I love efficiency and hate wasting time while waiting for people’s responses. When I discovered Outlook’s Scheduling Assistant and FindTime, I was immediately excited as they are efficient, which saves time! I will preface that they both really only work with people in your organization as they need to access calendars which can only happen within your own tenancy.
Scheduling Assistant and FindTime are both very similar. One is just a bit more manual, whereas the other is more automated.
Scheduling Assistant allows you to see available time for various people in your organization. You can then see when they have availability to meet. It doesn’t show you the titles of meetings, just whether someone is available or not. It is very helpful when you are trying to coordinate a few people. I am using Outlook for Office365, so depending on which version of Outlook you have, the instructions may vary.
Start by creating a new appointment. Add the title and click “Invite Attendees” to add people to your invite and add how long the meeting will be (don’t worry about the specific date and time, but if it is a 1-hour meeting, then ensure the time block is for one hour). Then click on “Scheduling Assistant” on the top row (between Meeting & Insert).
What you will see is like a bar graph. Invited attendees are along the left side, and dates and times are across the top. You will see purple bars which indicate people are busy (appointments in their calendar). Vertical white space shows times when all attendees are available. You can use the scroll bar at the bottom to change dates.
Note that if you manually choose a different time, the time slot will default back to 30 minutes, so you may need to change that back if your meeting is longer than 30 minutes
You can choose “AutoPick” at the top, and it will find the first available time the invitees are all available. Also, on the right side, it will list suggested times along with who may have conflicts. For a more automated approach, you can use FindTime (available as part of Office365). Start by creating a new appointment and fill in a Title, Required Attendees, and how long the meeting will be. Then click on New Meeting Poll on the top right. FindTime automatically scans each invitee’s calendar and finds possibilities. It will indicate how many people are available for each time slot by green or red people icons.
You can choose different possibilities (it’s best to choose 2 or 3) and then follow the instructions.
FindTime will then put holding spots in your calendar and email the invitees so they can vote on the best time for them. Once everyone has voted, FindTime automatically schedules the meeting and sends an invite to each attendee.
Whether you use Scheduling Assistant or FindTime, these tools ought to simplify scheduling meetings, especially when working remotely.