So yesterday I had a meeting, or rather a group IM chat. All was going swimmingly until we tried to arrange follow-ups, whereupon there was much humming and hawing amongst us from our three respective time zones and with our competing schedules. Had I had this week’s offering to hand, the process of setting up subsequent meetings wouldn’t have been as fraught.
Tungle is, in its simplest form, a means of scheduling meetings. Now, you could use the old-fashioned method, as we did yesterday, and chase up people about their schedules and when they are free. Alternatively, you could use Tungle and take the pain and stress out of dealing with conflicting schedules and sets of priorities. Not only would you get your meeting scheduled, but you’d also have the means to edit start times, add and remove invitees, and offer a range of different start times, all without having to send round multiple emails to keep everyone up to speed.
As Tungle themselves put it, this is not a calendar; oh no, my friends, this a calendar accelerator. Tungle syncs up with your usual calendar, displays the times when you are free, and makes scheduling meetings easy by showing your available time slots to those you need to meet with. It works with Outlook, iCal, Entourage, Lotus Notes and Google Calendar. So far, no compatibility with Thunderbird or Sunbird, which would be my biggest gripe, but there are ways to get around that. Not only that, but people don’t even need to sign up to Tungle to get on board, because they can arrange meetings with you anyway, through the handy Tungle.me link that you can place everywhere from your blog to your Facebook and LinkedIn profile. Honestly? The days of the diary secretary could be numbered.
All Tungle needs is a free sign-up and the details of the calendar that you are going to be using to schedule events. Once the two are synced, you can select multiple time slots when you are free for a meeting, send out invitations to multiple prospective attendees, and it will select the earliest time that all the necessary people are available and “book” that slot for your meeting. Not only that, but it automatically handles who will be able to attend, sends out confirmations, and can even handle details of the meetings being changed. Bonus feature? It handles time zones automatically, so no more do you have to think about what time it will be in Shanghai, Berlin and Guatemala City when trying to arrange a video conference that won’t wreck havoc with anyone’s circadian rhythms.
As I mentioned, it isn’t necessary for everyone you want to schedule meetings with to also have a Tungle account. Those who do not will receive an email giving them a list of possible times, and they can click a link to confirm and receive reminders before the meeting. For people who want to arrange a meeting who don’t use Tungle, it is even easier. If you place a Tungle.me link on your blog, Facebook or LinkedIn profile, people can invite look up your calendar to see when you are free and then invite you to a meeting. And no need to worry about strangers finding out about your doctor’s appointments or mandatory visits to the in-laws: all they see is whether you are busy or free.
As teleworking becomes a possibility for an ever-greater number of people, it’s important to be able to quickly ascertain whether you are availble, especially if, like me, you deal with people who are scattered to the four winds and are starting their day when you are supposed to be fast asleep. Luckily, there is some overlap in people’s working day, and Tungle makes it easier to find out when the people you need to be in touch with are free. There is even an iPhone app, for heaven’s sake! That leaves no excuse for being “unavailable,” unless you are really so busy that you don’t have any free time whatsoever. Tungle makes working across boundaries and borders much easier. Not only that, but it allows you to take full control of your calendar, and to stay on top of contacting your remote colleagues. For freelancers and businesses alike, this service is a godsend. I can’t wait until “to Tungle” is recognised as a verb.
Hat-tip to Alison K at Useful Tools, without whom I would never have learned about this app.