Calendaring & Meeting Tools

We need smart calendar agents

As I’m sitting here manually adding blocks of “break” time to my calendar around meetings I’ve booked, I’m getting a little frustrated.

I’ve used Tungle for several years now, and it’s quite a good tool. Rather than playing the are-you-free-on-Wednesday dance (or as I like to call it, “Calendar Tetris”) with multiple people, you can quickly find time when everyone is free to meet. I’ve been worried about Tungle since they were bought by RIM. A bit of a face lift, but nothing much in the way of new features, and certainly no communications or marketing (the blog is frozen in time, to the date of the acquisition in May 2011). I think this a great ecosystem tool for BlackBerry - it addresses a core function of their user base: business users going to meetings.

Since I find what Tungle does very useful, I’ve started to look around for other calendaring / meeting tools that can solve Calendar Tetris.

I tried Boomerang Calendar for a bit, but it just copy-pastes free slots into email. That still puts the effort on me to juggle different slots in my calendar, and frankly the cut/paste is not that much of a win.

Adam Kalsey pointed out TimeBridge to me (acquired by MerchantCircle in 2010, no news on blog since then - uh oh). I’ve worked with it a little bit, but the fact that their meetwith.me domain is showing as expired AND hosted on GoDaddy doesn’t inspire confidence.

What I want is a calendaring agent. An agent that I can program to automatically add 30 minutes of blocked off time on either side of a meeting. A software agent that can know I prioritize meetings with significant others, paying clients, and long-time mentors. I’m seeing tools like IFTTT or Cloudsnap arise that let us program some of the many tools at our disposal. But I don’t want to program. I want an agent that learns from me, and improves automatically.

As my friend Alen likes to say, think about Surface vs. Purpose. The Surface: organizing meetings. The Purpose: staying organized and efficient, and living a life where you get more of the right things done.

I would love to hear suggestions for other tools that solve the Purpose aspect of calendaring. For now, you can find my availability online at tungle.me/boris.

Update August 25th, 2013

Tungle is dead. There are no replacements that come close.

Gmail lets you insert calendar invitations, which doesn’t solve the let’s-find-a-time-to-meet dance, but it’s part of the offensive technique I’ve developed in suggesting a time that I know is free for me. This sometimes shortcuts the back and forth if it works for the other person.

At Full Stack, I set aside office hours most Thursdays, using a tool called Ohours. This at least has the benefit that I have known time slots I can point people towards, who can then pick the time that fits them.