Between the Mentoring Task Force, the Faculty Development and Diversity Committee, the Awards Committee, focus groups, journal clubs, and working groups, it seems like I spend a significant chunk of time scheduling meetings. Everyone is so busy that finding that golden hour when all the participants are available can be impossible.
So far, my technological solution has been to use Doodle. The free version allows users to set up several potential meeting days and times and then generates a link to a grid. All the invited attendees can add their availability by checking boxes. Doodle tallies up the yeses, and highlights the slot that most people can attend.
I recently heard about an alternative called Tungle.me. The website works in much the same way, but with far more powerful features. It allows you to link to Facebook and Twitter profiles and to sync with Outlook or iCalendar features to automatically avoid conflicts. Of course, to get those robust options, users have to sign up and download an application that connects to their calendar software. That may be more work than I can expect busy academics to perform.
Ideally, Outlook would incorporate these features and mesh seamlessly with the Department’s room scheduler. Until then, I’ll probably stick with Doodle.