tool is really handy. When you want to create an appointment, the tool brings you to a simple input page that lets you pick the time, as well as add a description and a title.
If you're operating a business, you can also input how much the appointment will cost. Thanks to Divvy's vanity URLs, you can direct people to your personal Divvy page, giving them full access to your appointment availability. They can then schedule a time on your page in seconds. It works well.
Genbook: Genbook, similar to Divvy, is designed for small businesses that want to streamline their scheduling. The tool first requires you to input your business information. From there, you can list your services and input on the app's calendar when you'll be available.
Creating appointments is made easy with the site's appointment tool. But my favorite feature is Genbook's Customers module, which automatically saves pertinent customer information whenever one signs up for an appointment. It displays the customer's name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. It's really helpful. Genbook comes in three versions--Free, Solo ($19.95 per month), and Standard ($39.95 per month).
Jiffle: Jiffle claims that the average user sends seven e-mails back and forth before they can nail down a meeting time. To solve that, the company allows you to selectively share your availability calendar. You can assign your available time slots for the week and send it off to people with whom who you want to meet. Once they pick the time they can meet, it immediately triggers a notification message alerting all parties. The tool can then be integrated into your Google Calendar, or you can keep track of your meetings on the site. Jiffle even has a toolbar for Outlook users to streamline the scheduling process.
Mixin: Mixin is an extremely simple calendar tool that makes it easy to plan your day. When you first sign up for the site, you'll be brought to a scheduling screen where you're asked to input what you plan to do, when you plan to do it, and for how long you plan on doing it. It's then added to a timeline beneath that field.
You can share that with friends on social networks like Facebook. You can invite others to join in on that event. And you can even comment on it as you're performing the task. Mixin isn't nearly as powerful as most calendaring tools, and some people might need a little more than what it offers. But if you want something quick and easy, Mixin is for you. (For a hands-on of Mixin, click here.)
Scheduly: Scheduly is a great tool for contractors or small businesses that want to conveniently schedule appointments with potential clients. Once you sign up for the free tool, you can set your weekly agenda. From there, clients can view your Scheduly business page to set up appointments. You can even embed your schedule into your Web site. If you don't like Scheduly's built-in calendar, you can sync it with Google Calendar, iCal, and others to view your appointments.
TimeBridge: TimeBridge makes it easy to set up a meeting. Once you click the "schedule a meeting" link, you're brought to a page giving you the option to send invites to a group of people. You can then enter the meeting topic, propose times when you're available, and send them a description of the meeting.
My favorite TimeBridge feature is the option of starting a Web conference or holding a call. When you pick the conference call option, the site provides you with a dial-in number. If you want to hold a Web conference, you'll need to pay. TimeBridge charges $8.95 per month or $89 per year. All your meetings can be integrated into Google Calendar.
TimeDriver: TimeDriver is designed specifically for business professionals who need more power than what a tool like Google Calendar can provide. It makes it easy for others to schedule appointments with you. In TimeDriver, you can pick times throughout the day when you can meet. You then send your calendar to people with whom you want to schedule meetings, and they will pick a time that works for them.
To enhance its appeal, TimeDriver also allows you to bring e-marketing into the mix. You can put your company's logo and URL in the e-mail you send to those with whom you plan to meet. Although TimeDriver has a calendar of its own, any meeting you set up on the service can be synced with your Google Calendar or Outlook. Using TimeDriver after its free trial will cost you $29.95 per year. (Read the full review of TimeDriver.)
The top 3
Trying to figure out which scheduling tool is best for you? Here are the top three from this roundup.
1. TimeBridge: Hosted Web conferences and dial-ins make it a great choice.
2. Divvy: Easy access, thanks to vanity URLs; will appeal to small businesses.
3. Jiffle: Cutting down on e-mails is finally possible with Jiffle.