Scheduling meetings is perhaps the biggest heat loss in the world of business. The give and take of times, alternatives, trying to deal with many people with different calendars and timezones… it’s a mess and there doesn’t seem to be any convention or system to solve it. Considering how many people use Gmail and Google calendar I’ve been expecting that Google — who is building autonomous cars and the world’s most popular search engine — would figure it out. But they haven’t really tried.
However, Baydin has built what Google should have into its Boomerang Calendar, a plugin for Chrome and Firefox browsers.
First of all, when you get email from others suggesting a possible time for a meeting, Boomerang recognizes the timestamp, and displays the timestamp in a red/green/yellow code: red is a conflict, green is go, and yellow indicates an adjacent meeting.
If you hover over a detected timestamp, Boomerang shows a full day’s calendar.
The best features are yet to come, however. You can send the next few days of your calendar in an email to one or more other folks, which shows free and busy times.
Note that as your schedule changes, this embedded calendar is always updated, so the recipients will see changes as they happen.
Alternatively, you can suggest a time for a meeting while editing the email, and send that along. Here you see the interface before selecting a time:
And here’s afterward, with a proposed time. Note that multiple times can be selected, and these time slots can be marked as ‘maybe’ in your calendar, and once you pick a time, the other tentatives times are deleted in one click.
The Bottom Line
The solution to the tentative time slots offered up for possible meetings and the ability to pick a single proposed time — and deleting no longer relevant tentative times — is going to be a godsend for me. And I bet for nearly everyone else that juggles a busy schedule. As just an example, the calendar in the last screen shot above leaves out the five or six other calls and meetings that I am trying to coordinate with others, all buried in email threads, and in several cases, possibly leading to conflicts. Boomerang is going to save me a great deal of friction in the ceaseless grind of coordinating meetings and calls.
If Boomerang saves only a few minutes per meeting I would judge it a great win, but the amount of energy wasted in this way is probably several times that.
The only remaining question is why doesn’t Google just buy Baydin and roll Boomerang into Google Calendar?