I work part-time and am only in our office 1-2 days per week. I work quite often remotely, but I find phone calls and Skype meetings challenging as I like face to face communication. As a result, I try to schedule meeting for times I am in the office. Trying to do this remotely can take time with texts or emails back and forth to find the appropriate meeting time for everyone involved. Time is precious and I hate wasting it on things like scheduling meetings.
I was in a meeting and my colleague asked me if I heard of FindTime. He was so enthusiastic and excited about it and told me it would be perfect for my working situation. I did some reading and was immediately sold! FindTime is included in the Office365 subscription we already pay for so it was an even bigger bonus!
FindTime will search the calendars of meeting recipients and suggest various meeting options. Then the magic begins (since this first part can already be achieved with the scheduling assistant in Outlook). Once you choose the options you like, Find Time will set up a poll and invite the recipients to choose the times that work for them, and which ones they prefer. After each person has completed this step, it will automatically pick the best option (the one with the most people choosing it) and automatically set up the meeting in your calendar and invite the others.
I first went to https://findtime.microsoft.com and clicked “Install for Free.” It asked me for permission to access my email and calendar, but since it is part of Office365 where I host my email and calendar, I was fine with it. The rest of the installation was quick and straight-forward and I had no issues. As I have said before, I am probably the least technical person who works for an IT company.
Then it was time to try it out. I set up a test appointment, clicked “New Meeting Poll” and added the three others I wanted to invite. I wanted an hour and it showed me that there was nothing that day or the following one where all 4 of us had the same hour free. It did suggest some options a few days away and I picked a few possibilities. It will show you little stick type people: green indicates available and red unavailable, so I looked for 4 green people. Then I added a meeting room and clicked “Insert to Email” and it sent a poll to each invitee.
As each person responded, they could choose which proposed times worked and pick a preferred one. I got a copy of each person’s responses. After the last person responded to the poll, the real magic happened. FindTime picked the best time; the one with the most people who could attend, then it automatically created the appointment in my calendar and invited all the others. I got notifications when they accepted and declined.
I have used Outlook’s Scheduling Assistant before, which has worked great, however, FindTime is like Scheduling Assistant on steroids. It’s awesome (and no side effects). I like that I can also include people outside my organization (it won’t show me their availability, but I can work around that), but they can still participate in the poll and get an invitation to the meeting.
FindTime is a small Outlook add-on for those on Office365 but I can see it making such a huge difference in my productivity and ability to schedule meetings; especially given that it’s not generally possible for me to stand in front of someone and schedule it in person.
I wanted to break it down even more for you with a little “HOW TO” below, or you can go to the findtime microsoft link and figure it out yourself. Have fun!
Setting up FindTime
- Go to the link https://findtime.microsoft.com
- Click “Install for Free”
- It will ask you for permission to access your email and calendar. You can also choose to unclick “Keep me in the loop and up to date with announcements” if you don’t want to get emails. Then click “I’m Ready”
- You will be redirected to the Office 365 login page. Log in.
- It will go back to the FindTime and should say “Installing”
- It will ask “How do I access FindTime?” and give you some options. Choose the option which reflects how you access Outlook.
- You will need to restart Outlook.
FindTime for a New Meeting
- Compose a new email with your meeting invitees.
- Click the appropriate FindTime button depending on your version of Outlook below:
- In Outlook 2016 “New Meeting Poll” shows up as an option
- In Outlook 2013, click “Apps for Office” and choose FindTime
- In Outlook for Mac, click “FindTime” in Apps Menu Bar
- It may prompt you to log in and you can unclick “keep me informed” and sign in
- Choose the duration of the meeting change the date if you are looking at a meeting in the future (it will default to today/tomorrow) and it will show you the options where people are available. It displays little people (green or red depending on availability). Choose a few options and click next.
- You can add a location by typing it in.
- Click “Insert to Email” and it will insert it into the body of the email and will email the invitees a poll about which times work for them.
- Everyone gets and email and votes. You will get a copy of each persons votes/responses.
- FindTime will automatically schedule the meeting after everyone votes based on the time with the most possible attendees
- You still get responses for who accepts or declines the meeting