Doodle.com: Hassle-Free Scheduling
You send an email to a group of project stakeholders proposing a meeting on Tuesday at 10:00. You receive two of the three responses. So far, everyone can attend. Then you receive the final response and find that Tuesdays don’t work for Jack. He suggests meeting on Wednesday at 3:00, but Carmen replies that she’s only available until 1:30. You’re not available on Wednesday afternoon at all, so you suggest Thursday. Kyle replies that he’s flexible, but he reminds you he’ll be on “London time.”
Have you ever had an experience like this? Have you ever wished scheduling a meeting could be easier? Well, it can be, and that’s where Doodle.com comes in. Using this website is free, efficient, and much easier than using email to schedule meetings.
So let’s rethink our scenario. You want to schedule a meeting with Jack, Kyle, and Carmen. You open your calendar and head to Doodle.com.
Step 1: Provide some general information.
No registration is required at Doodle, so you can jump right in. Just provide some general information; the only required fields are your event title, name, and email address.
Step 2: Propose some dates and times.
This step couldn’t be easier. Simply click the days that work for you, and they’ll populate in a list beside the calendar. Made a mistake? Click the trash can.
For each day you’ve selected, type in the times that work for you. Three time slots per day appear as a default, but you don’t have to use them all. You can also add additional time slots if you’d like.
Step 3: Customize the settings.
If you’re creating a “basic poll,” you can immediately move to the next step. However, if you have more advanced needs, there are a few settings you can customize, such as keeping guest responses confidential and limiting the number of options a person can select. The basic poll always meets my needs, so I click right through to the next screen.
Step 4: Invite your participants.
You can add the email address of each participant on this screen, or you can opt to send invitations from your own account. In either case, you’ll click Finish, and then you’ll immediately receive two emails from Doodle: a participation link and an administration link. If you’ve opted not to provide email addresses on the website, you simply email the link to each participant.
Step 5: Let Doodle do the work for you.
Participants receive an email linking them to a poll. The poll features the dates and times you’ve selected, and participants do not need to register with Doodle in order to vote. They simply enter a name, check the boxes that work for them, and click Save. If none of the times work for them, they can click “Cannot make it.” There’s also an option to leave a comment.
As the administrator, you’ll receive a link to a dashboard allowing you to manage your poll. You can edit the poll, close it, invite more participants, and much more.
Most importantly, you’ll have access to the results of your poll. Doodle will send you an email each time someone participates, and you can check poll progress at any time. When everyone has responded, just take a look at the poll for a visual indicator of what dates and times work best for everyone. And honestly, this picture is worth a thousand words (or emails). The most popular time is also listed above the poll. In our sample scenario, Jack, Carmen, and Kyle all participated, and there is one time that works for all three of them: Thursday from 2:00 to 3:00. Number of emails sent? Two: one to invite everybody and one to announce the results.
There is no cost for using the process I’ve described, but Doodle does offer two paid plans: one for individuals (the Private plan) and one for teams (the Business plan). The Private plan offers ad-free usage, end-to-end SSL encryption, calendar integration, and automatic reminders. It also includes the “see who is missing” feature and the “request additional information” feature. The cost is $39/year. The Business plan includes everything in the Private plan plus custom design, custom subdomain, and user management. Prices start at $69/year for one user and can be purchased in various increments up to 1,000 users.
If scheduling a meeting takes more time than you’d like it to, or if you’d simply like to streamline the process, I recommend checking out Doodle. As its website says, “Doodle simplifies scheduling.”